Saturday, August 15, 2009

RIP Jim Dickinson

Memphis producer, musician Jim Dickinson dies

JACKSON, Miss. – Jim Dickinson, a musician and producer who helped shape the Memphis sound in a career that spanned more than four decades, died Saturday. He was 67.

His wife, Mary Lindsay Dickinson, said he died in a Memphis, Tenn., hospital after three months of heart and intestinal bleeding problems.

The couple lived in Hernando, Miss., but Dickinson recently had bypass surgery and was undergoing rehabilitation at Methodist University Hospital, his wife said.


Dickinson's career touched on some of the most important music made in the '60s and '70s. He recorded the Rolling Stones' "Wild Horses" in Muscle Shoals, Ala.; formed the Atlantic Records house band The Dixie Flyers to record with Franklin and other R&B legends in Miami; inspired a legion of indie rock bands through his work with Big Star; collaborated with Ry Cooder on a number of movie scores, including "Paris, Texas;" and played with Dylan on his Grammy-winning return to prominence, "Time Out of Mind."

He credited his work with Big Star on "Third/Sister Lovers" with keeping his tape reels turning over the years, and Stephens found Dickinson's fingerprints all over the album when he listened to it recently.

"There's so many contributions from people that Jim either brought in or helped steer," Stephens said. "And sometimes a brilliant decision is to do nothing, allow space and that sort of thing. His keyboard part in 'Kizza Me' is this great fractured piano that kind of cascades, like the piano's falling down a flight of steps. I think it was all about the spirit and the emotion."

Dickinson's later work as a producer veered wildly across genres, skipping from Mudhoney to T Model Ford to Lucero and Amy Lavere.

"I'm not really a success-oriented person," Dickinson said. "If you look back at my records that I've made as a producer, they're pretty left-wing. It's some pretty off-the-wall stuff. Especially in the punk rock days. I literally took clients because I thought it would impress my children. I did work in the '70s and '80s where that was definitely my main motive."