By Dan Wooding
BRANSON, MO (December
-- Singer Jimmie Rodgers had the world at his
feet when a terrible beating changed his life -- and brought him back to God.
Now 67 years old,
delighting audiences at the Remember When
Theater in Branson, MO, singing many of his 38 top 40 hits, including "Kisses
Sweeter Than Wine," "Honeycomb," and "Secretly."
Rodgers was one of
stars in early rock and roll history,
especially when he played the Brooklyn Paramount with Buddy Holly, The
Diamonds and the Del Vikings. It was the fifties, and rock and roll was
sweeping the world.
"I roomed with Buddy
and we also shared a dressing room at the
Paramount," he said in an interview. "Buddy was very much the gentleman and
I had the feeling that he was not a four-letter word guy and pretty much kept
to himself. In fact, both of us did. We were both really shy kids."
A CRASHING HALT
But it all came to a
halt in December of 1967. "I had been at the
Twentieth Century Fox studios in L.A. all day," Rodgers explained. "I was
getting ready to do a film with them and I was working on a motion picture
script and musical story for stage called 'The World Through the Eyes of
Children,' which is a complete two-hour musical.
"We had been to a
party and I had been with my conductor all
evening. He was staying at my place and he was following me home. I was
driving at about 2:00 AM and someone pulled up behind me and blinked his
lights. I thought it was my conductor, so I pulled over and stopped in a
little side street in the San Fernando Valley. Some guy came up to the
window and, thinking it was my conductor, I rolled the window down and that
is last thing I can remember."
Jimmy was beaten so
doctors had to reconstruct his skull and use
a 20-inch square plate.
He continued the
conductor had gone on to my home and waited for
me there. When I did not show up, he came back and found my car and there
was a car parked behind my automobile with a police car behind it. The car
behind my automobile took off and then the police car left. We eventually found
out that the guy who stopped me was an off-duty policeman. He later called the
police to come out to the scene where I had been beaten. Everybody suspected
that it was the off-duty policeman who attacked me, but nobody can prove
THREE BRAIN SURGERIES
Jimmie Rodgers was so
injured that he had three brain surgeries
following the beating. "This ended my career at that time and it took just
about thirty years for me to get back to being able to work," he said. "I
had to learn to do everything all over again. That's when God came back
into my life.
Jimmie had been
raised in a
Christian home in the town of Camas in
Washington. He had had committed his life to Jesus Christ "My mother was a
strong Christian with a lot of faith and us kids were raised that way; but
when I grew up I went sideways."
But a healing miracle
him back to a full commitment to God. "After
the beating, I couldn't walk very well and I couldn't speak or pick things
up," Rodgers recalled. "I could ambulate a little bit, but I had a lot of
difficulty with my motor senses and the nerves. I suffered from seizures
because of the extensive surgery. I was fortunate to be alive."
The miracle took
place at a
prayer meeting at his Southern California home.
"Some of the members of my church came over one evening," he said. "I was
bedridden at that time. After the prayer meeting where I was prayed for,
everybody left and this was at Christmas time and I told my wife, 'I'm
starting to feel very strange.' It was like air going out of my body. We
had prayed about this. The next day I got out of bed, got off all the
medication and ended up never really going back, except to sleep. It was a
"God just reached out
his arms around me. There is no doubt about it
whatsoever. I went from walking with a walker to running 23-mile marathons!
I was running 10 miles every other day."
He went on to say,
it sometimes takes something dramatic to
bring you back to God. I now have a sign on my word processor that says,
'What God doesn't protect you from He provides you through." I believe
that. I don't think that the Lord is meant to protect us from everything. We
have choices and we make those choices and sometimes those choices get us into
trouble. That's the freedom of being a Christian. We all have a choice."
When asked what it
to back singing his old hits, Rodgers said,
"It's exciting. It's a revelation for me to have been out of the business for so
long," he said. "I was always able to write and create things and my
background is one of being artistic, so I've always worked; but to be able
to sing again and entertain audiences in terrific. My Branson show began in
April of 1999. My show goes April, May and June and then September,
October, November and December."
Jimmie's first wife,
died from a clot on the brain shortly after
the beating. He is now married to Mary, and they have a little girl who is
eleven years old, and they have now been married for 23 years.
For those who are in
Jimmie Rodgers can be found singing his heart
out in the Remember When Theater in the IMAX complex. The phone number is
For Jimmie Rodgers,
discovered that God's embrace is really sweeter
Dan Wooding is an
British journalist now living in Southern California with his wife
He is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special
Saints in Strategic Times). Wooding is also a syndicated columnist, and
was for ten years a commentator on the UPI Radio Network in Washington,
DC. Wooding is the author of some 39 books, one of which is "Blind
which he co-authored with his 92-year-old mother Anne Wooding, who was
a pioneer missionary to the blind of Nigeria in the 1930s. Copies
of this book are available from the ASSIST USA office at PO Box 2126,
Grove, CA 92842-2126. His writings are on the ASSIST Website at:
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