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Jim Dickinson (2009)
|Birth name||James Luther Dickinson|
November 15, 1941|
Little Rock, Arkansas
|Died||August 15, 2009
|Occupation(s)||record producer, pianist, and singer|
|Instruments||Piano, vocals, guitar|
James Luther "Jim" Dickinson (November 15, 1941 - August 15, 2009) was an American record producer, pianist, and singer who fronted, among others, the Memphis, Tennessee-based band Mud Boy and the Neutrons. He was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame in 2012.
Dickinson was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and subsequently raised in Chicago and Memphis. He attended Baylor University as a drama major and eventually graduated from the University of Memphis, where he became acquainted with pioneering music journalist Stanley Booth. Following graduation, he played on recording sessions for Bill Justis and recorded at Chips Moman's American Studios. Dickinson recorded what has been described as the last great single released by Sun Records—"Cadillac Man" b/w "My Babe" by The Jesters (1966)—playing piano and singing lead on both sides despite not being an actual member of the group.
In the late 1960s, Dickinson joined with fellow Memphis musicians Charlie Freeman (guitar), Michael Utley (keyboards), Tommy McClure (bass) and Sammy Creason (drums); this group became known as the Dixie Flyers and backed a variety of performers, including Hank Ballard, James Carr, Albert Collins, and The Tempters. In 1970, the group began to back Atlantic Records' venerable stable of soul acts at the behest of producer Jerry Wexler (who was introduced to the group by Booth) following the acrimonious dissolution of his relationship with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. Based out of Criteria Studios in Miami, Florida, they recorded Aretha Franklin's 1970 hit "Spirit in the Dark"; over the next year, the Flyers also contributed to recordings by Carmen McRae, Delaney & Bonnie, Jerry Jeff Walker, Dee Dee Warwick, Ronnie Hawkins, Sam & Dave, Dion, Brook Benton, Lulu, Sam the Sham, and Esther Phillips. Unable to acclimate to Miami and the variegated production styles of Wexler, Tom Dowd, and Arif Mardin, Dickinson heeded the advice of erstwhile Muscle Shoals guitarist Duane Allman and left the group to pursue a solo career in 1971; the remaining Flyers backed Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge for several years before ultimately disbanding in the mid 1970s.
In the 1970s, he became known as a producer, recording Big Star's Third in 1974, as well as serving as co-producer with Alex Chilton on the 1979 Chilton album Like Flies on Sherbert. He produced an eclectic range of performers, including Willy DeVille, Green on Red, Mojo Nixon, The Replacements, Tav Falco's Panther Burns and Screamin' Jay Hawkins; and in 1977 an aural documentary of Memphis' Beale Street, Beale Street Saturday Night, which featured performances by Sid Selvidge, Furry Lewis and Dickinson's band Mud Boy and the Neutrons. As a session musician in his own right, he played piano on The Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in December 1969; contributed to the Flamin' Groovies' album Teenage Head in 1971; worked with Ry Cooder on nearly a dozen records beginning in 1972; recorded a one-off single ("Red Headed Woman") with The Cramps in 1984; and played electric piano & pump organ on Bob Dylan's 1997 comeback album Time Out of Mind. In 1998, he produced Mudhoney's Tomorrow Hit Today.
In May 1999, Dickinson participated in a one-off recording collaboration, Raisins in the Sun, with Jules Shear, Harvey Brooks, Paul Q. Kolderie, Chuck Prophet, Sean Slade, and Winston Watson. The recording was released by Rounder Records in 2001.
His sons Luther and Cody, who played on his 2002 solo effort Free Beer Tomorrow, and the 2006 Jungle Jim and the Voodoo Tiger, have achieved success on their own as the North Mississippi Allstars.
Dickinson also made a recording with Pete (Sonic Boom) Kember of Spacemen 3 fame. "Indian Giver" was released in 2008 by Birdman Records under the name of Spectrum Meets Captain Memphis, with Captain Memphis, obviously, referring to Dickinson.
In 2007 Dickinson played with the Memphis-based rock band Snake Eyes. The band, formed by Memphis musician Greg Roberson (former Reigning Sound drummer), featured Jeremy Scott (also from the Reigning Sound), Adam Woodard, and John Paul Keith. While the band disbanded in October 2008, Dickinson and Roberson went on to form another Memphis group, Ten High & the Trashed Romeos. This band included Jake and Toby Vest (of Memphis band The Bulletproof Vests) and Adam Hill. Ten High & the trashed Romeos recorded two albums, the first including all original compositions written by Dickinson and the band. The second album consisted entirely of covers of 1960's Memphis garage rock songs.
- Dixie Fried (1972, Atlantic; CD issued on SepiaTone, 2002)
- A Thousand Footprints in the Sand (live) (1997, Last Call/Sony, France)
- Free Beer Tomorrow (2002, Artemis)
- Jungle Jim and the Voodoo Tiger (2006, Memphis Int'l)
- Fishing with Charlie (Spoken Word) (2006, Birdman)
- Killers from Space (2007, Memphis Int'l)
- Dinosaurs Run in Circles (2009, Memphis Int'l)
- I'm Just Dead, I'm Not Gone (2012, Memphis Int'l)
With Mudboy and the Neutrons
- Known Felons in Drag (1986, New Rose)
- Negro Streets at Dawn (1993, New Rose)
- They Walk Among Us (1995, Koch)
With Raisins in the Sun
- Raisins in the Sun (2001, Rounder)
As a compiler
- Beale Street Saturday Night (1979, Memphis Development)
- Delta Experimental Project Vol. I (1988, New Rose/Fan Club, France)
- Delta Experimental Project Vol. II (1990, New Rose/Fan Club, France)
- Delta Experimental Project Vol. III (2003, Birdman)
- Gordon, Robert. It Came From Memphis, Pocket Books. ISBN 0-7434-1045-9.
|AMA Lifetime Achievement Award for Producer/Engineer