Jayne County, is an accomplished musician, actress, and Punk rock & Glam rock icon. Born, Wayne Rogers, she went on to become rock’s first transgender singer. Jayne did not think her birth name “sounded glamorous,” so she chose to adopt the name of the county in Detroit, Michigan, where she lived. She admired the bands from that area, such as Iggy Pop.
Her influential success far surpasses her commercial success. Jayne has influenced musicians including David Bowie, The Ramones, Patti Smith, Lou Reed and The New York Dolls. Jools Holland, pianist and musical icon, made his studio debut on her single, “Fuck Off.”
My biggest influence, she’s the person who really got me started
She frequented the Stonewall Inn, and took part in the Stonewall riots; the pivotal moment in the LBGT rights movement in the late 1960’s. She was a member of Andy Warhol’s The Factory, starring in Jackie Curtis’s Femme Fatale in 1969, which also starred Patti Smith. Jayne cites Jackie as “My biggest influence, she’s the person who really got me started.”
After Femme Fatale, she wrote a play entitled, World-Birth of a Nation(The Castration of Man). Set in a hospital, it was related to the castration of the male sex. Singer-songwriter, Cherry Vanilla, also starred in World. She went on to be David Bowie’s publicist, then the publicist for Vangelis. County went on to star in succeeding films throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s, including “The Blank Generation,” “Jubilee,” also starring Adam Ant, “The Punk Rock Movie,” and “Les Girls,” alongside Holly Woodlawn.
County formed “Queen Elizabeth,” one of the pioneering early 1970’s punk bands. “Elizabeth” was signed to MainMan Artistes, David Bowie’s management firm. Though no music was ever pressed, and footage from the filmed stage show “Wayne at the Trucks” was never released, she maintains this show was the inspiration for Bowie’s Diamond Dogs tour. One of the songs performed, “Queenage Baby,” County cites as the inspiration for Bowie’s “Rebel, Rebel.” A claim supported by many rock critics.
County formed “Wayne County and the Backstreet Boys” in 1974, and they were regulars at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. County moved London, and in 1977, formed “Wayne County and the Electric Chairs.” This album released the single “Fuck Off,” for Safari Records. In 1979, Wayne moved to Berlin and here changed her stage name to “Jayne County,” for the first time publically identifying as a woman. Her first live show, in Toronto Canada sparked rumors about a sex change operation. To this day, Jayne maintains she has not had any gender reassignment surgery, but does take female hormones.
Jayne County has settled in the Atlanta area, and currently has a band, “Electrik Queers” with Jet Terror, Gary Yoxen and Rob Kirkland; guitarist, bassist and drummer, respectively.
Here Jayne County sings “Are You Man Enough To Be A Woman,” circa 1978
I can groove to her guttural voice and the rawness of the punk-era sound. Known for her stage antics, her influence cannot be ignored. What a privilege would it have been to see her perform live at CBGB, what a perfect fit in sound, movement and culture.
mir, irini, peace, amn,