Wanda Jackson has been performing for nearly 60 years. One of rock n' roll's original bad girls -- who once stole Elvis Presley's heart -- she recognizes a good year when it comes around. "It's been a good ride, I'll tell ya," says the 74-year-old rockabilly legend, who's in the rock hall of fame and is oft-dubbed the Queen of Rock.
Her year has included a critically-acclaimed, Jack White-produced covers album, The Party Ain't Over, a handful of dates performing with him, and even opening for Adele. Oh, and she played 86 freaking shows in 2011. We rang up the Oklahoma native ahead of her New Year's Eve show at the Nokia Theater with Best Coast.
2011 has been quite a year for you.
It's been extremely busy, but one of the best of my career. It's been challenging in some ways but we've had wonderful crowds and some great venues, worked with some great people.
Is a bit surprising that nearly 60 years after rising to fame this was one of your most successful years?
It's been kind of mind-boggling.... this whole year. It all began I guess in 2010 when Jack White first called and let us know that he was interested in recording an album with me -- or at least a couple of singles and possibly an album. But we got along and worked together well so we extended it and made it into an album. It caused so much talk in the industry and I guess among his fans and mine, as well as the media and people in the record business and my friends and all. It's been exciting.
What was the experience like?
It was fun working with him. It was challenging also. He pushed me real hard. He wanted more of that 18-year-old Wanda Jackson [laughs]. And I said "Jack, you're pushing me awful hard." And he said "Yeah, but you can do it." And he just kept pushing. And after the album was all finished, and I was very proud of the product that we had and he was too, and I said "Jack, I think you've just pushed me into the 21st century."
Was it a challenge taking on cover songs?
I thought Jack did a marvelous job of making these songs all fresh and new. Songs like "Rum and Coca Cola" that goes back to the late '40s and "Teach Me Tonight" which is kind of a '50s song. I had fun doing it. It was quite a variety of material.