Wild, frantic, dangerous and a thousand more adjectives come to mind every time I hear The Phantom beg for his girl’s love amid screams and moans with testosterone through the clouds. A psychotic explosion of lust and lack of control that has finally become the quintessence of Rockabilly.
But who is hiding behind that mask? Jerry Lott / Marty Lott aka « The Phantom » was born near Mobile, Alabama in 1938 and like so many others, sold his soul to the Devil when he first heard Elvis Presley in 1956.
With Presley’s almost demonic style in mind, he wrote « Love Me » in ten minutes and was recorded at Mobile’s Gulf Coast Studio in the summer of 1958 with « Whisper Your Love. »
Jerry convinced Pat Boone (yes, yes … THAT Pat Boone!) To produce the album and thanks to it was released on Dot Records two years later. It was Boone who also suggested the mask trick and that it be nicknamed « The Phantom »!
The single was not a success and in 1966 Lott suffered a serious car accident that paralyzed him until his death in 1983, at 45 years of age.
In the 70s The Cramps claimed him as one of the most insane Rockers of the 50’s with Gene Maltais or Hasil Adkins.
A new generation discovered with astonishment that this device was more insane than a chest full of Punk Rock records thanks to the fanzine « Kicks » (Norton Records) and a handful of European bootlegs.
The versions of the Blue Cats and The Meteors did nothing but increase their popularity in the Rockabilly scene. Good proof of this is to check the astronomical figures reached by the original single.
For the first time and without precedent I will say, thank you Pat Boone for the wildest Rock’n’Roll song ever recorded!