Jim Holvay

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Jim Holvay
Holvay in 2016
Holvay in 2016
Background information
Birth nameJames Steven Holvay
Also known as"Soul"
Born (1945-05-16) May 16, 1945 (age 77)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
GenresSoul, rhythm and blues, pop, rock
Years active1961–present
LabelsCameo Parkway, USA, Mercury, Twinight, Daylight, Colossus, Private Stock, Odyssey

James Steven "Jimmy Soul" Holvay (born May 16, 1945) is an American songwriter and musician best known for writing "Kind of a Drag",[1] a number one hit for The Buckinghams. He is one of the founding members of The MOB, the first rock band to perform at a Presidential Inaugural Concert & Ball.[2]

Holvay has co-written other songs for The Buckinghams, including "Don't You Care", "Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song)", and "Susan",[3] and for other artists including The MOB ("I Dig Everything About You," "Give It To Me").[4]

Early life[edit]

Before his teen years, while attending St. Barbara School in Brookfield, Jim's brother, Dennis, brought home the 78 rpm record of "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley And His Comets, which accelerated Jimmy's interest in music.

With money saved, Jim bought his first guitar along with a Mel Bay chord book at the age of 12. Dennis found out the frustrations about how hard it was to push the strings down to the fret board and had an idea. When their father asked Dennis what he thought Jimmy would like for Christmas that year the answer was a better guitar. That Christmas Jim unwrapped the princely sum of $75, a Hofner archtop guitar. That spring, Dennis suggested to his father that Jimmy would like a DeArmond pickup and a Supro amplifier for Jim's birthday.

In 7th grade he formed The Rockin' Rebels. His first paying gig was at the opening of a Go-Kart Shop in Lyons, IL. A couple years of guitar lessons plus a recording session featuring two blues-progression instrumentals, Jim entered Lyons Township High School as a freshman in 1959. Then, he played in a group called Jimmy & The Jesters. His father drove him to Record Row on the south side of Chicago. Within a few blocks of each other were the labels Vee Jay, Constellation, King and Chess Records. Jim met Chess Records A&R Willie Dixon with his acetate tape in hand. Even though Jim was turned down, to his advantage, he received constructive criticism that would help him. Jim also met Leonard Chess and Curtis Mayfield who influenced Jim's songwriting and guitar playing. While in high school, he purchased a sunburst-finish Fender Stratocaster, played and recorded a couple of songs on Terry Records with an Aurora, Illinois band named The MayBees and met his longtime collaborator, Gary Beisbier. During his junior and senior years, Holvay connected with Jim Lounsbury, the local TV dance show host, and played at the Lounsbury record hops in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin. Holvay graduated in 1963 and joined a band called The Chicagoans with Gary.

In the summer of '63, The Chicagoans became the house band on "Danceville, U.S.A." Lounsbury's weekly live TV show. In the fall, the group moved to New York and played The Peppermint Lounge, The Metropole Cafe and Arthur's Tavern. The Chicagoans went on tour traveling to countless venues across the U.S. and Canada. One recording session yielded an instrumental written by Holvay and Beisbier titled "Beatle Time." WLS Program Director Clark Weber suggested the group should be called The Livers (referring to Liverpool) and the record charted on the Silver Dollar Survey in the spring of 1964. After tours playing ballrooms thru out the midwest backing up Terry Stafford, Chubby Checker, Nino Tempo & April Stevens- the group moved to San Francisco. Then, they worked clubs in North Beach (pre-"Monterey") alongside Sly Stewart & his Mojo Men, The Beau Brummels, Pat & Lolly Vegas, The Gauchos, The Nooney Rickett 4. Afterwards, Jim returned home and registered for Junior College.

While in college, Jim wrote and produced various local artists, most notably, Ral Donner and Dee Clark. Then Jim was offered a gig as the guitarist for the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars.

Caravan of Stars[edit]

Holvay worked as a permanent guitarist on the Dick Clark Caravan of Stars tour, criss-crossed the US and Canada in Greyhound buses and backed-up artists. The Caravan Of Stars was a road show featuring some of the most popular stars and musical groups produced and presented by Dick Clark. While on the Caravan Of Stars bus, Jim and Brian Hyland wrote songs together. Later, Jim enrolled back in junior college.

The MOB first to feature The Chicago Horn Rock Sound[edit]

One goal was to help finance school tuition by playing clubs with a "dream" band. November 1965, Sistak posed the question to Holvay. "Jim. If you could wave a magic wand, what kind've [sic] a group would you put together?" Holvay responded, "I'd put together an ass-kicking horn band with the best musicians I could find. We'd play soul music and have the greatest live show that ever existed. It's never been done before." After seeing an old gangster movie on a late night movie TV channel on WGN, Holvay came up with the concept for the group. The name of that old movie was called The MOB.[2] The group will have a full blown horn section, singers, etc., so there'll be a mob of people on stage. Being from a gangster town, the group will wear pinstripe suits, black shirts, white ties and carnations.[5]

WLS Radio may have been the first station to break "Cherish" by The Association, which went to number one and subsequently spread across the country. The record label flew The Association out to Chicago to thank the jocks at the station for playing the record and making it number one. After their visit to the radio station, Terry Kirkman and the guys said that they asked who the hot band was in town. The jocks told the fellas, "Go see The MOB out at a club near O'Hare". (i.e. The Wine and Roses) The MOB met The Association and became good friends, which resulted in The MOB becoming their opening act on a lot of their college dates (years later, The Association's manager Pat Collechio, became The MOB's manager).

The Association flew back home to LA and told Capitol Records that they need to sign this great band which they had just seen in Chi Town. Within a few weeks, The MOB recorded in Studio A at the famous Capitol Records tower on Vine Street in Hollywood. It may have been believe Nik Venet who produced three songs that Gary and Jimmy had written. After that session, The MOB flew back home to continue residency at The Wine and Roses and waited to hear what the verdict was on our newly created horn rock sound. Note, at that time, every group in Chicago consisted of two guitars, bass and drums or maybe a Vox organ or a sax.

Sal Innucci (the then President of Capitol Records) heard the tracks and said, "Dump the horns and add more guitars". The group wasn't going to do that because that's not who the group was. The MOB felt they had something different and unique that would separate us from all of the Beatle influenced bands there were happening at the time.


Carl Bonafede was a Chicago band promoter for weekly dances at local ballrooms. He managed The Buckinghams when Carl gave Jim a call. Jim Holvay first met Carl Bonafede at a Jim Lounsbury record hop, the Willowbrook Ballroom, while Carl was singing with the Gem-Tones back in 1960.[6] Carl told Jim that The Buckinghams covered Beatles songs and Jim replied that he wrote R&B/soul songs. "I was dinking around on a spinet piano in a music practice room at Lyons Township Junior College and wrote Kind of a Drag. I wasn't sure Carl remembered I was a songwriter until he asked if I had any tunes. Yeah, I do have something, and Carl asked when he could hear it. I remember cutting a demo of the song on acoustic guitar between shows," he recalled.[7]

Later Carl with a Wollensak tape recorder, found Jim at a club where, in the dressing room, he played his "pop genre" tune on an acoustic guitar. Months later "Kind Of A Drag" was on WLS Radio. Turns out that the producer added horns to the song because of hearing The MOB perform at clubs around town.[8] He knew Jim Holvay of the R & B group the MOB to be a good songwriter from previous use of his songs.[9]

The-Mob South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association inductee[edit]

Located in Sioux Falls, SD during the 70s was the renown showroom, the Mocamba Club. Top acts played the club and The MOB is said to be, the most booked act and the biggest draws that the Mocamba Club had. October 2010, Don Fritz, President of the South Dakota Rock & Roll Music Association informed that The MOB was selected under the category "bands". Inducted April 16, 2011, at the Ramkota Exhibit Hall in Sioux Falls, SD more than 2,000 people in attendance saw and heard The MOB in person, their first reunion in 35 years.[10]

Eastside Heartbeats, a new Rock 'n' roll musical[edit]

Jim was interviewed by Tom Waldman for a 2014 KLCS-TV PBS episode of Rock 'N Roll Stories.[11] Tom co-wrote the 1998 book "Land Of A Thousand Dances: Chicano Rock 'N' Roll From Southern California" with David Reyes. Waldman wrote a script based on the music scene of East L.A. in the sixties and showed Holvay. Tom then asked Jim to compose music for the play.[12] The tunes were to feel like Cannibal & the Headhunters' "Land of a 1,000 Dances" but original. The songs, sung by an unknown group following their dream and opening for a group like The Beatles at a venue similar to the Hollywood Bowl in 1965. Holvay worked with David Reyes, Rudy Salas and Tom Waldman resulting in the soundtrack for Eastside Heartbeats-The Musical.[13]

Discography (limited label composer credits)[edit]

  • Billy Eckstine – I Dig Everything About You – Motorcity Records MOTC LP41 (1990)
  • Brian Hyland – One Night Jimmy – Phillips PHM 200-217 (1966)
  • Brian Hyland – Stay Away From Her – Phillips 40306 (1965)
  • Buchanan – Kind Of A Drag – Hit Records 277 (1967)
  • Chick And The Nobles – Island For Two – USA 772 (1964)
  • Cisse – Kind Of A Drag – Scandia SLP 669 (1979)
  • Cisse Häkkinen – Kind Of A Drag – Sonet Grammofon AB – SLP-3047 (1979)
  • Dee Clark – I Can't Run Away – Constellation C-155 (1965)
  • Dee Clark – She's My Baby – Constellation C-155 (1965)
  • Donovan James
  • Eastside Heartbeats – We're the Eastside Heartbeats Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – They Don't Know Me Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – It's All Good Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – Stars By '66 Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – Bad Dads Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – Don't Screw up (La La Song) Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – We Got Fans Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – Thank You Mr. Epstein Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – We Are One Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – If You Only Knew Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – Take Me Back to the Eastside Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Eastside Heartbeats – We Got Fans (Reprise) Agave Entertainment, llc (2016)
  • Father Time – Another Summer To Remember – Impala C-T 4 (xxxx)
  • Frank Pizani – Candy And Me – Chi-Town C-T-3 (1976)
  • Image – Kind Of A Drag – Chaparral 552 (xxxx)
  • Jimmy Peterson
  • J.E.F – Japanese Electric Foundation – Don't You Care – Popsize PTP-90393 (1986)
  • Jonna – Like It Is – Puppet Records & Yume Records FITROCD013 (2015)
  • Kane And Abel – Break Down And Cry – Destination 607 (1965)
  • Kane And Abel – He Will Break Your Heart – Red Bird 10-059 (1966)
  • Kane And Abel – Life Of The Party – Destination 619 (1966)
  • Loreen Church – Put Down – Barry B-3355X (1965)
  • Mike And Michael – My Neighborhood – Constellation C-156 (1964)
  • Mike And Michael – Where Have You Been – Constellation C-156 (1964)
  • Mike And Michael – My Neighborhood – Manhattan M-36 (1964)
  • Mike And Michael – Where Have You Been – Manhattan M-36 (1964)
  • Mike Nelson – I Dig Everything About You – Thunder Tummy MN-101 (1974)
  • Mousie & The Traps – How About You – Toddlin' Town 8204 (1966)
  • Mousie & The Traps – It's All In The Way (You Look At It Baby) – Toddlin' Town 8204 (1966)
  • Ral Donner – It Will Only Make Me Love You More – Red Bird RB 10-057 (1966)
  • The Buckinghams – Don't You Care – Columbia 4-44053 (1967)
  • The Buckinghams – Hey Baby (They're Playing Our Song) – Columbia 4-44254 (1967)
  • The Buckinghams – Kind Of A Drag – USA 860 (1966)
  • The Buckinghams – Love Ain't Enough – USA 853 (1966)
  • The Buckinghams – Makin' Up And Breakin' Up – USA 848 (1966)
  • The Buckinghams – Makin' Up And Breakin' Up – USA 869 (1967)
  • The Buckinghams – Susan (song) – Columbia 4-44378 (1967)
  • The Buckinghams – Why Don't You Love Me – Columbia 4-44053 (1967)
  • The Chicago Fire – Come See What I've Got – USA 898 (1968)
  • The Chicago Fire – Candy And Me – USA 898 (1968)
  • The Chords – Don't You Care – Hit Records 291 (1967)
  • The Illinois Tollway – Another Summer To Remember – Spectra Sound 101 (xxxx)
  • The Illinois Tollway – Candy And Me – Spectra Sound 101 (xxxx)
  • The Livers (The Chicagoans) – Beatle Time – Constellation C-118 (1964)
  • The Missing Links – Makin' Up And Breaking Up – Signett 931S-6460 (1966)
  • The Missing Links – You Hypnotize Me – Signett 931S-6460 (1966)
  • The MOB
  • The Nobles – That Special One – USA 788 (1965)
  • The Outsiders – Kind Of A Drag – Capitol T-2636 (1967)
  • The Quests – She's The One – Columbia 33OSX-7775 (1966)
  • The Thunderbirds – Before It's Too Late – Delaware D-1710 (1965)
  • Thee Prophets – Kind Of A Drag – Kapp KS-3596 (1969)


  1. ^ Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Fred Bronson; Reference. Billboard. ISBN 978-0-8230-7677-2. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  2. ^ Daily News New York, New York Sun, January 21, 1973 · Page 203
  3. ^ Billboard. "The Buckinghams – Chart History Billboard; Reference". Billboard. Retrieved January 31, 2017
  4. ^ Billboard. "The MOB – Chart History Billboard; Reference". Billboard. Retrieved January 31, 2017.
  5. ^ [1], Carolina Beach Music: The Classic Years By Rick Simmons.
  6. ^ Bierig, Joel (2016). The Screaming Wildman. Chicago IL: Chi-Town Music History. p. 216. ISBN 978-1-5394-2096-5.
  7. ^ Bierig, Joel (2016). The Screaming Wildman (First ed.). Chicago IL: Chi-town Music History. p. 217. ISBN 978-1-5394-2096-5.
  8. ^ "U.S.A. Discography". www.bsnpubs.com. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  9. ^ "Bill Dahl – My Hero: Dennis Tufano". billdahl.com. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  10. ^ "Inductee – MOB". The South Dakota Rock and Roll Music Association. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  11. ^ "Rock N' Roll Stories: James Holvay from KLCS TV".
  12. ^ "15 May 2016, F3 – The Los Angeles Times at Newspapers.com".
  13. ^ "Eastside Heartbeats website". Retrieved April 30, 2017.


External links[edit]