Pop legend Jimmie Rodgers, famous for the Billboard hit songs “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” and “Honeycomb,” has died at age 87.
Jimmie Rodgers Was a Star Through 1950s and ’60s
The pop star got his start singing in the U.S. Air Force, where he joined a band called The Melodies. After he transferred to Nashville, he took part in a competition on Arthur Godfrey’s CBS talent show, winning $700. Soon after that, he signed with Roulette Records and recorded his own take on “Honeycomb.” The single sold more than one million copies and went gold with the RIAA.
Rodgers would go on to record plenty of other Top 10 hits during the late 1950s, among them “Oh-Oh, I’m Falling in Love Again” and “Are You Really Mine?”
He kept recording albums through most of the 1960s. His style combined country, folk and pop themes.
After building up his television presence with appearances on variety shows, Rodgers started acting in movies, according to the Associated Press. Those included “Back Door to Hell” with Jack Nicholson and “The Little Shepherd of Kingdom Come.”
A Life-Altering Injury
Then, in 1967, Rodgers suffered a fractured skull and other injuries after pulling his car over on a Los Angeles freeway. He claimed he had pulled over after the driver behind him flashed his lights. He also said the man who attacked him was an off-duty police officer.
“I rolled down the window to ask what was the matter,” Rodgers told The Toronto Star in 1987. “That’s the last thing I remember.”
L.A. police officers claimed Rodgers had hurt himself falling while drunk. But Rodgers filed a lawsuit and got a $200,000 settlement.
Once he recovered, Rodgers got a summer TV show on ABC. But he later came down with a condition that caused spasms in his voice box muscles, and he began having seizures as a result of the attack.
Rodgers told a Utah newspaper in 2016 that he still remembered what got him into music. He was in the Air Force in 1953, stationed in Korea, when he found a $10 guitar. He started singing for his fellow soldiers.
“We were sitting on the floor with only candles for light, and these tough soldiers had tears running down their cheeks. I realized if my music could have that effect, that’s what I wanted to do with my life,” he said.
Rodgers is survived by his wife, Mary Louise Biggerstaff, and five children from three marriages.