2010 - Women Who Rock
Rockabilly bombshell Sparkle Moore was born Barbara Morgan in Omaha in 1936. She was the quintessential bad girl and dressed in flashy playing jackets akin to her male counterparts. She was noted for her long blonde hair with an Elvis-styled pompadour on top. Barbara was dubbed “Sparkle” in honor of a supporting character with similar hairdo in the popular “Dick Tracy” comic strip.
As a child she became heavily absorbed in music; playing whatever instrument was available in the grade school through high school orchestras and bands. As a young teen, she played the Hawaiian steel guitar for several years at local functions, hospitals and special events. In the mid-50s, she quickly adapted to rock and roll and remains there to this day. A mild nightmare to her parents, along with the loud basement bands, as a teen she ran away from home to play in a Dixieland rock band in New Orleans.
In 1956 Sparkle sent a home recording to “Grahame Crackers” Richards, a DJ at KOWH. He quickly became her manager and she was signed within the month to record at Fraternity Records based in Cincinnati, Ohio . Her first rockabilly record “Rock-a-Bop” backed with “Skull & Crossbones” was soon released and Sparkle toured cross country to promote it. She played at teen hops, schools, ballrooms and nightclubs. Sparkle also played with Ronnie Self, Sammy Davis Jr., Gene Vincent, the Grand Ole Opry and opened for Tommy Sands.
“Killer” backed with “Tiger” followed in 1957. Her music was considered very wild and unorthodox for a woman of that day. Sparkle also takes credit for being the first hippie to hit California several years later with a guitar strapped on the side of a Harley, convinced that Hollywood &Vine held the key to instant success.
Her flair for musical adventure was somewhat leashed with the advent of motherhood and the need to maintain a stable environment. She settled back in Iowa where music endeavors have remained strong throughout her life. Sparkle continues to write, play, sing and record music. In recent years with the rockabilly revival in Europe, her early recordings have been re-released by Ace Records in London on multiple compilations. Other artists have recorded her material as well.
As a result of these early recordings, Sparkle Moore is credited as being one of the first women in rock and roll. Her hardcore style can be heard and was imitated by a number of the early female rock and roll artists. Her sound and style have been linked to many outstanding female rockers such as Pat Benatar, Ann Wilson, Debbie Harry and others.
For her contributions to female rockabilly and later rock and roll as we know it today and for the inspiration she provided to many of those early rockin’ women, Sparkle Moore enters the IRRMA RockNRoll Hall of Fame with the Class of 2010.