Jerry Jaye – “My Girl Josephine”

Introduction to Jerry Jaye

Jaye is an American country and rockabilly guitarist/singer. In 1954 until 1958 Jaye had a stint in the US Navy, and when he came home he decided to make music for a living, so he formed a trio. Together the three began playing around clubs around Arkansas. When their reputation grew, local radio disc jockey Joe Thompson suggested they cut a record, and soon arranged a trip for the trio to Memphis, Tennessee. There the group recorded a Fats Domino classic “My Girl Josephine.” Because of the song getting more airplay, it led to Jay’s signing to Hi Records, which re-released “My Girl Josephine.” It became a national hit in 1967. In his somewhat checkered career, he also gained few more hits such as “Honky Tonk Women Love Redneck Men” and “Hot and Still Heatin’”. He and his wife, country singer Darlene Battles, toured the American South, and in the mid-90s the couple also toured Sweden and in the UK

Earl life and career

Jerry Jaye was born Gerald Jaye Hatley in Manila, Arkansas on October 19, 1937, to a family of poor sharecroppers who took the difficult, backbreaking task of growing cotton. Jaye worked alongside with his family at the cotton fields, but he swore that this was “something that I do not ever want to return to.”

In 1954, Jaye had a stint in the US Navy which went on for four years. And upon his discharge, he vowed never to return to the cotton fields. He was really decided that he should make a living by making music. And so, he formed a band together with bassist Tommy Baker and drummer Carl Fry. Soon, the trio built up a strong following on the local music scene in Arkansas. The band snagged a reputation as one of the “must-see” local acts who play a variety of musical genres from rock and roll, R&B to country.

Jaye’s recording career

As their popularity rose, local radio disc jockey Joe Thompson began to notice the group and took interest in them. He was bent on furthering the band’s career, so Thompson made a suggestion that they should record a single. Thompson even shouldered the arrangements so that the Jaye’s band could go to Memphis, Tennessee to do a recording session there. It happened around late 1966.

At Memphis’ Sonic Studio (owned by Thompson’s acquaintance Roland Janes) Jerry Jaye and his band mates cut two singles, which were both covers: a Mickey Newbury song called “Five Miles From Home” which was originally intended to be put on the A-side; and the other one was a previous hit by Fats Domino, “My Girl Josephine,” which was re-titled as “Hello Josephine.” They did these songs in just one take.

Initially, the single was pressed with 500 copies. Jaye formed his own small label Connie label to release the single, which still bore the title “Hello Josephine.” He shopped these records to several radio stations which took the single favorably. As the single was getting more and more airplay and was selling very well, Jaye decided to put the single forward to Hi Records. Jaye also sold these records to demanding audiences at the club he was working. But he gradually found out that people were asking more of the B-side, “Hello, Josephine.” The record proved to be hot and still heatin’ (paraphrasing the title of one Jaye’s other songs).

“My Girl Josephine” – Jaye’s “hot-selling” record

After negotiations with Hi Records’ owner Joe Cuoghi, Jaye finally signed up with the label as its contract artist. The label also picked the record up for national distribution, with rockabilly-tinged “Hello Josephine” being reverted back to its original title “My Girl Josephine.”

“My Girl Josephine” was a hot seller in the region, so strong that stocks of these records sold far faster than the Beatles releases during that time. It also climbed to the national charts, ending up at #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. An album followed, also titled My Girl Josephine, which peaked at #195 on the Billboard 200.

Later career

However, Jaye failed to duplicate the success of “My Josephine.” He left Hi Records in 1970, and in 1975 Jaye signed up with Columbia Records, resurfacing a bit with a cover of Tommy Edward’s “It’s All in the Game,” which became a minor country hit. He signed up with Hi Records again and produced a couple of more country hits, “Honky Tonk Women Love Redneck Men” and “Hot and Still Heatin'” before leaving the label again.

Afterwards, Jerry Jaye and his singer wife Darlene Battles toured and performed together especially in the southern region. Aside from the US, Jaye and his wife also toured overseas, such as England and Sweden. In 2005 he released his latest album to date, One More Time.