Goodbye to another rock legend

James Dewar 1942-2002

I am ashamed of myself for not knowing that he died 3 years ago. He was a big part of my teenage years as the bass player and vocalist for one of my all time favorite bands. Robin Trower. I hope this belated memorial urges you to seek out more Trower recordings and enjoy Jimmy's huge talent.

The man whom many have called "The Pavarotti of rock ‘n’ roll" died peacefully in his sleep on May 16, 2002 after a long illness.

Strangely, Jimmy’s career was not to begin with his vocal talents, but as guitar player with Lulu and the Lovers in the early 60s. From that point on, Jimmy’s career was to flourish beyond all his expectations.

Maggie Bell took him on board with the legendary Stone the Crows and the shy man’s voice was soon exposed on classics like The Touch of your Loving Hand. Another young singer had exploded on to the music scene, but the best was yet to come.

Living in London with his wife Martha and their young family, he was approached by Frankie Miller. The two Glasgow buddies were having a small refreshment when out of the blue Frankie told Jimmy that "there might be a job going" with some guitar player called Robin Trower, that the music industry insiders were raving about. "What kind of job?" asked Jimmy. Frankie laughed and said, "Oh, I don’t know. Maybe playing bass, maybe singing". Jimmy applied and got both jobs.

The Robin Trower Band became the hottest thing on the planet and introduced "Stadium Rock" to the USA. Frankie was right! The RTB were the first band to sell tickets by the hundreds of thousands. Gold and Platinum albums were thrown at them like frisbees.

Among James Dewar's biggest fans were Frankie Miller, Billy Connolly, Donny Hathaway, Rod Stewart, not forgetting Maggie Bell and Lulu herself.

The famous Scottish screenwriter, Peter McDougall, still talks of his first experience of meeting Jimmy. When having a drink with Frankie, Peter noticed that the man standing next to him was clothed in snakeskin trousers, cowboy boots and not much else. "Who’s that?" Peter asked. Frankie replied "That’s James Dewar". Peter howled, "Well, I want to be one of them!"

It says it all. Everyone from Metallica to the Stereophonics were influenced by the voice of the Scotsman. The man the music industry recognized as the voice from heaven has finally gone home. We will all miss you James.

I offer you one of my favorite Robin Trower songs with Jimmy on bass and vocals. It's called Little Bit of Sympathy from the Bridge of Sighs album. One line that strikes me now that Jimmy is gone is "When my time is passed is it too much to ask for a Little Bit of Sympathy?"

Little Bit of Sympathy 4.1mb


Jimbob said...

Nice read ! From what I understand James Dewar suffered a debilitating stroke in 1987 and was confined to a wheelchair, another victim of too much rock-n-roll excess. Robin Trower said he would have liked to have worked with him again but the stroke left him unable to perform. If you come across the King Biscuit Flower Hour CD of Robin Trower In Concert, I highly recommend it. They do a cover of the blues standard " Further On Up The Road " that will blow you away !

Jimbob said...

P.S. --- Amazon has a listing for it and listening samples for all the tracks. Check it out !

John in Atlanta said...

THANKS JIM! I just ordered it!

Bangkok Bertha said...

That's so eerie that you just posted this about James Dewar: I was playing a Trower CD at home last night (a two-for of "Twice Removed From Yesterday" & "Bridge of Sighs" - classic stuff!). What you wrote is so true. He was a very underrated vocalist.

John in Atlanta said...

That IS eerie considering I also listened to Bridge of Sighs yesterday - TWICE. Yes indeed that is classic stuff. I've misplaced my copies of Twice Removed and For Earth Below. Looks like I'll be searching the CD store today. I'm so in the mood for more Trower. Isn't it strange how we can listen to stuff we've had for 30 years and still enjoy it? But new stuff we discovered last year is all but forgotten. Of course 30 years ago I always played stuff to death so 30 years later it is as familiar as an old friend. I can't think of much that has come out in the last 10 years that I've played to death.

Jimbob said...

I here ya ! I try to keep up with what's new on the music scene but the majority of my CD purchases are stuff I used to own on vinyl or cassette. And the new stuff I do buy tends to sound like the things I grew up with. That Fireball Ministry CD I told you about awhile back sounds like classic Ozzy/Metallica. Couple of others that I've purchased in the last year that I really like are Patty Scialfas' " 23rd Street Lullaby " and Robert Bradleys Blackwater Surprise " Time To Discover ".

John in Atlanta said...

I bought that Fireball Ministry CD - it rocks!

Bangkok Bertha said...

Jim: that Patty Scialfa album is one of my favorites this year. Great songs from start to finish. I also buy tons of old things I used to own on vinyl or tape (even 8-track!), but I also like to take a chance on new stuff, too. I bought Trower's "For Earth Below" in a used bin and enjoyed it so much that I went out and got the first two albums. Lately, I've been playing "new" stuff by John Prine, Steve Earle, John Hiatt, and even the Atlanta Rhythm Section!

Tom said...

Cool song.. it works better if you stream it instead of just post the link to the mp3 though. It's pretty easy to do.

John in Atlanta said...

You'll have to share your knowlwdge of streaming with me. I'm good but not THAT good :-)

Tom said...

I'll send you an email.. it's not difficult and works well.