|Jimmy Evans, The Joint's Still Jumpin'
Jimmy Evans just had to be a rockabilly singer. Born in 1936 in Marianna, Arkansas which is not that far from Memphis, Tennessee, where the blues would be wailing over the airwaves and across to waters of the Mississippi to where all those young Arkansas boys like Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Rich, Sonny Burgess (etc.) were all soaking it up ready to make their own mark in the music business. Jimmy's family all played instruments too, so he had the right raising and when young Jimmy began to shine as a singer and musician his aunt got him an audition at Sun Records. Sam Phillips thought Jimmy was too young and his voice too high and told him to finish his education and come back later. Jimmy did so and impressed with his musical abilities, Sam started Jimmy working sessions, mostly audition tapes with whoever stepped in off the street. "I remember working with Jimmy Wilson ,he played piano on "Flying Saucer Rock'n'Roll" with Billy Riley, on Bill Justis' "Raunchy" and Johnny Cash's "Ballad Of A Teenage Queen." The two Jimmy's became friends and shared an apartment over the Sun Café. Jimmy played some sessions with Charlie Rich too. He knew Mack Self and probably his most famous session at Sun was singing the high tenor on Mack's "Mad At You" as well as playing upright bass.
Jimmy also played on some of the demos Conway Twitty put down at Sun. Jimmy knew Conway's girlfriend Micki from school and through her found out that Conway (or Harold Jenkins as he was then) was putting a band together. Conway had already taken Jimmy Ray Paulman as lead guitar and as he knew Jimmy well it all came together. They started playing up in Canada and in the US and Jimmy played bass on Conways first Mercury session and wrote the B-side of "Double Talking Baby" a song called "Why Can't I Get Through To You." Jimmy was still hoping Sam Phillips would put out a single on him but as Sam was concentrating on his rockabilly acts. Jimmy, who had been singing country, wrote his own rockabilly song "The Joint's Really Jumping" and on the advice of Gene Simmons took the song over to Clearmont Records and he cut it using Carl Simmons (Gene's brother) on guitar, Jimmy Wilson on piano and Jesse Carter on bass. Jimmy wanted to get his solo career going but had to pay his bills too so when Jimy Ray Paulman joined Ronnie Hawkins and they asked Jimmy to go up to Canada with them, he did so staying with the Hawk for just over two years. He recorded with Ronnie on most of the songs from Ronnie's first two Roulette albums playing bass and he wrote "Hayride" for Ronnie.
After his time with Romping Ronnie, Jimmy went back into the studio to cut "Messy Bessy" a song very much in the Hawkins style. The song was recorded at Fernwood studios and came out on Shimmy Records who had a pretty good distribution deal which meant that Jimmy finally made the charts himself. While living in Texas some years later Jimmy teamed up with Jimmy Ray Paulman again to write "Memphis 55" which kinda tells the story of those long off days. He recorded it back in Memphis using C.W. Gatlin on guitarand Tommy Ray Gatlin on drums. Jimmy put it out as Jimmy Dale Evans . He also used the name Lattie Lane when he put out a country song titled "Nashville Woman." In 1982 he cut "Pink Cadillac" a recording that sounds as though it was done years earlier. Jimmy overdubbed himself on slap bass to get the fifties feel. Most of these recordings are on the Rockhouse CD "The Joint's Really Jumping."
Probably Jimmy's most lucrative songwriting credit came with "It Wouldn't Happen With Me" a song that he assigned to Knox music and Sam took the song to Jerry Lee Lewis. Later on Johnny Rivers recorded it and put it out as the flipside of his hit "Memphis, Tennessee." Talking of Jerry Lee, Jimmy got to back him at the time "Messy Bessy" was out. Jimmy and his band were opening the show and Jerry Lee asked Jimmy to play guitar for him. Other acts Jimmy has played onstage with include Billy Lee Riley, Eddie Bond and George Jones. Jimmy was only seventeen at the time George came to town and didn't have his own group so he used local musicians.
In the studio he worked again with Mack Self on songs like "Four Walls Of Memory" and the other tunes Mack recorded at American Sound Studios. Jimmy played bass and sang in the vocal backing group. Jimmy has many happy memories of the rock 'n' roll days and remembers playing on American Bandstand with Ronnie the same time Frankie Ford was on. They played on many big package shows too, Jimmy once playing for Pat Boone. After rock'n'roll had died down Jimmy worked on the Arkansas Jamboree for eight years and a lot of big country stars would pass through, people from the Grand Ole Opry such as Lefty Frizzell, Jim Reeves, Martha Carson and Joe Maphis.
Jimmy still plays some fair dates around the Arkansas area and he has been songwriting with his daughter and has several in the hands of some big country names. He has also been writing for himself and has cut some new material which he hopes to have out this year. He is looking for a deal and hopes to get a chance to play in Europe.
Courtesy of Jim Newcombe,
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