Ray Sharpe, born February 8, 1938, Fort Worth, Texas
Legend has it that black rockabilly performer Ray Sharpe once had plans to form
a duo with his friend, white rockabilly performer and fellow Texan Ronnie Dawson.
They were going to call themselves the Oreo Cookies. The more you listen to
Sharpe, the more you wish it would have happened (Reportedly, the idea was
scrapped when the two young rockers realized that the rest of the world might not
see the humor in it that they did...), reason being that it's amazing how much
these two guys influenced each other's styles.
Though he's known for the classic roadhouse staple "Linda Lu," the Fort Worth native's swan song
is a chicken walkin' opus entitled "Monkey's Uncle" which Dawson himself recorded on a recent
album, after years of leveling the house with it during his stage show.
Produced by the always fascinating Lee Hazlewood, it's no wonder that the damn thing
sounded so cool when Sharpe first cut it in '59. Mixing with like-minded rockers Al Casey
and Duane Eddy, Sharpe defined that twangy-heavy thread of rock 'n' roll that Hazlewood
helped to mastermind, usually best summed up by the recorded works of Jody Reynolds
and Sanford Clark.
His songs have been recorded by acts ranging from Neil Young and
Rickie Van Shelton to swamp guitarist Danny James and bottleneck master J.B. Hutto,
while his entire approach was a huge influence on Southwest rocker Bobby Fuller.
And in 1966, Two of Ray Sharpe's recording sessions, under the direction of fellow
Fort Worth native King Curtis, featured Jimi Hendrix playing guitar.
Truly an enigma, this great American seems to simultaneously embrace all the ingredients
of rock 'n' roll's magic potion with similar aplomb, a rare feat since day one, but one that
makes him a living example of the real thing.