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the pioneer of Dylan Studies; writer, public speaker, critic; became a Doctor of Letters in 2015 (awarded by the University of York, UK)

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Sunday, August 16, 2009


The great Jim Dickinson died yesterday (Saturday 15 August), aged 67. A properly music-based report is here.

And as it says in The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia (p.481) Dickinson said he'd been a Dylan fan for 35 years before he got to play on a Dylan record, namely Time Out Of Mind, on which he played piano, Wurlitzer electric piano and pump organ, appearing on every track except 'Standing In The Doorway', 'Cold Irons Bound' and 'Make You Feel My Lurve'. And according to Daniel Lanois (Harp Magazine, May 2003), Bob said to him,"If you've got Dickinson, you don't need anybody else."

Jim Dickinson was also the first to point out that the cover of Together Through Life uses the same shot as Big Bad Love, a book of short stories by Mississippi writer Larry Brown, of whose work Dylan told Dickinson he had "read every word". (Dickinson was also a friend of the splendid Georgia-based writer Stanley Booth, whose collection Rythm Oil is tremendous. And both men knew and helped Furry Lewis and Sleepy John Estes back in Memphis...)

I note that Jim Dickinson died on the 25th anniversary of the death of Norman Petty, a crucial figure in the studio for another white southern blues/country/rock crossover artist, the late great Buddy Holly.


Anonymous Paul Duane said...

Dickinson is a great, great loss, not only for his music and his ability to produce great results in the studio from difficult or drug-addled musicians, but for his extraordinary fund of anecdote - I wish I could retell his story, told to him by an angry Ry Cooder, about how Bob Dylan stalked Cooder for months asking him for advice on how to play one particular Sleepy John Estes lick, but I'm afraid I was laughing too hard to remember all the crucial and hilarious details. He was a truly great man.

11:22 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's only one Sally Bowles.

I'm not sure if the whole leotard-and-bowler-hat get-up would suit you.


12:53 pm  
Anonymous McHenry Boatride said...

Glad to hear you're bringing culture to France in the form of bagpipes, Michael. Not too sure about the tribute show though - I think I'll give that one a miss.

Have you thought about a Danny La Rue version of Cate Blanchett's Dylan instead?

9:47 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

Actually there isn't only one Sally Bowles. Another Sally Bowles, for instance, is former head of the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation and joined the Charles and Helen Schwab Foundation's board of directors in September 2001.

But I agree it's never going to work as well as Elvis imitating Jackie Wilson imitating Elvis (as heard on the Million Dollar Quartet recordings).

11:30 pm  
Blogger Michael Gray said...

For a TREMENDOUS tribute to Jim Dickinson, see Chuck Prophet's blog here:

(I'm grateful to Chuck fan Rainer Vesely for directing me to this.)

10:24 pm  

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