When Grandpa and Grandma were very young and living on the North Shore, many frequented a few places in Highwood, where they could dance and enjoy a few brews. One such place was the “Talley Ho,” a night club on the East side of the tracks. It was what was then called a “three card” club for reasons that Gramps or I will be happy to explain.
Now, in the late fifties, there was a singer and his band who played there five nights a week.
His name was HAYDEN THOMPSON. He was born a few miles north of Elvis Presley's birthplace Tupelo in 1938. Knowing Elvis and definitely Influenced by him, Thompson wanted to play rock 'n' roll rather than Country. With the nucleus of this band (including Jerry Lee Lewis on piano) he recorded "Love My Baby" on December 20, 1956 in the Sun studio.
Sun never issued a second Hayden Thompson single and disillusioned, Hayden headed north to Chicago in 1958. There he worked the Talley HO in Highwood and recorded for some small labels (B.E.A.T., Profile, Arlen), but nothing caught on. He supplemented his income as a limo driver which gave him the freedom to play his music in the area and release the odd single release. His best chance came in 1966, when he had three singles and an LP ("Here's Hayden Thompson") released on Kapp Records. These recordings secured him a guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, but Thompson could never quite capitalize on his opportunities. Being based in Chicago in a Nashville-dominated country scene didn't help either.
He stayed in the Chicago area driving a limo, but his career lay dormant until the “rockabilly” revival in Europe, where his unissued Sun recordings had become available and popular. In 1984, he made his first trip to Europe and was stunned by the size of the audiences and their enthusiastic reactions. A few years later in the Netherlands, hundreds greeted him at the airport and lines of fans cheered as he WAS limo-driven to enraptured audiences at the festival. Since then he has made several return visits, but he never gave up his day job as a limo driver. To this day, Hayden has never understood why he didn't make it as an artist back in the fifties, but he is grateful that he got a second chance.
Though he never scored a hit in the U.S., his place in the history of rockabilly is assured…as is his place in the hearts of those North Shore kids who loved to rock his music.
A Highwood Legend.