Legendary musician-producer James Luther "Jim" Dickinson died Saturday morning while recuperating from heart surgery. Among numerous other accomplishments, Dickinson was the father of Luther and Cody Dickinson, two-thirds of HeadCount partners the North Mississippi Allstars. Dickinson's band the Dixie Flyers supported Aretha Franklin and numerous other Atlantic Records artists four decades ago, and that's his piano playing you hear on the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses." His production highlights include Big Star, Alex Chilton, Willy DeVille, Green on Red, Mojo Nixon, the Replacements, Tav Falco's Panther Burns, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins.
Here's what Ry Cooder had to say about the man in his liner notes to Dickinson's Jungle Jim and the Voodoo Tiger: "It is 2006, light years away from the time of Gus Cannon, Deford Bailey, and Emmett Miller. The culture of the country has been hijacked by life-style hotshot pimps who join with consumer fascists in selling you back to yourself. Who can you trust? Nobody, in the immortal words of Bert Williams. Who will sing for you, the question posed by Carter Stanley, gone to his reward, unable to answer.
But there is someone, a knowing man, even a man of American family values, who raised his two boys in the sacred code of right and wrong, American-style: Jim Dickinson, son of a delta match salesman, a code-talker, a personal friend of mine. Take a seat, listen in, find your place."