Jerry “The Phantom” Lott

Posted by Whitmore, September 4, 2007 11:56am | Post a Comment

A decade before the mayhem and lurid madness of the Legendary Stardust Cowboy’s “Paralyzed” there was Jerry Lott, a.k.a. “The Phantom,” recording his own blithering two minute psychotic-billy breakdown. Born near Mobile, Alabama in 1938, Lott played country music as a young teenager until he heard Elvis Presley and rockabilly in 1956. Something obviously went ping!

During the summer of 1958 in Mobile, Lott recorded Whisper Your Love. As he told Derek Glenister in a 1980 interview: "Somebody said, 'what you gonna put on the flip-side' - I hadn't even thought about it. Someone suggested I wrote something like Elvis 'cause he was just a little on the wane and everybody was beginning to turn against rock 'n' roll. They said, 'See if you spark rock 'n' roll a little bit' ... so that's when I put all the fire and fury I could utter into it. I was satisfied with the first take, but everybody said, 'Let's try it one more time.' I didn't yell on the first take, but I yelled on the second, and blew one of the controls off the wall. I'm telling ya," Lott continued, "It was wild. The drummer lost one of his sticks, the piano player screamed and knocked his stool over, the guitar player's glasses were hanging sideways over his eyes."

Love Me was that song, written by Jerry Lott in 10 minutes. Almost 50 years later that track is still startling, especially to the uninitiated. If the screams don’t stagger you at the beginning, perhaps The Phantom’s post-coital exhaustion at track’s end will. Yeah, most great Rockabilly records from the late fifties had more then their share of fire and dementia, but this track is insane … certifiably, wickedly, aberrantly insane! It’s beautiful!

Lott left Mobile for Los Angeles to shop his master tape around, on an impulse he followed Pat Boone to church one Sunday morning  and convinced him to give the tape a listen. It was Boone's idea to rename Lott  "The Phantom”, even agreeing to issue the record on his own label, Cooga Mooga. Eventually Lott signed a contract with Boone's management but the single of Love Me b/w Whisper Your Love was released on the label Boone recorded for - Dot  Records in 1960 (DOT 16056).

For almost five decades now, plenty of folks have tried to recreate
this completely over the edge, pedal to the metal, head bashin’, full moon howlin’ kind of moment … but few succeed.

Just take a look at the lyrics, remember this is 1958, (and  somehow Mr. “White Patent Leather Shoe Guy”, Pat Boone dug it!?!)

"Aahh, uhh, let's go! Uhh
Press your lips to mine
And whisper I love you
Gotta have chance that lasts
To do the things we wanna do
Don't hesitate, I can't wait, love me
You set my soul on fire
Every muscle in my body's burning with desire
Baby kiss me do
Make me know you're mine
Love me with desire
Oh honey, this is fine
Don't hesitate, I can't wait, love me
I want you to be my bride
My heart's a runnin' wild
Got to make you mine
If just for a little while
Don't hesitate, I can't wait, love me
Love me, love me, love me..."

Unfortunately in 1966, Jerry “The Phantom” Lott sustained severe injuries when his car tumbled 600 feet down a mountainside near Spartanburg, South Carolina. As far as I know, he never recorded again. And in 1983 he passed away on this date, September 4th, at the age of 45.

Side note: The first and alternate takes are included on the 1998 Bear Family Records’ fifth installment in their That’ll Flat Git It Series. And this summer,  Rhino Records has released Rockin' Bones: 1950s Punk and Rockabilly, which includes the first take.

Relevant Tags

Sex (14), 1950's (53), Rockabilly (7), 45's (53), Elvis Presley (23), Outsider Music (7), The Legendary Stardust Cowboy (1)