James Frederick "Jimmie" Rodgers, was born in Camas, Washington. He is not related to the country singer of the same name.
Rodgers was taught music by his mother, learned to play the piano and guitar, and joined a band called "The Melodies" started by violinist Phil Clark, while he served in the United States Air Force in Korea.
He was a contestant on Arthur Godfrey's talent show on the radio. When Roulette Records became aware of Rodgers' talent and signed him to a recording contract.
In the summer of 1957, he recorded a song called "Honeycomb," which became Rodgers' biggest hit, staying on the top of the charts for four weeks. The following year, he had a number of other hits that reached the Top 10 on the charts: "Kisses Sweeter than Wine," "Oh-Oh, I'm Falling in Love Again," "Secretly," and "Are You Really Mine." Other hits include "Bo Diddley," "Bimbombey," and a version of "Waltzing Matilda" as a film tie-in with On the Beach. He then had his own short-lived televised variety show on NBC.
In 1966, a long dry spell ended for Rodgers when he re-entered the Top 40 with "It's Over" (later to be covered by Eddy Arnold, Elvis Presley, and Sonny James). In 1967, he had his final charting single, "Child of Clay."
On December 20, 1967, while preparing to do a film for 20th Century Fox, he was assaulted after allegedly being pulled over by an off-duty Los Angeles Police Department officer on the San Diego Freeway in Southern California, receiving a severe beating, leading to a skull fracture. He underwent emergency brain surgery and a large portion of his skull was removed and replaced with a 24 square inch metal plate.
During various attempts to regain his career he was struck down with recurring brain seizures. After years of multiple surgeries, he slowly regained his mobility. Over the past 40 years he has lived in pain and undergone constant subsequent surgeries to maintain scalp closure over the plate.
In 1999, he said that he suffered from spastic dysphonia for a number of years, and could hardly sing.
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