About Jimmy Stephens Jr.

Rock – Pop Rock – Blues Rock – Folk & Power Pop Variety

Traveling and being on the road. Song writing and playing music with friends. A nice warm fire on a snowy winter night. The Rockies. Any time when good friends can get together or meeting new people with similar interests…. But, once you pop the top, it’s all Rock ‘n Roll!

Extended Bio:

MEMPHIS, TN — Jimmy Stephens Jr. is a singer-songwriter who started his career on the Mississippi River in Memphis, Tennessee – at the intersection of Rock & Roll, Beale St, Stax, and the British Invasion… Memphis born and a long time mainstay of the music scene here, Jimmy Stephens Jr. delivers rocking songs with “smarts and heart” as Popdose noted in its “Highly Recommended” review of his 2014 album, Road Ready, credited to Jimmy Stephens Jr. and The Blues City Road Dogs (BCRD). The BCRD is a script name for the band as talks of a musical had developed. The album features 13 songs from the pen of Jimmy, and again, as Popdose stated, “his warm and fluid vocals and songwriting take center stage; gentle on the softer, string-laden ballads and pure rock & roll on the rest.” Road Ready’s songs have the melodies, structure and catchiness that sticks in your head and causes you to sing along and his musical career reads like a rock & roll novel he’s still writing! In the wake of Road Ready’s release, Jimmy released the glistening “I Wish It Was Christmas” single in December, 2016.

Noted for his tasty bass lines, singing and multi-instrumental talents, Jimmy started his career as a singer in a band with friend (and future Big Star bassist) Andy Hummel, but knew he wanted to be a songwriter and play the guitar all along. He bought his first microphone at a pawn shop on Beale. With two guitar players already in the first group, Jimmy did the next logical thing: he bought a bass guitar, picked up the guitar and piano and started a band with his brother, Jody, later of Big Star fame, and friend Wendell Wheat on guitar. A variety of musical experiments found the trio in Memphis’ Sonic Studios, cutting demos with legendary producer Roland Janes. Those early demos grabbed the attention of Stax Records, where Jimmy was asked to come back with nine or 10 additional tracks to explore a possible single. “Live gigs and money prevailed at the time,” Jimmy remembers. The three were eventually invited to be part of the first Broadway college production of the rock musical Hair at the University of Memphis, one of the biggest music and theatre events in the city’s history at the time. The show’s three-week run sold out the first day. But shortly after the tribe performed at the Atlanta Pop Festival (with the likes of rock God Jimi Hendrix), the three of them found other musical avenues to pursue. Jody went on to play drums in what would eventually become Big Star as Jimmy found opportunity in a move to Los Angeles.

Jimmy made the California move to pursue a career as a songwriter, but found that most of people he met were doing covers. “Playing in cover bands all over the U.S.A. was a lot of fun,” Jimmy said. “Meeting fantastic musicians and seeing our fabulous country from Las Vegas to Dallas to Chicago to… well, the list goes on and on, but they were still doing covers.” With limited success of bands wanting to write as opposed to playing cover clubs, Jimmy found opportunity again in Memphis. After two years on the road, Jimmy returned home to Memphis, where he had previously met John Fry, the owner of Ardent Studios, when the studio was on National. Jimmy, Ken Dinkins and Steve Wilson started Front Porch Jam (a.k.a. Resurrection); they wrote and performed originals, and through John, recorded several demos at Ardent and landed a recording contract at ABC Records through Isaac Hayes’ Hot Buttered Soul Productions. Just as they were laying down the tracks for their first album, Hayes went bankrupt. “We were standing at the door to his studio watching the Sheriff’s Department put padlocks on the doors.”, Jimmy remembers, as that band imploded as well.

Jimmy picked up his six string again, and after a stint in Florida, came back to Memphis, where he formed a band with former band-mate Ken Dinkins, and added Bev Mask (Spiral Staircase) on keyboards and Mike McCarroll on drums. They played covers in the clubs, while focusing on writing original material and released Jimmy’s “Blue Love” to great acclaim in Memphis. They developed a large and steady following in the top clubs of Memphis, but as is often the case, one of them got married and moved, another one decided to buy a full time ranch outside of Memphis, and the band ceased to exist.

Jimmy fell back on his acoustic guitar, playing shows here and there including fill-ins, playing bass for groups such as Big Star, Bill Black’s Combo and Ace Cannon (to name a few). Time went by, and Jimmy continued to write, but he was no longer a full-time musician. He went back to school, earning his bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Memphis.

But, the music business, like the universe, presents unexpected turns, and one came in 2010. Just as Big Star was planning a show at Memphis’ Levitt Shell, singer Alex Chilton died of a sudden heart attack. Concurrently happening, original Big Star bassist Andy Hummel was dealing with his own health problems and was unable to perform. After discussing what steps to take next, the remaining members decided that the show must go on. Jimmy, who had recorded on Big Star’s Third album, joined Jody, Jon Auer,

Ken Stringfellow and other musicians who had recorded with the iconic Memphis band of the 1970’s. “It was a lot of fun for all of us and many, many fans,” Jimmy says, “but at the same time, very reflective, with so many friends passing away at such young ages, Chris at 27.” Andy Hummel would also pass away in December, 2010.

As the brothers walked back to their cars after the show, Jimmy and Jody talked about recording again together and reuniting with some old friends. As the project was about to form, the much anticipated but delayed Big Star documentary, “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me”, was released. This required Jody’s attention and meant he would be out of town more frequently than initially thought. Unexpected but subsequently, Big Star’s Third reemerged and again, this labor of love pulled Jody out of town for increasing stretches of time. With Jody now on the road even more, Jimmy became the sole writer of the songs and the potential project they had envisioned took a different shape. A few twists and turns and the album took on a concept: college musicians hitting the road in the spring, with plans to return to school in the fall. While on the road, they find themselves farther and farther from home, and winter moving in. The 13 songs are the odyssey of the conceptual band’s travels and brought together some old friends, including Rick Steff of Lucero, Adam Hill of The Scruffs, Jimmy’s brother, Jody Stephens of Big Star on drums with, of course, Jimmy at the wheel. Given discussions of a script for a musical of the album, the band was given the conceptual scripted stage name of The Blues City Road Dogs, The BCRD for short. A name that reflected the attitude of the band and the rockin’ blues city where they were born.

Jimmy’s music is a perfect blend of rock, power pop, rockabilly, folk and a hint of country rock. Jimmy’s much anticipated next release, a full album titled “Code word: Rockit”, has a release date in mid February, 2020. From Popdose, we look forward to another “Balls-out, no bullshit”, foot stompin’ Memphis style party!!