Listening to Jimmie Spheeris

One of the Princess’ favourite bands is Joy Division, a band that ceased to exist fully 10 years before she was born.  Even though I was living in Manchester during their brief but glorious heyday, even though I saw them play at least a dozen times, even though I knew Bernard Sumner well enough to stand at the bar in the Russell Club and have a pint with him, even though I was in the BBC studios on Oxford Road when they recorded that extraordinary version of ‘Transmission‘ for ‘Something Else’ or whatever the show was called…… despite all this, she has told me stuff about Joy Division that I never knew anything about at all.  Somehow, this spooks me just a little.

You would be entitled to ask, of course, what the hell this has got to do with Jimmie Spheeris, a California-based singer-songwriter who died quite tragically back in 1984 and was probably as unaware of Joy Division as they were of him.  The point of course, is the extraordinary power of the internet to act as a focal point for fans; a place where they can gather and post their stories and their concert pictures and bootleg recordings and all the memorabilia of fandom.  This is where the stories – real, imagined,apocryphal – get lodged in the collective psyche and become a narrative and almost mythical subtext to all the ‘official’ versions.   

Joy Division have, of course been pretty well served by such mythical subtexts and by the mechanisms of posthumous marketing.  There have been books -some of them of the doorstop ‘coffee table’ variety, there have been extensive issues and re-issues of existing recordings and previously unreleased recordings, there has been an enduring interest in Peter Savile’s iconic design work, there have been 2 feature length films, one of them Grant Gee’s excellent ‘Joy Division’ documentary, one Anton Corbijn’s fictionalised but equally excellent ‘Control’.  All of this stuff has been sifted and measured and evaluated by the online Joy Divison fanbase; a process that will no doubt continue more or less indefinitely.

For the late Jimmie Spheeris, it’s a similar story in some respects, yet with a radically different set of outcomes.  Born in Oklahoma in 1949,  Jimmie was brother to film-maker Penelope, cousin to musician Chris and was also apparently somehow related through his Greek origins to the movie director Costa-Gavras.  His family background was in the fairground/’carney’ trade and after his father was murdered by a ‘belligerent carnival-goer’, his mother relocated the family to California, eventually settling in Venice, in suburban Los Angeles.   Once grown, Jimmie moved to New York City in the late 1960’s in an attempt to break into the music scene.  At one point he apparently shared an apartment with the late Laura Nyro.

His break came when his friend Richie Havens introduced him to Clive Davis, at that point Head of A&R for Columbia Records.  Davis signed him to a four-album contract and the first of his albums – ‘Isle of View‘ – appeared in 1971.  Recorded in New York and Los Angeles with a band of largely unknown musicians, it got quite a lot of radio play in the States and was even released in the U.K. in 1972, but sank without trace here.  The lyrics were, I suppose, of their time – poetic flights of fancy, filled with images of birds flyin’ free or swooping down, of mountains and trees and rain and the seashore and perhaps more than anything else a set of intensely sensual reflections on love and its ‘many-splendoured things’ – not sure how many Spheeris fans knew at this point that he was openly gay.  Spheeris’ distinctive voice could soar across octaves, as on the standout ‘I am the mercury’, but the overall mood was of hushed intimacy, with acoustic guitar, flute and strings evoking a variety of moods; most of them in harmony with the hippie ethos of the times.

Jimmie Spheeris- early Columbia promo shot

In a way, that was the problem for Jimmie Spheeris and a host of other talented early 70’s American singer-songwriters, all surfing on the coat-tails of the success achieved by the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joni Mitchell or Simon & Garfunkel.  The market was awash with sensitive long-haired minstrels crooning gentle odes to their ‘old ladies’ and a substantial number of ‘old ladies’ returning the compliment.  A lot of this stuff was woeful rubbish, but some of it was really good and there’s little doubt that the music of Jimmie Spheeris had a magic all of its own.  It’s something that each of his first four albums all possess to a greater or lesser extent. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Spheeris worked largely within the parameters of what would usually be described as folk music, without sliding into country-rock or pop clichés.  Spheeris’ best songs tend to be introspective reflections on love and life; when he did step out with some more up-tempo rockers, or novelty numbers like the title track from his second album – ‘The Original Tap-Dancing Kid’, released in 1973 – the results were often a lot less compelling. 

The second album was produced by former Rascals frontman Felix Cavaliere and featured a crew of seasoned Los Angeles sessioneers like Russ Kunkel, Leland Sklar and Bobbye Hall.  Whilst it consolidated the achievements of ‘Isle of View’, it didn’t really move things along too much, getting lost among all the other ‘soft-rock’ albums of the day and sold only modestly.  Jimmie Spheeris’ response was to take his music out on the road and he embarked on an 18-month period of touring with a band of close associates, such as bassist Johnny Pierce, guitarist Geoff Levin, drummer Bart Hall and keyboard/reeds player Jim Cowger.  During this era, he would play support to a plethora of different acts – some more ‘sympathetic’ to his music than others.

By the time Spheeris released his third album – ‘The Dragon is Dancing’ – in 1975, his band were a battle-hardened force to be reckoned with.  Jimmie had hooked up with producer Henry Lewy, who had worked extensively with Joni Mitchell and  for ‘Dragon’ Lewy was shrewd enough to retain the core unit of the road band, adding other guests on an ad hoc basis.  One of these guests was Chick Corea, who played synthesiser on the album’s atmospheric title track.  Whilst it might seem a little odd that an A-List jazz fusioneer would crop up on such an album, the reason is probably that by this point, Jimmie Spheeris had begun to flirt with Scientology, of which Corea is a high-profile aficionado.  Corea brought ace bassist Stanley Clarke (another Scientologist and Return to Forever member) along with him for the next Spheeris album  ‘Ports of the Heart’, recorded the following year.  Both ‘Dragon‘ and ‘Ports’ represented a quantum leap from the intimate ‘folky’ style of the first 2 albums.  Strings were again used judiciously, but these were rock albums, pure and simple, often with fantastic, imaginative arrangements and excellent musicianship.  Eighteen months of slog around the States had taught Jimmie and his band how to get the best out of one another.  Add to this a particularly strong batch of songs on ‘Dragon’ and some interesting cover versions on ‘Ports’ and it was clear that Jimmie Spheeris had escaped from the ‘hippie folk ghetto’ and was on the way to somewhere far more interesting……..all of which makes it all the more frustrating that he seemed to have simply moved next door into the ‘cult artist ghetto’ instead.

By 1976, when ‘Ports of the Heart’ was released, there were major changes afoot in the world of rock music.  Whilst the punk revolution was no more than a distant cloud on the hippie horizons of Southern California, things were nonetheless changing.  The Eagles had transformed their open road country-rock into a highly-formalised pop-rock monster and Fleetwood Mac had come back from nowhere to take the airwaves by storm.  What Jimmie Spheeris was doing was somehow too fragile and left-field to break out to a wider audience.  By now Spheeris numbered Jackson Browne among his buddies – Browne sang backup vocals on ‘Ports’ – and whilst their lyrical concerns weren’t a million miles apart, Browne’s lyrics were somehow more rooted in the minutiae of everyday life and the hard compromises now afflicting those who had espoused the hippie dream.  Jimmie Spheeris, meanwhile, still had his head to the skies, was lost in the mystical ‘otherness’ of the universe and his lyrics still reflected this.   In this newer, harsher ‘Hotel California’ world, brute economics took over; Browne went on to stardom, whilst Columbia dropped Jimmie Spheeris from their roster. 

As far as Spheeris’ career as a recording artist was concerned, there’s not much else to tell.  If he did much recording between 1977 and his death in 1984, little has survived except for one final album (‘Spheeris‘), which he finished on the night that he died.  Riding his motorbike home through Santa Monica at 2 am on the morning of 4 July, 1984, Jimmie Spheeris had the misfortune to meet a drunk driving a van travelling in his direction.  He did not survive the collision.  It was to be sixteen years before ‘Spheeris‘ saw the light of day.

During those sixteen years, the world had moved on in many ways; not all of them that positive.  In terms of the record business, we were now listening to small shiny silver discs as opposed to larger black plastic discs.  Punk had been and gone, leaving its claw-marks on the body politic and the thing we’d usually referred to as ‘rock & roll’ had morphed into a huge number of variants, from the frontiers of jazz to the retro stylings of rockabilly – and everything else inbetween.

The internet was already muscling in on the hegemony of the big record companies; bootleg tapes and CDR’s were being openly traded and the moguls of yesteryear were starting to lose their grip on what and who we listened to – a process that has only accelerated in the intervening 11 years.

Fans were starting to use the internet to share their enthusiasms for this or that band – fan websites were being set up and blogs were just around the corner.  Jimmie Spheeris fans were still out there and starting to pester Sony (Columbia/Epic’s new owners) to give CD re-releases to the Jimmie Spheeris albums in their vaults as their treasured vinyl copies became ever more battered and scratched.  No dice.  Spheeris just wasn’t a hot enough proposition in economic terms.  On the internet,  Spheeris fan Andy Markley started up a Memorial Gallery and  ‘Anybody remember Jimmie Spheeris?’ site and was amazed by the response he got.  One person who broke cover at this point was Jimmie’s former bassist Johnny Pierce and together with some finance and the efforts of numerous enthusiasts, Rain Records was set up as a Sony Special Projects enterprise with Pierce as CEO.  Its remit was to function solely as an outlet for existing and ‘new’ Spheeris recordings.  An examination of the 4 sets of master tapes in the Sony vaults revealed that if the Spheeris albums were to be rescued and released on CD, something would have to be done at once as the tapes were de-oxidising at a rate of knots. 

Sony drove a hard bargain.  Rain Records had to pay them upfront for the manufacture of the CD’s at Sony’s own plants.  Pierce took out a second mortgage on his house to cover this and many other costs.  However, by 1998, all four of the original Columbia/Epic releases were out on CD and it was my good fortune to visit New York City the following year, where I was able to snaffle up copies at Virgin’s shop on Union Square.  Even better, Rain had finally put out the ‘Spheeris’ album from 1984 and had put together a double CD entitled ‘An Evening with Jimmie Spheeris’ recorded at a club in Connecticut in 1976. 

Jimmie Spheeris on stage in 1977

The ‘Spheeris‘ album is – frankly – a bit of a curate’s egg.  There are a couple of good tracks – ‘Three in Venice’ and ‘Jungle Sweep’, for example – but by and large, it just doesn’t measure up to its predecessors.  The live album, however, is terrific, despite the ubiquitous hooting and ‘wooooooooo – ing’ that is probably the worst feature of American audiences.  Sometimes the delicacy of Spheeris’ songs gets lost in all the drunken ballyhoo of a smallish club gig, but enough of the real stuff gets through to make ‘An Evening with’ an invaluable addition to a painfully small catalogue.

‘Labour of Love’ is an overused phrase, but it’s one that’s definitely applicable to what Johnny Pierce and Andy Markley called ‘The Preservation Project’.  Together with a number of dedicated activists, they had managed to bring the music of Jimmie Spheeris to a new generation whilst making thousands of existing fans very happy.  It should have been an enduring monument to fan power; sadly, it wasn’t to last.

In the USA, the Rain CD’s were distributed by K-Tel, a name that will inspire mixed feelings among British readers of a certain age.  In the early 1970’s, K-Tel were active here in releasing a series of ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’-type packages of hits on vinyl in gaudy covers and with little discernible quality control.  In 3 words, they were cheap, re-packaged crap.

With such a reputation, what happened with K-Tel in the States  shouldn’t come as a surprise.  On 19 March, 2001, K-Tel International filed for bankruptcy.  They did so owing Rain a substantial sum of money and holding all but a handful of the inventory of Rain’s Spheeris CD’s in their warehouses.   This stock was, of course, immediately ‘impounded’ by whoever it is that deals with such matters….the Brain Police, the Mysterons…who the hell knows?

As a consequence of the K-Tel bankruptcy, Sony were quick to jump on the bandwagon.  From 7 April, 2001, Rain were prohibited from distributing the Spheeris CD’s that they had paid for upfront and the licencing agreement they had with Sony was cancelled.

So, to sum up, Rain were now prohibited from manufacturing and selling Jimmie Spheeris CD’s, even though they had paid for the existing stock upfront.  However, this was moot, as the K-Tel bankruptcy meant that said stock was now in the hands of the lawyers.  Not a happy story and I am unable to tell you that either the remaining stock or the funds owing ever found their way back to Messrs Markley and Pierce.  To make matters worse, Johnny Pierce died from cancer in 2005.

Since then, rather bizarrely, a ‘twofer’ CD that brings together ‘Isle of View’ and ‘The Original Tap-Dancing Kid’ seems to have emerged on British re-issue label BGO. Most recently – and this was what inspired this elongated post – Texas band Midlake have included a track from ‘Isle of View’ on their recent ‘Late Night Tales’  compilation.  Midlaker Tim Smith has described ‘Isle of View’ as his all-time favourite album.

For all this, it’s unlikely, I would guess, that Jimmie Spheeris is going to acquire the same kind of posthumous reputation accorded to – for example – Nick Drake.  Even so, the fans of Jimmie Spheeris, and, in particular Andy Markley and Johnny Pierce deserve enormous credit for what they did manage to achieve.  By comparison, being a Joy Division ‘internet archaeologist’ is a stroll down Easy Street.

28 responses to “Listening to Jimmie Spheeris

  1. Janene Redfield

    I was so excited when I heard that Jimmie Spheeris records were being sold again through Rain Records. I relished rediscovering his music so much so, I had decided to spread out buying them so I had the next one to look forward too. I bought The Original Tap Dancing Kid, Isle of View and The Dragon is Dancing, waiting for Ports of the Heart. Suddenly, Rain was shut down and those people who so OBVIOUSLY loved him and his music and the memories, like me, weren’t able to do anything more. I love Jimmie Spheeris, went to see him every time he was in Kansas City. He threw his birthday cake out to the audience once and some landed on my coat which I would never allow my mother to wash off! Thank you for writing this article and keeping his spirit alive.

  2. Hi Janene,

    Thanks for your comments. Always happy to spread the word about JS. If only one person checks his music out as a result of reading this post, it will all have been worthwhile!

  3. On the 27th anniversary of his death, I thank you for a lovely article. I had the good fortune to meet him as my idol and then know him as my friend. Pierce and Markley have done right by him. Have a happy 4th and again, thanks for honoring Jimmie!

  4. I managed a record store in Tulsa in 1974 and “Isle of View” was my favorite lp. I had the spectacular cover silk screened in color on the whole front of 2 t-shirts with my name at the bottom in small print and that of my best friend. We sang, harmonized and played the great tracks off that lp for many, many occasions. Devestated by the loss; got all the cd’s before they were gone. So lucky.

    • Thanks David – and sorry about the delay in replying but I’ve been away as you may have gathered. From the few replies I’ve had to this post, what comes through very strongly is how passionate people are about JS’s music. Makes me wish more people had appreciated him when he was alive….

  5. i am still passionately,a huge,huge Kimmie Spheeris ‘fan’, and ,after waring out,the vinyl copies,(“dragon” crackled ,like mad, i recall!!!)..i was DELIGHTED ,to be able to procure ALL of jimmie’s ‘master-pieces’,on cd!!!!!i have NEVER hears ainger-songwriter compose such MOVING songs,that mr.Spheeris did!!all 5 albums arer quintissential,i must say, although ,i feel his finest peak ,was “Ports of the Heart”!!!my all-time FAVOURITE song album…and Jimmie’s vocals,were REALLY something else..who EVER sang,like THAT!!!??Awesome talent, i saw him ,live,on a Moody blues tour,early 80’s .incredible performance ..i NEVER got to meet him,though!!the world,my world,is a MUCH better place,for having his wonDERful songs ,to play and hear!!!his cd’s take FIRST place,in my entire collection..alWAYS will!!!!so sad,he was drawn into that ‘scientology’ nonsense.for such a beautiful person,as he,gay or not,his songs are forever TREASURED ,in my heart of hearts!!!!..”what you touched INSIDE of me(Jimmie).,NObody else ,EVER WILL”!!!!!!!!

  6. I dont care if he was gay, I just thought he was a fellow hippie. His albums could get my girl friends or one night stands like no other. Have downloaded his albums as MP3 on Amazon. Brings me back to a special time in my life, good friends, good times and the best music ever. Cant wait to turn my kids onto him.

  7. Such a bittersweet story, and beautifully captured in this blog entry, if I may say so.
    I “met” (only ever via email) Johnny Pierce when on a whim I googled Jimmie’s name, and discovered that Rain Records had just released Isle of View on cd. I was thrilled, as I had been searching for the album for a long time. This was before almost everyone sold their vinyl – if I’d carried on looking I might have been lucky eventually, but as it was I was able to buy each of the cds as they were released, and fortunately was prompted by some impulse to buy two copies of the live album.
    When things started to go wrong for Rain, there was a small outpouring of generosity from the fans, and I auctioned my spare copy of the live album. If I recall correctly it was bought by a lovely Canadian man for about 100 US dollars. I don’t know how much was raised eventually, but I do know that Johnnie didn’t lose Cedar House, his recording studio, as he had greatly feared that he might, because the last I heard his daughter (and possibly also his son, not sure about that) was running it. I hope that this means he also did not lose his house, because if I had to vote for someone who deserved that sort of fate, Johnny would be pretty near the bottom of my list.
    These people brought JImmie’s music back to life and gave it to a whole new generation of music lovers. The Rain Records experience was one of the most uplifting of my life, notwithstanding the fact that I live on the other side of the world from Messrs Spheeris, Pierce and Markley. For that, I will always be grateful.

    • Thanks for your post and your kind words, Cathy. I can only hope that the ‘good news’ you offer about Johnny Pierce’s recording studio is actually true. As you say, it would seem particularly harsh for him and his family to have suffered in this way. I keep waiting for someone with some real influence to ‘rediscover’ and promote Jimmie Spheeris’ music – look at how Nick Drake’s legacy has been re-evaluated with such positive results over the last 20 years. It seems to me that Jimmie Spheeris is an equally deserving cause. Here’s hoping it happens someday…..

  8. In 1972, a small hippie commune, nestled in on the shores of lake superior, living in the rugged, tree lined, snow covered Upper Peninsula of Michigan, discovered the music of Jimmie Spheeris. Isle of View was the album that played constantly why we feed the wood stove and shoveled the roof of 3 feet of snow.

    With some of us involved in music promotions we were able to arrange for Jimmie to be the opening act with B.B. King. Quite a unusual mix of music but we loved his music so much we were just overjoyed that he was to perform in our small town, Marquette, MI.

    And of course he killed it. With most of the crowd there to hear him he was totally caught off guard how much we knew and loved his music. We cheered and yelled for every song and Jimmie played them all with a smile on his face. At first you could see him asking himself, “Who are these people”, but then he realized we were his biggest fans and just went on and played beautifully. We asked and demanded for 2 encores that night and he gave them to us. He even said, “I’m not sure what to play” and we just yelled out songs names. Despite having already heard the song during the concert, we did not care. And later Jimmie came out and sat with us during the B.B. King performance. And of course B.B. was also stunned by the huge ovation he got in this small community in the middle of this remote but spectacular area.

    After the concert we invited Jimmy and BB King and crew back to our house for a big spaghetti dinner and wine party. Even back then Jimmy would not eat meat and so we made a special meal for him. And then later in the evening it started to snow, the only was it can in the UP. An inch an hour. Jimmie was just riveted by the purity and amount of fresh snow that was falling on the shores of Mother Superior.

    So around midnight a snowball fight began outside the house. About 20 of us throwing, running, chasing each other. Having the time of our lives. We were kids that night! Later the fight moved to inside the house and it turned into a classic snow ball tussle.

    I will never forget that night. We laughed so hard we ALL had tears in our eyes. And when Jimmy left he thanked us all for one of the best nights of his life.

    That’s my Jimmy Spheeris experience and it will stay with me forever.

  9. There also is a Facebook page dedicated to keeping the flame alive “JImmie Spheeris Lives On”. Thanks for this great article!

  10. Dear agentcoop,

    A fan at the “Jimmie Spheeris Lives On” Facebook page posted your link … first time I’d seen it. Thank you very much for what is easily the best overview of Jimmie’s career I’ve ever read.

    First things first, before I forget: I’d like to link to your article on the Memorial Gallery. If that’s OK, I’ll build a new page with links, pics, and relevant quotes. I’m thinking of adding it to the “More Stories & Your Letters” page … or maybe the “Links” page at

    OK. For what they’re worth, here are my comments.

    I can absolutely confirm that “At one point he apparently shared an apartment with the late Laura Nyro.” Jimmie spoke of Laura often with yours truly. They were good pals who shared a New York apartment, a mutual appreciation of each other’s work, and an understanding of the corporate music machine.

    “By the time Spheeris released his third album – ‘The Dragon is Dancing’ – in 1975, his band were a battle-hardened force to be reckoned with.” This might be my favorite quote from your article. I could waste gigabytes of your bandwidth with stories Jimmie shared with me about those times.

    “Spheeris just wasn’t a hot enough proposition in economic terms.” Yup. No voting about that fact. Johnny and I decided to slog along anyway, in the face of certain defeat.

    After Johnny died, I just couldn’t fight any more. The wind was knocked out of my sails. Whatever. It isn’t a total loss. I’m glad that Jimmie’s work lives on for his fans and a new generation of awakened listeners.

    “The ‘Spheeris’ album is – frankly – a bit of a curate’s egg. There are a couple of good tracks – ‘Three in Venice’ and ‘Jungle Sweep’, for example – but by and large, it just doesn’t measure up to its predecessors.

    Hmmm … oh, m’dear agentcoop. I must quibble with you about your critique of “Spheeris” … Jimmie’s final album. Please consider giving it another listen. In particular, check out “You must be laughing somewhere” … … produced by our longtime friend, the late great Paul Delph.

    Andy Markley
    aka ‘Andy M’ ‘Auntie Em’

  11. Was fortunate to see Jimmie several times. His early performances here were solo and they are among my favorite memories. I can remember Danny Cox (another unsung local legend), opening up for him on at least one occasion and Leo Kottke on another. Those with better recall than I can check me on this but seems like I remember Jimmie (as a solo act) opening for Brewer and Shipley and The Dirt Band and later on the Isles of View tour Brewer and Shipley opening for him. Despite the hootin’ and hollerin’ , as mentioned, Jimmie was always a class act. You could always expect to be entertained by a top notch musician(s) when Jimmie came to town. I always considered Isles of View one of the best made albums in my entire , vast and varied collection. I still regret selling my vinyl copy if for the jacket art alone. Bought the cd as soon as I learned it came out (think it’s an early pressing). Bought Tap Dancing Kid to replace my vinyl and Dragon (which I never owned on vinyl), and then sold them and bought the Live at the Uptown (which I always thought was recorded in Kansas City not Connecticut); and then sold it. I did however make cassette recordings of all before I sold them ; at least I’d keep the music. The “Isles of View” cd ; they will have to pry from my icy dead fingers when I pass. Much is often made of stars who pass early or before they hit it big but I prefer to think that they were here for their time and gave us their best. The path to super stardom is littered with individuals and groups who’s work actually deteriorated once they made it to that “hit is big’ stage. There best was behind them. Hitting it big also entails a certain giving up to the corporate machine ; “Selling out” as us old hippies used to call it. It’s been my fortunate experience to have enjoyed several artist in that ‘hippie folk ghetto’ (underground) period, before they became rich and famous many of whom’s careers were thoroughly ruined by the corporate meddling that goes with success in the ‘music business’ (all well documented). If you didn’t know Jimmie was gay before you certainly began to suspect when he got rid of the blue jeans and doffed the sparkly gold spandex bell bottom (jumpsuit ?) and platform shoes for the “Dragon is Dancing” tour. While all that was interesting in it’s own way it didn’t hold a candle to the Isles of View days and I would have been just as happy had he continued to ‘plod along’ in that old “hippie folk ghetto” vein. Of course I understand having to go in the direction your art takes you, artistic licence , the need to expand and explore etc………The point is; once you’ve created a work of perfection: “Isles of View”, “Electric Lady Land” , “Sgt Pepper” ; it must be tough to figure out where to go from there (albeit ; Zeppelin was pretty consistent in that endeavor (at least 5 in a row ; not bad)). But, that’s all beside the point. Jimmie Spheeris was an incredible and rare talent with a totally unique voice, song writing ability and musicianship. With all that in one package it’s a mysterious wonder as to why every album he made wasn’t an “Isles of View”. Having said that ; having only the one makes it even that much more a valued cherishable.

  12. Jimmie was one of a kind. Thank you for such a well-written article on a great artist. And I can’t say enough about Andy Markley and Johhny Pierce (rest his soul). Without their painstaking and selfless efforts to preserve Jimmie’s music, those master tapes would have disintegrated and been lost forever. Johnny went to amazing lengths to remaster those recordings and make them available on CD, and Andy (Hi Andy M!!) has done so much to keep the flame alive for Jimmie through web and other media. Thank you!!

    • Thanks Ron for your comments. Recently the JS Facebook thread has come up with evidence of recordings he made for Warners in the late 70’s so I guess we are all finding out new stuff about him all the time. Can only echo your sentiments about the late Johnny Pierce and Andy Markley.

  13. A fabulous article and great comments. I discovered Jimmie Spheeris about 5 years ago when I bought the first of the BGO twofers, and have since managed to track down ‘Spheeris’ and finally ‘An Evening With’. Wonderful stuff and I take my hat off to the people who fought to preserve his legacy. I must say, what I like most about Jimmie’s music, quite apart from the sheer quality, was they way he evolved. His early ‘hippy’ stuff, through his mid-seventies period to the almost Marc Almond-esque ‘Spheeris’, I love it all. Wonderful stuff. Thanks again for the article and comments.

  14. The new comments just popped into my feed — made my day. Thanks and kudos to Lord Wobbly and Agent Coop for helping to keep the flame burning. I’m working a major facelift on the Jimmie memorial site as time permits. It will take some time to finish, but you’re welcome to view a little sneak peek at the design direction. You can also download and print a freebie vintage poster from the archives. Thanks again.

  15. Thank you for this article. I discovered Jimmie about six years ago while going through a time of great change and loss. Our local record store had a row of dollar bin albums and each pay day I would buy ten albums, mostly oddities and unknowns that appealed to me based only on what I could glean from examining the covers, instruments, lyrics, etc. The lyrics on the back of Isle of View immediately arrested my attention and I couldn’t wait to get home and try the album. I was spellbound by the whole thing and still am to this day. It always relaxes and calms me down. I have Ports and Dragon as well but Isle is definitely a contender among three or four albums for my all time favorite. Really great article.

  16. Hi agentcoop. Justin’s post popped into my feed yesterday morning. Thanks, Justin. I love revisiting this blog and reading the comments.

    The all new, mobile friendly version of Jimmie’s site is almost ready to go public. I’ll drop you a line when it’s done.

    Meanwhile, an update about cover art restoration for Jimmie’s Rain/Sony CD catalog is available at my site if you’re interested:

    This is one of my all time favorite projects as the decades melt away. I think of Jimmie every day — and Johnny Pierce — with love and respect.

    I still hope to help legally release songs from the dozens of demo tapes Jimmie gave me through the years (digitally restored to remove tape hiss and expand the dynamic range)… a treasure trove of unheard music. There’s enough material here for at least 2 “new” Jimmie albums.

    Thanks again for keeping the flame burning. All the best to you and yours.

  17. Thanks Andy for keeping the pot simmering.
    Look forward to hearing the ‘new’ stuff when it emerges. Keep me posted.
    All the best.

  18. I believe there is one of those late Friday night music shows,(Midnight Special?) that Jimmie performed with his Band, almost the entire show.This would have been around 1976? I watched all I could in a crowded noisy bar,totally mesmerized! The next day I went out and bought every Jimmie Spheeris album I could lay my hands on! Incredibly charismatic performer! What a find if that Friday night performance would resurface! Did anyone else see that program?

  19. The man never really got credit for just how damn good he was…if you ever saw him live…you would never forget his music…ever.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s