Born James Dee Fore, 17 August 1937, San Antonio, Texas
My first encounter with the name Jimmy Dee took place in 1958, when I heard his "Henrietta" played on a jukebox in Purmerend, where I went to school. It was a jukebox where you could easily see the label and the catalogue number as the record was spinning around, so I noticed that this was yet another great rocker on my favourite label, London (FL 1718, Dutch pressing ; there was no release on London American in the UK at the time). Not many copies were printed of this Dutch release, I think, and when I started collecting records in the early sixties it proved to be quite hard to find. But my friend Henk Gorter in Groningen did own a copy of the London single and taped both sides for me. The flip, "Don't Cry No More", wasn't bad either, though lacking the raucous intensity of the A-side. "Henrietta", credited to Jimmy Dee and the Offbeats", was originally recorded for Bob Tanner's Austin-based TNT label in the autumn of 1957. Strong local sales prompted Dot Records to purchase the master and with the promotion of this much bigger label, "Henrietta" went to # 47 on the Billboard charts in early 1958. The song has become a minor classic. It was the first record Bob Dylan ever bought, and the song featured in his early pre-folk repertoire. There was a cover by Don Barber on Personality Records and "Henrietta" has been revived by Doug Sahm, the Trashmen and Freddie Fender (who cut a version in Spanish, "Enriquetta"), among others.
The follow-up, "You're Late Miss Kate", is another volcanic rocker, again written by Jimmy Dee himself (credited as "Fore" on the label) in cooperation with Larry Hitzfeld, who was probably one of the Offbeats, Dee's backing group. Again, it was originally released on TNT (152) and then on Dot (15721). But after the record failed to chart, Dot passed on its option to license Dee's third single, "I Feel Like Rockin'"/" Rock-Tick-Tock" (TNT 161), on which a 17-year old Doug Sahm played guitar.
One further Jimmy Dee track, "That's What I Call Love" emerged on a White Label LP ("Rock, Rock, Rock", LP 8805) in the 1980s, but that's about it : a total output of just seven tracks. Nevertheless, "Henrietta", and to a lesser extent, "You're Late Miss Kate", suffice to ensure Jimmy Dee's immortality as a rock 'n' roll artist.
What happened to him later is not quite clear. Some say he joined the Houston police force, others like Joel Whitburn reckon he managed the Houston Astrodome. A third source puts him in Chicago living the life of a very wealthy man with no interest in his rocking past. This Jimmy Dee apparently recorded for Inner-Glo and Pixie, but he's not the Little Jimmy Dee on Infinity, nor the Jimmy Dee on Ace and Scope.
Both "Henrietta" and "You're Late Miss Kate" have been reissued heavily, but there are only two CD's that contain both songs: "Dot Rock 'n' Roll" (Ace 592, released in 1996) and "That'll Flat Git It, Vol. 5 (Dot)" on Bear Family BCD 15711, issued in 1997. For the availability of Jimmy Dee's tracks, see also Terry Gordon's website: http://rcs.law.emory.edu/rcs/artists/d/dee-3100.htm
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