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August 20, 2009

Memorial service held for music man Dickinson >- Desoto Times Tribune

Memorial service held for music man Dickinson

Community Editor
Published: Monday, August 17, 2009 9:43 PM CDT
HERNANDO - A private memorial service was held Monday for James Luther "Jim" Dickinson, an American record producer, pianist, and singer who collaborated with legendary artists and groups like Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones.

Dickinson died Saturday at Methodist Extended Care Hospital in Memphis following triple bypass heart surgery. He was 67.

Hernando Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements.

Dickinson was the father and musical mentor to sons Cody and Luther Dickinson, front men for the Grammy-nominated group, the North Mississippi Allstars. He and his wife, Mary Lindsay Dickinson, lived south of Hernando near Coldwater, residing at his rural home and recording studio known as the Zebra Ranch.

Dickinson's death came after three months of heart and intestinal bleeding problems.

Dickinson moved to Memphis at an early age. After attending school at Baylor University, he returned to Memphis and played on recording sessions for Bill Justis, and at Chips Moman's American Studios. Dickinson recorded what has been called the last great record on the Sun label, "Cadillac Man" 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 for Aretha Franklin's 1970 "Spirit in the Dark." In 1971, Dickinson also played piano on The Rolling Stones' hit "Wild Horses" and on The Flamin Groovies' track "Teenage Head." In 1972 Dickinson released his first solo album, "Dixie Fried," which was a mixture of songs by Bob Dylan, Carl Perkins and Furry Lewis.

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, The Replacements, Tav Falco's "Panther Burns," and Screamin' Jay Hawkins, 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 with Dylan. In 1998, he produced Mudhoney's, "Tomorrow's 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.

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 Jake Vest, Toby Vest, and Adam Hill. While the band disbanded in October 2008, the members did complete two full albums, slated for a November 2009 release; though Dickinson's cardiac issues, which started in May of 2009, set back that release date.

Robert Lee Long: rlong@desototimestribune.com
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