Sounds of My Life 1
-- CLICK ON 'PLAY ALL SONGS' TO LISTEN TO AN OVER VIEW OF THE JAMES 'JIMMY ROCK' RUSSELL STORY. THE ORIGINAL SONGS ON THE SOUNDS OF MY LIFE PUNCTUATE THE LIFE SHAPING AND THREATENING EVENTS TAKING PLACE AS THIS TEENAGER STRUGGLES TO COMPLETE HIGH SCHOOL. What They Are Saying About Jimmy Mack: 'If Jimmy Mack gets here -- I'm back in the building.' Elvis 'Lost another little piece of my heart when we almost got him in my band. Oh LORD can't you find me a guitar player like Jimmy Mack.' Janis Joplin 'If you end up here -- please knock on my door. Til then, keep your eye on the road and your hand upon the wheel.' Jim Morrison They're talking about James Russell McIntosh, known by his countless friends and fans as 'Jimmy Mack'. Jimmy was child number six of the eight children, (five girls and three boys), born to James Harold McIntosh and Alice Esther Fisher. James Harold McIntosh (Jimmy Mack's father) had to leave high school the year his own father died in an automobile accident October 29, 1930. It seems James Harold skipped school and his father was killed while out looking for his truant son. This is one of the many events in the life of Jimmy Mack that inspired the events that take place in the fictional character James 'Jimmy Rock' Russell. Alice Esther Fisher married James Harold McIntosh on April 22, 1938. Alice was one of those rare human beings who had a natural affection for all people. Although she always confessed to her own children that she had been a spoiled brat, as an adult no one would agree. She is the inspiration for Esther Russell in the continuing saga of James 'Jimmy Rock' Russell. James attended Central School in West Newbury, Massachusetts. It was here in this school that housed grades one through eight that a buddy started calling him Jimmy Mack, and it has stuck with him ever since. In the sixth grade Jimmy Mack was taught by Doris P. Davis, the inspiration for Marie Scapelli's grandmother in The Sounds of My Life fictional story. Marie is James Russell's first love and nearly breaks his heart in episode one. The real teacher (Doris P Davis) had a profound impact on both Jimmy Mack and his older brother John. John played the guitar (rather poorly) and when he left high school for the military he told Jimmy not to touch his guitar. Years later Jimmy Mack said in a newspaper interview: 'What do you do when your older brother tells you not to do something. Consequently Jimmy Mack took over the guitar and immediately displayed an uncommon ability to listen to a song on the radio or record player and figure out how to play. This unique ability is mirrored in the James Russell character and is punctuated by 'Can't Stop It, song number four on The Sounds of My Life. Jimmy's earliest recollection of singing was a song his older sister Eva taught her siblings to sing to keep their minds off of their empty stomachs while waiting for their mother to return from grocery shopping. He was also undoubtedly influenced by the fact that his father James Harold McIntosh was an accomplished harmonica player, as was Jimmy Mack's aunt Thelma. Also, his maternal grandmother played piano at silent picture shows. One of Jimmy Mack's earliest bands was The Rhythm Kings. A seven piece band featuring four guitars, bass, drums and saxophone. A few weeks before the Kennedy Assassination The Rhythm Kings received a very favorable write up in the home town paper. The Rhythm Kings are the inspiration for the name of the band the fictional character James Russell goes out on the road with at the end of the first episode of The Sounds of My Life. His best friend has died mysteriously, he has lost Marie, the love of his love, he almost lost his own life. So he goes out on the road determined to make it as a guitar player and to return to win back Marie. This climax is punctuated by Good-Bye Blues, song number twelve on The Sounds of My Life Jimmy Mack actually went on the road for the first time while still a teenager. He worked all up and down the east coast in a number of different bands. In those days he was called Little Chuck, because he played a lot of Little Richard and Chuck Berry material. He performed on stage with many of the biggest name stars from the fifties through the present; and probably learned something from everyone of them. In fact he picked up his first tips on singing early in his career while working in the same club with Johnny Mathis. The Fugitives was another early band Jimmy worked with. It was a rhythm and blues band that was powered by the works of artists like Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Aretha Franklin, Sam and Dave and many others. Another important experience for Jimmy Mack was The Raw Meat, a band that fused jazz with rock. The Raw Meat played for an extended period at the Cheetah at 310 West Fifty-second Street in New York City and released a 45 titled 'Funky Hump Back' on the Musicor label. Unfortunately, the band broke up weeks before a promised appearance on The Ed Sullivan show so they never achieved what Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago accomplished with the same sound. The next 'long lasting' band was Dr Grabow which featured the sounds that lead to great success for The Rolling Stones, Rod Stewart, Elton John, etc. What followed was City Lights, this dynamic horn band opened for Natalie Cole at Boston Symphony Hall February 8, 1976, one of her first major concerts. In the 80's Jimmy Mack shared several tours with the cult favorite Roy Buchanan until Roy tragically hung himself in a Fairfax County, Virginia jail. Jimmy had great hopes working with Roy because Roy had such a high regard for Jimmy's ability. Roy once said in a Toronto television interview that to succeed 'You have to surround yourself with professionals and that is what I have done'. That comment and especially playing guitar on stage with Roy meant a lot to Jimmy Mack since it came from the man about whom Rolling Stone magazine in 1971 wrote: 'Roy Buchanan provides what may well be the best rock-guitar picking in the world.' In between these major efforts Jimmy Mack worked with countless bands covering nearly every imaginable musical genre including: rock, jazz, disco, folk, top 40, blues, R & B, soul, show bands, country western, and gospel. He worked on the development of a rock band called Rainbow Magic that featured a magician. To Jimmy Mack's great delight, he played for some time with the Unbelievable Babe Pino, the most under-rated blues harp player in America. When playing guitar failed to pay the rent, Jimmy Mack supplemented his income by working as a short-order cook, carpenter's helper, well digger, roofer's helper, laborer, mason's helper, handy man, hazardous wastes handler; and because of the incredible sensitivity of his hearing, even worked as an audio tape expert for a team of high priced attorney's during a celebrated, high profile 'Mafia' trial. Having worked with such a variety of styles of music explains why his original tunes draw from so many different traditions. Jimmy's music offers quite a challenge to the music critic -it defies categorization. Unfortunately, that's a handicapped for contemporary radio which likes to pigeon hole recording artist into tight formats. As if there isn't any one left out there who enjoys a variety of music styles. Someone once said that the song 'Stones' sounds like Bob Dylan meets James Brown. 'Stones' is one of the songs that appear on Jimmy Mack's The Sounds of My Life Volume One - CD. This concept album was jointly produced by James and his brother John. The two brothers had attempted collaborations earlier in Jimmy's career, but financial constraints always subverted their efforts. Finally, in March of 1996, when they lost their mother Alice McIntosh to pancreatic cancer, they pledged to join forces once again to produce an album in her memory. The Sounds of My Life - Volume One was thirty-five plus years in the making. It's the story of teenager James 'Jimmy Rock' Russell's battle to break from his father's belief: 'life is a cruel joke'.
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