Jim Dickinson passed away on August 15, 2009. This story most likely won't be covered by any of the major news outlets like Les Paul's passing was, but he will certainly be mourned just as much by many notable musicians, music professionals and music aficionados. If you are a passionate music fan, then taking the time to find out who Jim Dickinson was is a worthwhile investment of your time.
I won't bore you with a reprint of his bio here, but you will find his recording studio's, Zebra Ranch, site to contain much more exhaustive information about his production and session work then the Wikipedia page (which isn't terribly informative). Instead, I'm just going to share with you some of my personal favorite records/songs that Jim Dickinson produced or played on:
The Rolling Stones "Wild Horses". Jim played piano on arguably the greatest ballad by The Rolling Stones (I have never been able to choose which is better between this song and "Angie").
Bob Dylan "Time Out Of Mind". Jim played keyboards, Wurlitzer electric piano and pump organ on this 1997 Bob Dylan release which I consider to be his best album since '83s "Infidels".
Lucero "Nobody's Darlings". Jim produced this 2005 release by one of the best alt-country/indie/whateverthehellyouwanttocallthegenre bands going.
Mudhoney "Tomorrow Hit Today". Jim produced this oft overlooked 1998 release from Seattle's Mudhoney. Not their best album, but if you are a fan, it is essential for your collection.
The Replacements "Pleased To Meet Me". Jim produced the 1987 release from The Replacements which has memorable songs from their catalog like "Alex Chilton", "Skyway" and "Can't Hardly Wait".
There are a wealth of other artists Jim worked with including Johhny Cash, Big Star, Toots and the Maytalls, Ry Cooder, John Hiatt and on and on and on. He is a great example of someone who didn't get the spotlight, but sure as hell was incredibly important.
On a personal note, years ago I worked one of Jim's solo releases, "Free Beer Tomorrow". It didn't light up the charts, hell, I'm pretty sure it didn't even wind up in the stadium parking lot of the charts, but the people I dealt with who were fans of Jim really, really loved him. He played a live show at Lakeside Lounge, a wonderful little dive bar on the Lower East Side, and you could barely get your arms up to drink your beer because it was so packed. Years later I would go to the same bar to see some singer/songwriter that Joe Elliot and Vivian Campbell from Def Leppard (who were in attendance and I believe it was touted that they may jump onstage with him) had discovered and was one of about a dozen people there. Draw your own conclusions...
Jim's legacy will live on not only in his recorded works, but with his two sons, Luther and Cody DIckinson, who play in the North Mississippi Allstars. The NMA's are one of the best live bands I have ever seen and, in my opinion, are unfairly lumped in with the jam band scene. I personally dismissed them at first because I assumed they were just like Widespread Panic, Phish and all that other crap, but then I witnessed a live show and was instantly converted. They are a straight-up blues rock boogie rock n roll machine and well worth your time. "Shake Hands With Shorty" and "51 Phantom" are good starting points, but the live show is absolutely where it's at.