Welcome to the land where blues began

"The Amazing Jimmi Mayes, Sideman to the Stars"

October 06, 2014

By Jimmi Mayes with V. C. Speek

University Press of Mississippi

American Made Music Series

ISBN 978-1-61703-916-4


The unforgettable life story of one amazing musician touring and playing with Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Reed, Marvin Gaye, and many more...

Compared to most, I've lived an unusual life, lived in a lot of places, and loved a lot of beautiful women. I've been a drummer behind some of the greatest musicians and musical groups in history.

And so begins the tale of Chicago drummer Jimmi Mayes, who for more than fifty years, served as a sideman behind some of the greatest musicians and musical groups in history. He began his career playing the blues in the juke joints of Mississippi, sharpened his trade under the mentorship of drum legends Sam Lay and Fred Below in the steamy night clubs of south Chicago, and hit it big in New York City behind such music legends as Tommy Hunt from the Flamingos, Marvin Gaye, and James Brown.

Mayes played his drums behind blues giants Little Walter Jacobs, Jimmy Reed, Robert Junior Lockwood, Earl Hooker, Junior Wells, Pinetop Perkins, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith. He lived for a while with Motown sensation Martha Reeves and her family, and traveled with the Shirelles and the Motown Review. Jimi Hendrix was one of Mayes's best friends. They were roommates when they traveled together with Joey Dee and the Starliters.

Mayes lived through racial segregation, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, the integration of rock bands, and the emergence of Motown. He personally experienced the sexual and moral revolutions of the sixties, was robbed of his musical royalties, and survived a musical drought. He's been a pimp and a drug pusher, and lived to tell the tale when so many musicians have not.

The Amazing Jimmi Mayes provides a trip through the progression of music from the 1950s through present day and gives readers a backstage look at the music industry from a unique perspective. This sideman to the stars witnessed music history from the best seat in the house-behind the drum set...

JIMMI MAYES learned his trade as a teenager in the juke joints around Jackson, Mississippi. He went on to perform with many well-known artists, including Little Walter Jacobs, Marvin Gaye, and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas. V. C. SPEEK is the author of God Has Made Us a Kindgom: James Strang and the Midwest Mormons. Speek is a former newspaper reporter and currently works as the editor of John Whitmer Books in Independence, Missouri.

For more information contact Clint Kimberling, Publicist, ckimberling@mississippi.edu

Read more about The Amazing Jimmi Mayes: Sideman to the Stars at www.upress.state.ms.us.



2013 Award
IMLS logo
NEA logo
mac logo
NAHYP logo

This newsletter is supported in part by funding from the Mississippi Arts Commission, a state agency, and, in part, from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

This site is made possible through support from the Mississippi Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rock River Foundation.

Exhibits, Events and More!

This site made possible through the support of Mississippi Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Humanities and the Rock River Foundation.

Support for the Delta Blues Foudation, Inc has been provided by explore.org, a direct charitable activity of the Annenberg Foundation.

Latest Posts

Museum Contact information

1 Blues Alley
Clarksdale, MS 38614
Phone: 662-627-6820
Email: info@deltabluesmuseum.org