County at the première of Squeezebox! at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival
July 13, 1947 |
Dallas, Georgia, U.S.
Jayne County (born 1947) is an American singer, songwriter, actress and record producer whose career has spanned five decades. She was the vocalist of influential proto-punk band Wayne County & the Electric Chairs and has been known for her outrageous and unpredictable stage antics. She went on to become rock's first openly transgender singer.
County's music has encompassed a number of styles over the course of her career, including glam punk, punk rock, blues rock, and boogie-woogie. County did not think her birth name Wayne Rogers "sounded very glamorous" and decided to adopt the name of the county in which Detroit was located because she admired bands from that city "like Iggy [Pop] and all those people." Though she has never been a commercial success, she has been an influence on a number of musicians including David Bowie, the Ramones, Patti Smith, Pete Burns and Lou Reed, and many of County's songs have become well-known, including "Are You Man Enough to Be a Woman", "Fuck Off", "Stuck on You," and "Night Time". Pianist Jools Holland's first studio outing was with County on her single "Fuck Off". She also appeared as an actor at Andy Warhol's Factory.
Born in 1947, County left her hometown of Dallas, Georgia, in 1968 to move to New York City, where she became a regular at the Stonewall Inn and took part in the historic riots. In 1969 County was asked by Warhol superstar and playwright Jackie Curtis to appear in her play, Femme Fatale. The play had a successful run at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club and also starred Patti Smith. In her autobiography, County says of Curtis, "She was my biggest influence, the person who really got me started."
After appearing in Femme Fatale, County wrote the play World - Birth of a Nation (The Castration of Man). The play was directed by Tony Ingrassia and promoted as a "homosexual fantasy." The play was set in a hospital and related to castration of the male sex. County played both Florence Nitingale and her sister Ethel Nitingale, and the play also featured Cherry Vanilla who played a nurse named Tilly Tons.
After seeing County in the play, Warhol cast her in his own theatrical production of Pork, which was also adapted and directed by Tony Ingrassia. After a run in New York, the play was performed in London with the same New York cast. Upon returning to New York, County appeared in another play, Island by Tony Ingrassia, again with Patti Smith.
In 1972 County formed Queen Elizabeth, one of the pioneering proto-punk bands. County was signed to MainMan Artistes, David Bowie's management firm, but no records were ever produced. The company spent over $200,000 to film the 1974 stage show, "Wayne at the Trucks", but footage has never been released. The show featured numerous costume changes and some of County's raunchiest material. Eight songs from the show were released on the 2006 album, Wayne County At the Trucks, on Munster Records. County claims the show was the inspiration for Bowie's Diamond Dogs tour. In particular, County maintains that the song "Queenage Baby" was a prototype for Bowie's song "Rebel Rebel", a claim which is supported by some rock critics.
In 1974 County formed Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys, which recorded three tracks for Max's Kansas City: New York New Wave, a compilation that also featured Suicide, Pere Ubu, Cherry Vanilla and The Fast. Wayne County and The Backstreet Boys played regularly at CBGB and Max's Kansas City, where County was also a DJ. In 1976, she appeared in the film The Blank Generation, directed by Amos Poe and Ivan Kral. The film, the recording and the shows were the beginnings of what came to be known as punk rock, and helped define the movement.
In 1977 County moved to London, where the English punk scene was just emerging, and formed Wayne County & the Electric Chairs. County released the EP Electric Chairs 1977, plus a single on Illegal Records. This was followed by "Fuck Off", recorded as a single for Safari Records and supported with a European tour. While in London, County met Derek Jarman, who cast her as "Lounge Lizard" in the seminal punk film Jubilee, which also starred Adam Ant, Toyah Willcox, Ian Charleson, Little Nell and Jordan. County and band are also featured in The Punk Rock Movie, by Don Letts, containing part of a 1977 performance at The Roxy club in London.
In 1978, the Wayne County song "F##ked by the Devil," was recorded by Jimi LaLumia and The Psychotic Frogs. The song was released on Jimi LaLumia and The Psychotic Frogs' EP Typically Tasteless. It was a vinyl EP that instantly sold 10,000 copies. Later on Jimi LaLumia would work with Wayne County in a managerial position.
Shortly after this, Wayne County and The Electric Chairs recorded their first, eponymous album, as well as another EP, Blatantly Offensive, which contained "Fuck Off" and "Toilet Love." After their touring in support of these releases was done, they recorded Storm the Gates of Heaven. Their next album, released in 1979, was Things Your Mother Never Told You, which featured several songs based on County's experiences in Germany. The album was produced by David Cunningham. After it was released, the band broke up and County, along with guitarist Eliot Michaels, returned to the U.S.
When County moved to Berlin in 1979, she changed her stage name to "Jayne County", publicly identifying as a woman for the first time. County's release of Rock and Roll Resurrection (In Concert) on Safari Records, was under this new name. The first live show under County's new name in Toronto, Canada, sparked erroneous rumors of a sex change operation.
In 1983 County returned to New York where she appeared in the theatrical production Les Girls with Holly Woodlawn. Shortly thereafter she returned to London for the première of City of Lost Souls and stayed long enough to record and tour another album, Private Oyster, with Warren Heighway as manager. Her band included members of various UK based rock bands, including Manchester-based guitarists, Stu Clarke and Chris Lynch [Rockson], Mark Pearson on bass and Bazz Creece on drums. Following widespread media attention, she returned to the U.S.In the From 1990 onwards many of County's earlier recordings were re-released, including the early Safari tracks, on a CD called Rock & Roll Cleopatra. She recorded the album Goddess of Wet Dreams in 1993, followed by Deviation in 1995. Later that year, she appeared in Wigstock: The Movie and released her autobiography, Man Enough to Be a Woman. From 1989-1997, Jayne County & The Electric Chairs consisted of Jayne on vocals, Mark Pearson on bass, Paul Wainwright on guitar, and Colin Rocks on drums. This lineup recorded and toured the UK and Europe during this time.
Since that time several new tracks have surfaced on various compilations and through County's official website. Many of these tracks, both live and studio recordings, were collected on the Ratcage Records release So New York, including collaborations with Lisa Jackson and former Electric Chairs guitarist Eliot Michaels. A live show, recorded on County's birthday, was released on the 2002 CD Wash Me in the Blood (of Rock & Roll)- Live at Squeeze Box by Fang Records. The CD features a duet on "California Sun" by County and former nemesis "Handsome" Dick Manitoba of The Dictators.
After leaving New York City, County settled in the Atlanta area where she has a band called the Electrick Queers with guitarist Jet Terror, bassist Gary Yoxen, and drummer Rob Kirkland. In 2014 she released a DVD of Wayne/Jayne County and The Electric Chairs, Live in Germany from 1978. On July 22, 2015, Jayne County & the Electrick Queers headlined ARMageddon, to benefit Blast-Off Burlesque's Trey Chic.
On 23 September 2017, County released a five-track extended play download by Jayne County and The JC5 entitled "Here Come The JC5".
In 2018, County debuted a retrospective show of visual art at Participant, Inc, a gallery in New York City. Comprising five decades of work, Paranoia Paradise included paintings, drawings, collages, and photography.
|1975||Night Lunch||Ivan Kral and Amos Poe|
|1976||The Blank Generation||Ivan Kral and Amos Poe|
|1977||Punk in London||Wolfgang Büld|
|1977||The Punk Rock Movie||Don Letts|
|1982||Stadt der verlorenen Seelen (City of Lost Souls)||Rosa von Praunheim|
|1995||Wigstock: The Movie||Barry Shils|
|1999||Born to Lose: The Last Rock and Roll Movie||Lech Kowalski|
|2001||Freaks, Glam Gods and Rock Stars||Tim Ryan|
|2003||End of the Century||Jim Fields and Michael Gramaglia|
|2007||King of Punk||Kenneth van Schooten|
|2008||Squeezebox!||Steven Saporito and Zach Shaffer|
|2009||Burning Down the House: The Story of CBGB||Mandy Stein|
|2010||Beautiful Darling||James Rasin|
|2012||Jobriath A.D.||Kieran Turner|
|1978||The Electric Chairs||Safari|
|1978||Storm the Gates of Heaven||Safari|
|1979||Things Your Mother Never Told You||Safari|
|1980||Rock and Roll Resurrection (In Concert)||Safari/Attic Records Limited|
|1989||Betty Grable's Legs||Jungle|
|1993||Goddess of Wet Dreams||ESP|
|2002||Wash Me in the Blood (of Rock & Roll)- Live at Squeeze Box||Fang|
|2003||So New York||Ratcage|
|2006||Wayne County at the Trucks||Munster|
"Goddess Of Wet Dreams-The Legacy Edition" MVD "Amerikan Cleopatra/Private Oyster-The Legacy Edition" MVD
|1976||Max's Kansas City 1976||Ram Stereo 1213|
|1977||The Electric Chairs||Illegal|
|2017||Here Come The JC5||Adrastea Music|