“There are cool cats and there are cool Memphis cats but no one, not
Elvis, not Jerry Lee, not even the Wolf came close to epitomizing Memphis
and cool like Jim Dickinson did. He was the Top Cat Daddy, an
inspiration, a mentor and my friend.

If you knew his music and understood his role as one of the links between
black and white culture and between blues and rock and roll, you know what
I'm talking about. If he is unfamiliar to you, now's as good time as any
to get to know him, even though he's checked out of the motel.”

--Joe Nick Patoski

For more about Jim go to

Monday, November 7, 2011

Americana Music Awards

Luther and Cody worked as part of Buddy Miller's house band,
backing various artists at the 2011 Americana Awards show.

Jim Dickinson- receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award for Engineering and Production from the Americana Music Association, Ryman Auditorium, Nashville,  Tennessee, 2007.

Listen to his speech below:

Jim Dickinson's Acceptance Speech for Americana Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award by Jim Dickinson's Legacy

Monday, October 10, 2011

Jim Dickinson and the Hardly Can Playboys

Jim Dickinson's first appearance with his very young sons at the Overton Park Shell in 1989 (Cody Dickinson we are told was 13 but looks even younger which makes Luther just almost old enough to drive maybe ...?) also includes Jim Lancaster on bass and Jim Spake on sax on this way-rocking version of J.B. Lenoir's "Down in Mississippi". The "Hardly Can Playboys" left no doubt from the start that the younger Dickinsons could keep up with their legendary Dad. Some of the most formative shows for all involved have taken place at the Shell and the younger Dickinsons have made many more appearances on this stage over the years while developing into North Mississippi All-Stars. 

This performance was part of the "Memphis Medicine Show", series of live radio broadcasts over WEVL-FM from the stage of the Overton Park Shell for two years in the late '80s.

The historic Memphis amphitheater was fully renovated in 2008 thanks to a generous grant from the Mortimer Levitt Foundation and the renamed Levitt Shell now sponsors 50 free concerts every year devoted to developing community through the performing arts.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Folk Festival Honors Jim Dickinson's Legacy

Although the music legend is no longer with us, Jim Dickinson is not about to be forgotten in Memphis, where he shaped the city's sound and made his mark on the music scene for four decades, as the Levitt Shell hosts the Jim Dickinson Folk Festival on Monday, September 19th.

The event boasts a stunning line-up that includes headliners North Mississippi Allstars, Lucero, Mojo Nixon, Jimbo Mathis, and Tri-State Coalition, Sons of Mudboy and Shannon McNally.

The Jim Dickinson Folk Festival event was first presented at the Shell shortly after he died on August 15th, 2009, and attracted more than 4,000 fans for an entire night of celebration and music.

Best knows as the founder and father of the North Mississippi Allstars, which included his two sons, Luther and Cody, Dickinson's talent included writing, singing, producing, and playing piano. He served as a cultural historian, Sun Studio musicians and enthusiastic collaborator with a wide range of talent. He left his musical imprint through whatever role he played, influencing musicians from Bob Dylan to John Hiatt, Ry Cooter and Alex Chilton. He recorded with and produced greats like Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan, Big Star, the Rolling Stones, The Replacements, and Sam and Dave.

Folk FEstival organizers are expecting as many or more people than the first year it was held--not surprising knowing how deep his roots run in Memphis, according to Anne Pitts, executive director of the Levitt Shell.

"Jim Dickinson is a great music legend, a wonderful soul and a friend to many," she said. "While we miss him, the power of his music and his spirit definitely live on, especially during the event. As Jim's epitaph says, "I'm just dead, I'm not gone."

Rain date is Tuesday, September 20th.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Jim Dickinson and Joe Hardy working at Ardent Studios

This is a picture of Jim producing with engineer, Joe Hardy, the first time they worked with the Fairlight in Studio C at Ardent. The artist, songwriter Sandy Carroll, said that Jim hated it, but that was before he and Joe mastered the new software and perfected the mysterious technique of Quantizing.

The owner/founder of Ardent, John Fry, said about quantizing, "Describe Quantizing in a simple way?  Impossible."

 Jim's son, Cody,  North Mississippi Allstars' drummer extraordinaire, talks about the Fairlight and his dad:
" I love this picture of Dad and Hardy, working on the Fairlight.  They were so far ahead of their time it is mind-boggling.  I remember Dad telling me about sampling snare drums before rap music even existed.  They were inventing the future."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"For Your Love"

In the mid-sixties in Memphis, Ronnie Jordan was a singer/songwriter who had a recording band called the Honey Jug and a contract with Stax's pop label, H.I.P. Being a friend of Jim's, Ronnie recorded the single at "old" Ardent on National, with Jim producing and John Fry engineering. One critic called it, "a killer Memphis 45."

The personnel on the "For Your Love/In 1852 We" single is as follows:

Ronnie Jordan-vox
Jim Dickinson, Tommy Duncan-keys
Frank Watts-guitar
Joe Savage-bass
Joe Correro Jr., Charles Carrington-drums

Here's what Jim said in an interview:

"That's a hell of a track on 'For Your Love.' The whole time I was cutting that it sped up too much, probably my damned idea. That's Joe Jr. Correro on drums. 'For Your Love,' which was supposedly the A-side of that record, was the song that Ronny cared about."

John Fry commented, "We had a good time recording that song."

As fan Frank Bruno pointed out, "You can hear JD screaming, 'For your love' during the middle and end of the song."

"For Your Love" will be on the Memphis Psych compilation that Alec Paleo of Ace Records is putting together to be released soon.

World Boogie is coming!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jim Dickinson- running with the big dogs!

In April, 2011, Memphis Magazine celebrated its thirty-five year milestone with "a lengthy photo essay, one that features thirty-five individuals whose influence, we determined, was critical to the growth and evolution of our city during the period of Memphis magazine existence." Luther, Cody, and I were thrilled to hear that Jim was included in this list of luminaries which included Jack Belz, Steve Cohen, William Eggleston, Kallen Esperian, Shelby Foote, Al Green, Karen Carrier, Henry Turley, J.R. "Pitt" Hyde, Fred Smith, and Justin Timberlake, among others. What an honor for Jim and our family.

Here's what Memphis magazine had to say about Jim:

"When he passed away in 2009, this underground godfather of modern Memphis music was the scene's most colorful commentator. With roots that reached back to jug bands and Sun records, Dickinson came of age in the garage-rock and folk revival '60s, presided over the birth of alternative music with Alex Chilton in the 70s, hung with Dylan and the Stones, did major work during the generally fallow '80s, and sired a promising new generation of Memphis music, both in his family (sons Luther and Cody of the North Mississippi Allstars) and in his home studio (Lucero, Alvin Youngblood Heart, Amy Lavere). He also found time to make some pretty fine records of his own. Dickinson contained multitudes. And he could tell you all about it."

Here's one of my favorite recording of Jim's music- a tribute that Oxford's Thacker Mountain Radio show compiled to honor Jim's work as the leader of their house band, the Yallowbushwhackers.
This is fifty-nine minutes of the most free and joyous arrangements Jim ever recorded. Enjoy!

"World boogie is coming!"

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Can you dig it?

Here's Jim, playing with Luther and Cody, Paul Taylor on bass, and sax man extraordinaire, Jim Spake, rocking out on Beale Street, August, 1999, at the Southern Heritage Festival.

World boogie is coming!

Friday, April 22, 2011

"The Motorcycle Session" - excerpted from Knox Phillips' remarks at the Jim Dickinson Brass Note dedication on Beale St., 4/3/20

A lot of you probably know about our “motorcycle” session. We were doing an album on Dan Penn---if you don’t know who he is, he’s probably the premier---in my mind’s eye---singer-songwriter-producer in the South today, and has been for years and years and years, the greatest voice. Great voice, great writer. Jim was producing an album for him. He produced the best album on Dan that Dan ever did in my mind’s eye.

I talked to Jim that afternoon, we were coming in that night, Jim said, “Dan wrote this song ‘Tiney Hineys and Hogs’”, obviously a motorcycle song. I said, “Jim, great,” and he said, “I want two live motorcycles on the floor running at the session while track is being cut.” I said, ok. So [we got] two ’74 Harley Davidsons into the studio and got them all set up. I mic’ed ‘em, tried to bounce them off a little bit. But I also had these great new red Koss headphones that just came in that day. They put on the headphones, the motorcycle guys did, they cranked up their motorcycles, Gene Chrisman was playing drums. Jim’s idea was to get the motorcycles to idle on the beat.

Now the deal is that in those days motorcycles had carbureators, maybe they still do. There’s an idle screw, you turn the idle up a little bit to increase the speed of the idle, and turn it down to decrease it.

What Jim was trying to do was get the beat and the motorcycles in time. We finally got all that, did a couple of cuts, as the song ended it builds up dynamically. Well, to build the song up dynamically, you have to gun it.

Toward the end of the song they’re gunning the motorcycles. We had to all run out of the room.

I’d shut the door, I’d turn the air conditioner on “suck.” We’d go out to the lobby or the lounge and wait thirty minutes and go back in and do another cut.

The point of that story is that where else but Memphis could that happen and in whose brain but Jim’s could that be invented?

by Glenn Goodman

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Unveiling Jim's Brass Note on Beale Street

On hand for the unveiling of Jim Dickinson's Brass Note on the Beale Street Walk of Fame were his wife, Mary Lindsay Dickinson, sons Cody (on left) and Luther Dickinson and his wife Necha, and their daughter, Lucia.

Speaking to the crowd, Knox Phillips said he was sure that if Jim was there, he would say, "It's about time." Knox praised Jim's "independent and maverick spirit." With the emphasis on "maverick!"

"You couldn't want a better friend or professional colleague," said John Fry, Ardent Studios' Owner.

"We're fortunate he came our way," said U.S. Representative Steve Cohen..

I'm his wife, Mary Lindsay Dickinson, and I said to the crowd, "God is love. Love is eternal. Jim is with God, co-heirs to God's Kingdom with Jesus. Jim loved us then; he loves us now, still, always, and forever." And in the words of John Fry, "If this offends your political correctness, contact me and I'll forgive you."

"I no longer think only of Jim Dickinson as a guy who makes music like no one else, though that's sure enough true. I think of him and the music he makes as something a lot bigger."

-Nick Tosches

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beginnings of the Dickinson Musical Family

"I think of Jim often. I don't think I understood that every time he told a story, it was a parable--a lesson that we needed to hear. The stories were so wonderful, I had no idea I was learning something important--about energy, creativity, or taking care of the artists around you. Those lessons follow me wherever I go."

This comment was made recently by our family friend, Kirt Gunn, who was best friends with Luther when he was three years old and Kirt was seven. Luther is three in the picture above and I'm pregnant with Cody. We are soaking up the music Jim is playing at Ardent Studio.

Friday, March 11, 2011

NMA on NPR's Morning Edition!

When Luther was five years old he came to me with an idea, "Mama, when
daddy has his fiftieth birthday, let's have a big party for him and have
one naked lady jump out of a cake!" Jim and I thought that was a fine idea,
so when he turned fifty we had a big party and two (half-naked) ladies
jumped out of a cake, to the delight of all. Here's a picture of that fine
event held at Sam Phillip's Studio. (Thanks to Knox and Jerry Phillips
and Roland Janes).

Now, Luther is a grown man and his daddy is in heaven, jellyrolling! I'll
bet Jim is grinning just as big up there, proud as punch because North
Mississippi Allstars and their new cd, Keys to the Kingdom, will be
featured on NPR's Weekend Edition, this weekend. Don't miss it! If you missed it, here's the link.

World boogie is coming!

Jellyrollin All Over Heaven

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Jim's still producing.

On February 15, 2011, I did a reading of Jim's memoirs,
Search for Blind Lemon, at the University of North Carolina,
sponsored by the Southern Folklife Collection, Friends of the
Library, the Center for the Study of the American South, the
Department of American Studies, and the Folklore Program.
The multi media presentation featured music, photos, and film,
illustrating Jim's search for "that magic music." It starts with Jim
as a little boy listening to his yard man chop wood and sing, hearing
the great Will Shade and the Memphis Jug band perform in an alley,
learning to play "Bo Diddley" from Bo Diddley, and much more.

The program went well. The audience laughed a lot. I knew Jim
(in absentia) was a success when a man came up to me
after the show and said he went to music school, spent
two semesters in music production, and never had a clue what
it meant until that day, when he heard Jim's words.

Jim's still producing- his favorite way- in his absence.

Bo Diddley-Jim Dickinson by Jim Dickinson's Legacy

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Waiting for the Grammys

Out here in L.A. as a guest of the Memphis Chapter of the
National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, waiting
for the Grammy to be awarded in Best Traditional Folk,
hopefully to ONWARD AND UPWARD, the album Luther
recorded three days after his dad, Jim Dickinson, passed away.
Even if we don't win, the honor really is in being nominated by
his peers for excellence.

ONWARD AND UPWARD was recorded with no effects, straight to
two track tape, first take, with two old RCA microphones,
no mixing, just mastering. It's hard to imagine a more simply
recorded cd, with no thought of profit, career advancement, or gain,
just heartbroken musicians gathered to honor their friend and
father and console themselves with gospel music and love.

Angel Band-Luther Dickinson and the Sons of Mudboy by Jim Dickinson's Legacy

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Power to the People

On January 18,  2011, which was Luther's birthday,  producer Jim
Dickinson was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame.
Luther, Cody and I are thrilled and know that Jim would be honored to
be in the company of soul man Rufus Thomas, rap star David Banner,
MTV founder Bob Pittman, rocker Delaney Bramlett, bluesmen Elmore
James and "Big Joe" Williams, and blues historian, Gayle Dean Wardlow,
among others.  Here's Jim's production of John Lennon's "Power to the
People,"by his band, Mudboy and the Neutrons.

  10 Power To The People by dickinsonfamilyblog

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beale Street Saturday Night

Side 1 from Beale Street Saturday Night by Jim Dickinson's Legacy

In the 1970's, Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. had been
"urban renewed" almost into oblivion.  The deteriorating
Orpheum Theater was standing empty and shuttered,
about to be sold. Beale Street Saturday Night was recorded
as part of a fund raiser to save it.  Now Beale Street
is booming and the Orpheum Theater is restored to its
former gold leaf glory.

Listening to this album brings back Jim's effortless mastery
of the piano and his genius record production. 

World boogie is coming!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

gods of Memphis

"Find the album "Negro Streets at Dawn," by Mudboy and the Neutrons, and play "Money Talks." There the gods of Memphis walk among us, and Jim Dickinson delivers a sermon like the risen Howlin' Wolf, "I want you to reach out, put your hands on the radio. Can you feel it?"  This is where the soul of man puts on its high heel sneakers and shakes like little Ginny."

-Howard Hampton, New York Times, July 25, 2010

  03 Money Talks by Jim Dickinson's Legacy