Friday, November 05, 2010

Happy birthday, Jimmie

Happy 61st birthday, Jimmie. Jimmie Spheeris: 5 November 1949 - 4 July 1984.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Free Jimmie photo download

I've been reading reply posts on the blog this morning, since work in the design studio is slow lately. Scary slow, actually. The recession seems to have finally hit home. Anyway, the page called "A Mystery solved," features a link to a free high-resolution Jimmie photo, which was used in the cover art for the final album, "Spheeris." There's some interesting backstory about the photo there, too, if you have some time to kill. You can download the photo as a PDF (note: it's a big file and may take a while download if you're on a slow connection).

Reading through all the great posts people have made here, it occurred to me to post the link for those who may not have seen that page. Just a little nod of appreciation to the Jimmie fans who continue to share their comments and encouragement. Enjoy!

Monday, February 22, 2010

New for 2010: Doreen Davis Gallery

It's been ages since I've added new stuff to the Jimmie site. I hope to make amends for that in 2010. See the beginnings of a new wing for Jimmie's friend and backing vocalist, Doreen Davis... and stay tuned for more. Doreen mailed a large box of amazing stuff before her untimely death in 2003. I could barely bring myself to really dive in to it for a long time, but that is gonna change now (along with several other updates to the Jimmie site).

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Time flies

A Jimmie Spheeris fan sent a message about the cover of Jimmie's final CD... and that got me thinking about the time from '96 to 2000 when Johnny Pierce (the late, great and sorely missed founder of Rain Records) and I were working to save Jimmie master tapes before they disintegrated in in the Sony vaults. I remembered this page on the Jimmie site and thought I'd share it. I'm thinking about how the little things we send out across the net ripple back and forth for years. Sometimes they come back to haunt us... but sometimes they come back to bring comfort.

The Jimmie Spheeris restoration project was a high point in my creative and personal life. I'm so fortunate to have been a part of it. I think Jimmie would be pleased with what we did to bring his legacy to a new generation of listeners.

See: A Mystery Solved

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A new world, full of hope and promise

It's been a long strange ride since I posted anything on this blog. There was a long dry spell after Johnny's death and the Sony licensing nightmare... frankly, I couldn't open the Jimmie site without opening old wounds.

Some interesting stuff popped into my life during the past few weeks. Out of the blue...

A longtime fan offered to help finish a book about Jimmie's life and times that I've struggled with for decades. We had a good long talk on the telephone. She also offered to help preserve Jimmie's legacy in other interesting ways (perhaps a benefit concert or an album of cover tunes).

A local radio DJ gave me a recording he pirated at a concert Jimmie performed in San Francisco, circa 1974. While listening to it, I cried like a baby. Tears of joy. Amazing performances, plus a few Jimmie tunes never archived anywhere.

There's more news, too. I'll try to post and update the Jimmie website as time permits. Thanks for keeping the flame burning. Keep in touch and pass it on.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Buying Jimmie CDs (reply to fan letter)

Hi all:

The following email inspired me to upload a long overdue post at the Jimmie blog.


Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2008 17:38:02 -0400

For some reason, out of the blue, after all these years, I found myself wishing I could listen to Jimmie Spheeris again. So, I did a search, and found your site.

Thanks by the way....

In case of the very remote chance you are not aware of this, Jimmie's music seems to be available again (or in some cases soon will be.)

Both links are the same, only one's tiny for easier pasting.

Tom's link one

Tom's link two

Greensboro, N.C.


Thanks for writing, Tom. I really appreciate it. Sorry for the reply delay... I can't seem to keep the avalanche of incoming mail under control. I'll post your links on the Jimmie blog.

I knew that Amazon was selling used CDs but was unaware that the work may have been re-licensed. It's possible that Sony has released the work to a third party (since they owned the rights to the catalog when it was originally licensed to Johnny Pierce and Rain Records in 1998). I honestly don't know the status of the catalog.

Sony contractually required Johnny to manufacture the original CDs at their facilities and eventually pulled the license after Johnny had spent approximately $150,000.00 on the project (manufacturing costs, licensing fees, remastering costs, engineering and promotional fees and related expenses for all six albums). When K-Tel (the distributor chosen by Sony) went bankrupt in 2000, the entire stock of manufactured CDs disappeared into their vaults and Johnny was out of the loop. He was beginning a battle with the cancer that eventually took his life and never recouped his investment.

As for me, I never billed Johnny or Sony a penny for restoring the original LP cover art. The restoration process is an interesting story... you can read it on the website. See:

Isle of View cover art restoration


Ports of the Heart cover art restoration

The project also included countless hour tracking down and restoring rare photos, related research, writing and designing CD liner inserts, trying hard to give all credit where credit was due, hosting the memorial site out of pocket (which I'm still doing), proofing art with Sony's printers, and creating pieces of original art (for example, the "mini-poster" on the "Evening With Jimmie Spheeris CD insert). Based on my regular fees for this sort of work, I gave Sony a free ride to the tune of about $80,000.00. If Jimmie's catalog has indeed been re-licensed, I wonder if Johnny and I are even listed in the credits.

The original 1970s master recordings were disintegrating and action had to be taken immediately to preserve them. Ellen Fitton -- the engineer who remastered "Ports of the Heart" -- called me from New York late one night to say that when she pulled the original 24-track master out of the Sony vaults and opened the box, brown oxide dust drifted out... a sure sign that the oxide was separating from its mylar backing. She said that in a few more years, the tape would have been unsalvageable... and that was back in 1999.

It's crucial to note that Johnny and I did this project as a tribute and labor of love for our friend and his fans. There is a certain party (who shall remain nameless) who is under the impression that we embarked upon this crusade for our own profit and fame. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the entire project became a giant black hole attached to our bank accounts. Given the way Jimmie was used by the record industry while he was alive, this feels to me like a fitting and sad epitaph. Friends tell me I have every reason to be bitter. I'm not and I'd do it all over again.

Well, there's some backstory, Tom. Probably a lot more than you expected (smile). I'm glad you wrote... a bunch of stuff bubbled up when I read your letter and it felt good to revisit and reply. Catharsis is in the air today at Art101. Jimmie's gone, Johnny's gone, I'm going, but the work is preserved. In the end, that's all that matters. Plus, you inspired me to post something on the Jimmie blog. Way overdue. So, thanks again.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Website updates

Hi everybody:

Some recent updates on the Jimmie site include "A mystery solved" and some new info on how Jimmie's original LP album covers were digitally restored for the now out-of-print CD releases from Sony.

Since I now see copies of the restored artwork on many sites around the net (including Jimmie's listings at iTunes) I thought some of the fans might like insights on how the artwork was made.

A few more long overdue updates are in the works, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

23 years on the dot...

Hi Lisa...

Thanks for your post in the Welcome section. I know what you mean about the Fourth of July. I pretty much dread it still... especially after dark, when fireworks crack and pop and light up the sky.

Couldn't sleep last night... watching C-span around 2:30 (some nutbag politician quacking away about how we all need to give the so-called "Surge" a little more time to snatch supremacy from yet another nutbag war), and I suddenly thought, "Yikes... 23 years on the dot."

Flipped off the TV (so to speak) and sat in the back yard for a while with a glass of an amusing little Chardonnay. The neighborhood was cool, dark and quiet. One could just barely see a few stars winking through the yellow glare of city lights. A delta breeze washed up from the San Francisco Bay, rustling through a hundred-year-old Elm tree with a trunk so wide it takes three people stretching just to hug it. (Damn tree-huggers ...grin).

We pretty much have only two seasons here in Sacramento: Rain and Blast Furnace. It's over 100 degrees Fahrenheit as I type this. Guess which season we're in. A hundred years ago, the citizens of Sacramento planted Elm trees all over midtown. Many of these trees are still standing. They're magnificent. They arch over the streets like a living gothic cathedral, asking nothing, offering only shelter and shade. I wondered who had planted 'my' Elm tree... and sent a prayer of thanks up through the smog to a soul long gone. I wondered what he or she might make of our world... and offered thanks for foresight and resolve.

Today was OK. I watered my next door neighbor's vegetable garden shortly after the sun came up. He's out of town for a few weeks and neighbors are taking care of his place. Picked some peppers and spied two tomatoes that will be ready to harvest in a day or two. First of the season. Yum! Went to see Michael Moore's new movie, "Sicko". It fired me up to remember that there are people in the world still working for change. The theater was packed and the audience went wild with applause when the film ended. Jimmie was never far from my mind... and for the first time in decades, everything was almost OK.

A big, healthy, gleaming, blue-black crow was strutting around in the front yard when I got home. He was staring me in the eye and talking. Strutting and cawing... very animated. I thought of Jimmie's pet crow from the olden days and said to him, "Hey, Jimmie, What's up?"

As you may know, crows are very intelligent. Several studies show that they have a complex social structure and well-developed language.

I don't pretend to be an expert in the Crow language, but here's a rough translation of the reply:

"Hey, Andy, I'm doing fine. Johnny and Paul say hi. You kicked ass. Say hi to all the fans. Tell them thanks for keeping the music alive."

Maybe tonight, I'll ride my bicycle down to the river to watch fireworks. Everybody who posts here, everybody who remembers and cherishes Jimmie's legacy, kicks ass. Thanks for keeping the music alive.


Andy Markley, Founder, The Jimmie Spheeris Memorial Gallery

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Rules (please read before posting)

After all these years, the Jimmie site continues to receive tens of thousands of hits from unique visitors each month. This fact warms my heart more than you can imagine (or maybe you can). In addition, I receive tons of private email and postal mail from Jimmie fans. I read and cherish them all.

That said, it's increasingly difficult for me to keep the Jimmie site updated or respond personally to your support in a timely manner. This is not a technology problem. I've got lots of technology and the know-how to use it. It's more of a... words fail me... spirit problem.

I'm not willing to go into details here at this time. But I will lay out some rules that everyone who posts here must follow. Anyone who violates these rules will find their post deleted as soon as I can get to it. Talk amongst yourselves privately, if you like, and do whatever you want, but don't jeopardize this blog or the Jimmie site.


1) Do not post a thread on this blog offering to copy, duplicate, share, or in any way make copies of Jimmie's music available to anyone, by any means whatsoever.

2) Share your personal stories and insights about Jimmie's music.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Sad news...

Johnny Pierce
November 30, 1953 - December 12, 2005

Johnny was a longtime friend to Jimmie and bass player on albums and tours from 1973 to 1980. Johnny's memorial wing includes a wealth of rare photos and stories.

Johnny passed away on December 12, 2005 after a long struggle with cancer. His inspiration and tireless support made the CD restoration of Jimmie's work possible.