As we all know, a lot of musical stars from earlier eras have managed to find renewed success in later years by performing in nostalgia-based shows, and in some cases have even returned to the recording studio. One who has held up remarkably well is former teen idol Jimmy Clanton — but he was always recognized as someone who was a cut above most of his early contemporaries.
When he first began performing in the mid-1950s, while still in high school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Clanton was one of a new wave of guys who were beginning to bring R&B sounds to white audiences. (Another Baton Rouge rocker — Johnny Rivers — would soon follow.) Fronting his own combo called the Dixie Cats, he performed many of the same songs that guys like Little Richard and Fats Domino were making popular.
Clanton eventually joined up with a group called the Rockets and then began hitting the recording studio in New Orleans. By 1958 he was beginning to make his mark with several records on the charts, striking gold with his mega-seller, “Just a Dream.”
It made him a star, and Clanton was soon showing up everywhere from American Bandstand to the Hollywood Bowl. Over the next few years he continued to sell a lot of records with songs like “Letter to an Angel” and “Go Jimmy Go,” and even appeared in a couple of teen-rock movies. Along the way, his clean-cut good looks and choices in songs helped turn him into a genuine teen idol.
Although Clanton did have to spend a couple of years fulfilling his military obligation, he managed to keep some career momentum going with occasional record releases, and just about the time he returned to full-time music he enjoyed one of his biggest hits, “Venus in Blue Jeans.” But it would be his last highly-charted record and within a few years he was doing other things. However, in the last couple of decades Clanton has been very successfully entertaining his fans again, and he still sounds pretty darn good.