It has been almost twenty years since Rod Bernard charged onto the pop charts with the million seller “This Should Go On Forever”, which even today ranks as one of the biggest jukebox request records in the South. Yet in all that the time that has passed, that song has stayed with him as he has developed into an explosive stage personality.
The Rod Bernard story began in Opelousas, Louisiana where young Rod fell under the spell of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and local boys Frankie Ford and Jimmy Clanton. After many hours of practice in his room, at school, and while cruising in his car, he decided he could sing as well as his heroes and proceeded to prove the point by travelling to Jay Miller’s recording studio in Crowley, Louisiana. The result was a thick-as-molasses lover’s lament, “This Should Go On Forever”, a triplet blues that crossed color lines without detection due to a booming baritone saxophone and a voice that oozed sincerity.
“It was also very immoral”, Bernard explains, revealing the song’s hidden appeal. He sings out the guilty line: “If it’s a sin to love you / Then a sinner I’ll always be” and explains those were exactly the words he lip-synched on the first of many American Bandstand appearances. Host Dick Clark asked Rod to recut the record, changing the word ‘sin’ to ‘wrong’. Bernard went back to the studio and made a special cleaned-up version for Bandstand. “It was a big thing then!” Bernard muses. “But now it seems kind of ridiculous considering the songs that are played on the radio today”.
Rod’s story, of course, doesn’t end with singing risqué lyrics in 1959. Shortly thereafter he worked on the Mercury label in Nashville trying to follow up his big hit, but to no avail. Ironically, as soon as he returned to the Bayou land, he assembled a four piece band that included two light-skinned teens from Beaumont named Johnny and Edgar Winter and immediately clicked with another national hit “Colinda”, the best selling version of that Cajun classic. “They spent thousands of dollars in Nashville, and couldn’t come up with anything and we paid a Louisiana band ten dollars a piece to cut ‘Colinda’”, Rod says with a touch of amusement.
Today Rod stills sings - on television station KLFY in Lafayette, Cajun capital of the world, and at dances throughout South Louisiana. Although Rod admits his repertoire includes some modern easy listening tunes and songs made famous by other people, he reports fans still demand the hits made famous by Rod Bernard. “Last week in Lake Charles they wouldn’t go home until I did all my own stuff” he says.
True to form, Rod’s material is a s fresh today as it was twenty years ago. Crazy Cajun Records, under the guidance of the legendary Huey P. Meaux, takes pleasure in presenting this compilation of Rod Bernard, old and new, for your listening pleasure. At last, the world can hear the unadulterated music that makes a Lala dance something special to Bayou natives and visitors alike.
Joe Nick Patoski
Voices of Americana : Texas Rollercoaster Feeling - Rod Bernard