Jim Dickinson moved to Memphis, Tennessee at an early age. After attending school at Baylor University, he returned to Memphis and played onrecording sessions for Bill Justis, and at Chips Moman‘s American Studios. Dickinson recorded what has been called the last great record on the Sunlabel, “Cadillac Man” b/w “My Babe” by the Jesters, playing piano and singing lead on both sides, even though he was not an actual member of the group. In the late 1960s, Dickinson joined with fellow Memphis musicians Charlie Freeman, Michael Utley, Tommy McClure and Sammy Creason; this group became known as the “Dixie Flyers” and provided backup for musicians recording for Atlantic Records. Perhaps their best-known work was forAretha Franklin‘s 1970 Spirit in the Dark. In December 1969, Dickinson played piano on The Rolling Stones‘ track “Wild Horses” at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama, although it wasn’t released until 1971, and in that year on Flamin’ Groovies‘ album Teenage Head. In 1972 Dickinson released his first solo album, “Dixie Fried”, which featured songs by Bob Dylan, Furry Lewis, and the title song by Carl Perkins.
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 has produced Willy DeVille, Green on Red, Mojo Nixon, Neon Wheels, Jason & The Nashville Scorchers,The Replacements, Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and The Dick Nixons, among many others, 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. He has also worked with Ry Cooder, and played on Dylan’s album Time Out of Mind. In 1998, he produced Mudhoney‘s, Tomorrow Hit Today.
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 consists entirely of covers of 60′s Memphis Garage Rock songs.
Dickinson died August 15, 2009 at Methodist Extended Care Hospital in Memphis following triple bypass heart surgery.
- 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)
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)