JIMMY ISLE

Jimmy Isle and his brother Ronnie grew up in Nashville. They wrote many songs together : Jimmy has 39 entries in the BMI database (almost all of them co-written with his brother) and Ronnie 69. As a singer, Jimmy first appeared on the scene in 1957, with "Stay By My Side"/ "Baby-O" on the Chicago-based Bally label. The next year he recorded what is probably his best rocker, "Goin' Wild" for Morris Levy's Roulette label (4065). Written by Ronnie Isle, "Goin' Wild" featured a group called The Southlanders on vocal backup, as well as some excellent work from the lead guitarist. A few months later, Ronnie Isle came up with an interesting rocking instrumental, "Wicked"/"Bad Sunburn" on MGM 12682, credited to Ron Isle and the Blisters.

At some point in 1958, Jimmy recorded "Diamond Ring" and "I've Been Waitin'" at a demo studio, Fidelity Recording, in Nashville. Fidelity was owned by Gary Walker, a songwriter from Springfield, Missouri. Walker leased these masters to Sun Records in October 1958, and Sun picked up Isle's contract. The most obvious selling feature of "Diamond Ring" (Sun 306) and Isle's other releases was a rhythmic hook. After being signed to Sun, Jimmy was brought to Memphis to record one session (produced by Jack Clement) from which two singles were drawn. The backing was supplied by Billy Riley (guitar), Pat O'Neill (bass), Tommy Ross (drums), Charlie Rich (piano) and Martin Willis (sax). "Without A Love"/"Time Will Tell" (Sun 318) was released in March 1959 and, like "Diamond Ring" was geared to the white teenage market. Billboard assigned both sides a three star rating, crediting Isle with singing "with spirit and style". In honesty, Jimmy's three Sun singles were not among the greatest music the legendary label released, and the third one, "What A Life"/"Together" (Sun 332) was easily the least effective of the lot, softened as it was by sweet girl voices. It stiffed big time, thereby ending Isle's one y ear association with the label. Jimmy moved to the Everest label, on which he had three singles released (1959-60). After a slight lull, he turned up on Mala in 1963 and on Diamond in 1964, after which he disappeared. His brother Ronnie had releases on Metro (1959), Image (1960) and Warwick (1961) and later died in a car wreck. According to Hank Davis, Jimmy is still living in Nashville. "A person less interested in his past life as a Sun artist would be hard to find."

Acknowledgements : Hank Davis, In the Vaults : The Original Sun Singles, Vol. 3 and 4 ( books accompanying Bear Family box-sets). Also consulted were the sleeve notes (by Bill Millar) for the LP "Roulette Rock 'n' Roll Collection" on Pye International NSPL 28245 (1978), with acknowledge- ments to a certain Anthony (!) Wilkinson.

P.S.: Among the songs in the BMI database written by the Isle Brothers is "Box of Candy". Can anyone confirm that this is the song that Vince Everett recorded? The Everett CD on Hydra has no info on the writer's credit for "Box of Candy". An excellent record, by the way.

 
These pages were saved from "This Is My Story" for reference usage only. Please note that these pages were not originally published or written by BlackCat Rockabilly Europe. For comments or information please contact Dik de Heer at dik.de.heer@ziggo.nl

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