“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

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Jim always said, "The best songs don't get recorded and the best recordings don't get released."   "Rumble" is a special case, the exception to the rule.  It's a great song recorded in moments of time stolen from other sessions by artist/producer Jim Dickinson and his co-conspirator, Barbarian Record Company owner, Jim Blake. 

"We went to every studio in Memphis and every musician we were working with played on it - the likes of Sid Selvidge, bass player Tommy McClure, Jim Lancaster, Richard Roseborough, Jimmy Crosthwait, Fred Ford, and many others. Lee Baker took a distinctive 'chicken scratching' solo. That's Danny Graflund screaming, 'NEET NEET!'" said Blake.  "We worked for free because we knew it was important.  It took four or five years. We went to Ardent for their orchestra chimes.  A fraternity brother of mine from college was running a car lot/garage behind the original Sun Studio which was run down and empty.   He said we could use the building but there wasn't any electricity.  Someone who shall remain nameless broke the seal on the Memphis utility Light, Gas and Water meter box and turned it upside down.  Presto, electricity.  That was big time illegal.  A topless dancer shook her money maker on the hood of a car because Jim wanted her to."

"Cops patrolled the street and never even noticed us," laughed Dickinson.

On another session, a Memphis motorcycle outlaw named Campbell Kinsinger stole the show.  Jim had him bring his Harley into Dan Penn's studio, Beautiful Sounds, a tiny outback building in Mid-town.  Jim wanted the gleaming silver and black hog to play the song itself, with the deep bass rumble of the growly Harley motor keeping time. To make this happen Campbell whipped out a long screwdriver and retarded the spark of the motor, slowing down the pulsing of the engine until it was playing in sync with the music.  Dickinson described the scene, "By the time the session was over, the air was blue with carbon monoxide and the motorcycle was shooting flames a foot long out of its tail pipes."

The noise at the end of "Rumble" is a recording of the first explosion of the atom bomb.

 "Rumble" reeks of danger.  Kick back, pour yourself a gin, and take a listen.  You ain't heard nuttin' yet.

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