For every successful rock band or performer, there's about 100 more that never make it. Not that they may lack talent; the music business is about luck as it is about talent. A musician has to be in the right place at the right time. Here's a performer who fell between the cracks and not for lack of ability either. Ex-Marine Johnny Dollar was a drifter with occasional work as a radio DJ in the 50's when he recorded these great rockabilly songs. The records were never released as the master tapes were lost. They turned up 40 years later in a moving company box in someone's back closet in Texas. These are cookin' rock and roll tunes! This kid obviously had talent and lots of it. Songs such as "Slim Jim Baby" and "Car Coat Beat" are incredibly infectious, and his live versions of "Great Balls of Fire" and "Jailhouse Rock" show off his capabilities as a performer. It's hard to say whether Dollar might have been a star, but listening to his voice one can't help but think he could have made it. During his time around Texas, Dollar was certainly not ignored. He is said to directly influence another rockabilly artist, Ronnie Dawson. And if that's not believable, compare Dollars' recordings of the Jack Rhodes-penned tunes "Action Packed" and "Rockin' Bones" with Dawson's later (more famous) recordings. The similarities are very much in evidence. During the 60's, Johnny Dollar continued his DJ career and became a country singer with a few minor hits.
Although too late for Johnny Dollar (who killed himself in 1986 after a losing battle with throat cancer and a drinking problem), rockabilly aficionados will gladly want to add this CD to their collections.
- Cheryl LeBeau