Caught by the River

Jim Ford, R.I.P.

22nd November 2007

Jim Ford, 66, found dead Sunday 18th November. Remembered by L.P. Andersson, compiler of “Sounds of Our Time”

Less than a year after Bear Family’s highly successful and critically acclaimed Jim Ford CD, ‘Sounds Of Our Time’, we’re faced with the sad and tragic news that the prolific singer/songwriter has left life on Earth behind. Early in the evening of Sunday, November 18th 2007 Jim was found dead in his home by the Fort Bragg Sheriffs department. The open lid of Ford’s beloved Peugeot parked in the rain outside caused neighbours to suspect something had gone wrong. We don’t know what caused his death, but an autopsy is being carried out.

James Henry Ford was the composer of Aretha Franklin’s Niky Hoeky and Bobby Womack’s Harry Hippie. He was Sly Stone’s friend and a big influence on Nick Lowe. In 1969 Jim Ford blended the sounds of gritty R&B with down-home country on the now legendary album, ‘Harlan County’. Its music occupies the land where R&B meets country, Memphis and Nashville meet Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta meets Appalachia . Jim Ford had a tremendous impact on everyone who crossed his path. He is featured on Sly & The Family Stone’s classic “There’s A Riot Going On” and during a short stint in London 1971 he helped ignite what would later be known as the UK pub rock scene. In the ’80s, Jim Ford disappeared into a haze of drug abuse and erratic behaviour.

Many tried to find Jim Ford, but no one succeeded until April 2006 when he was tracked down to a trailer park in Mendocino County , California . In the liner notes to ‘Sounds Of Our Time’, Jim finally told his full and almost incomprehensible story. In his modest mobile home we found master tapes galore spread out over the floor. Bear Family assembled a compilation, ‘Sounds Of Our Time’, and finally Jim got his long overdue recognition.

Jim Ford didn’t lead a very glamorous life when we first encountered him, but money from the first Bear Family CD helped to improve his financial situation. Just days before his death we advanced Jim money for our upcoming ‘Point Of No Return’ compilation. The success of ‘Sounds Of Our Time’ also made the idea of recording new material possible. At times there was talk of using Jim Dickinson as producer and James Burton volunteered to play guitar. A charity gig for Jim was to take place in London on 18th May 2008. Nick Lowe was supposed to perform together with Jim Ford in person. Sadly we won’t get to see or hear any of this now.

Jim has been described as otherworldly, and his charisma, humour and musical talents definitely were. His legacy will live on. Many projects are under construction and no devotee will be left disappointed. We aim to preserve his music and recordings for generations to come. He will be missed by many. Our thoughts are especially with Merrily Pence, who patiently stood at Jim’s side for the last fifteen years, and Movita Castenada who lived together with Jim in the ’60s and ’70s. Jim Ford was stepfather to Movita and Marlon Brando’s two children, Miko & Rebecca.

[audio:|titles=05 1. Love On My Brain]