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  The Class Wastrel (jimdowning)
Posted: 11:31:38 am on 8/18/2006 Modified: 1:21:22 pm on 8/24/2006
 
<font face="Verdana" size="2" color="Black"><FONT face=Verdana color=black size=2><FONT face=Verdana color=black size=2><FONT face=Verdana color=black size=2><FONT face=Verdana color=black size=2><FONT face=Verdana color=black size=2> <P>Hey, Old Ropers!<BR>There might be a few of you who remember me. Let me first apologize for interfering with your education.<BR>I never graduated and never went to college, except to sit in on some music classes. I walked out of Will On The Hill in early 66, then killed the 66-67 year at Hale and still didnít have enough credits to be a senior. I was hanging out with the Tulsa Beatnik Community in those days.<BR>In July of 67 I joined a band from New York and toured the east and midwest, playing guitar and singing with a lounge band that had already had its moments in the sun.<BR>I knocked around back in Tulsa for a few months, still gigging, then went to LA for a couple of years. Much of that time I lived at the ranch of Scott McKenzie Ė the man who killed Haight-Ashbury. I jammed around the folk-rock scene with Denny Doherty, and Barry McGuire, etc. I had some near misses: ďWeíll take the singer, but we donít want the whole band.Ē<BR>McKenzie encouraged me to write songs and I did the coffeehouses as a soloist for a while. I also played with local bands The Chessmen, The Contraband, Soft White, MC2 (with Dave Tomer), and Soul Incorporated (with Bill Davis and Steve Hardin).<BR>In 71 I married Leslie Van Houten and we had two daughters. I had no education or job skills so I became a cabinetmaker in the daytime, and still played music as much as possible. I started recording my own songs, first at Derrick Studios. I played with Pot Luck & Begginí (with Randy Genet) and Sweet Release and then joined Xebec, one of the regionís most successful bands. We toured with Sly & The Family Stone. Leslie and I were separated at the time.<BR>Xebec hit the glass ceiling after recording at Leonís Church studio. I was signed to Shelter Records twice. Trying to save a bad marriage, I quit and moved to Stilwell and became a lumberjack Ė really.<BR>Failing even that, we returned to Bixby where my father Dauntless was running the Bulletin and I went back to woodworking and playing five nights a week with hypnotist Richard De La Font at The Captainís Cabin. That ended five years later, as did the marriage.<BR>Then I joined Flying Horse, another very popular band. We did an LP in 1980, which still sounds very good. I also started drinking some.<BR>Flying Horse disintegrated and I joined The Windbreakers, a 60s band that was an American Theater Co. production. I also played with Eddie & The Eclectics and Joyce Martel at The Brook Theater.<BR>Then in 83 I married Connie Wilkerson, whom I had dated at Hale. We had a daughter. That marriage lasted about half as long as the first one. I was working for Phillips Petroleum installing geotextiles and Petromat all over the US. Since I couldnít be in a band and do traveling construction, I began writing about local music for Uptown News. Downingís Street (which dad had used) was a popular column. It has appeared in several other local monthlies since then.<BR>After two failed marriages, I decided to drink even more. I fronted The Jacobs-Downing Band for a while and also played with The Mystery Band, Wanda Watson, Steve Pryor & The Mighty Kingsnakes, Mike Brewer, Jimmy Ellis, Gus Hardin, Fully Loaded, and Medicine Show. Iíve never been a member of a famous band, but I have been with three of Oklahomaís most important bands. Iíve gotten to jam with Taj Mahal and The Fabulous Thunderbirds, among others.<BR>By 1989 I was living in my van. Then I finally met the woman I should have married to begin with, Diana Garrett, a PK. It only took me 40 years to find her. I worked at Tom Zongkerís machine shop for a while. I quit drinking long enough to talk her into marrying me, but then it escalated again, culminating in 1993 when I had two wrecks in one night and didnít remember any of it. <BR>I got sober with Godís help and Dianaís unconditional love. We have sixteen grandchildren between us, and many of them visit often.<BR>I changed careers at 50 and am now a Stationary Engineer. I operate a couple of office buildings in downtown Tulsa. I started The Oscillators after I sobered up and that band lasted several years and did a CD in 95.<BR>I play with The Zigs now: Jim Ziegler, Bill Raffensperger, and Frank McPeters. We have a CD called Jukiní At Joeís which you can get at CDBaby.com.<BR>We have a web page at homeoftheblues.org Ė see The Zig Gazette. I also have some articles posted at Tulsatoday.com.<BR>To paraphrase Will Rogers; ďI donít belong to any organized religion Ė Iím a ChristianĒ I think a lot of people claim often quite vehemently to be Christians but they donít pay much attention to what Jesus actually said.<BR>Politically, Iím probably an anarchist or democratic socialist, I donít know. I can tell you that I am definitely not a Republican. To be an idealist is to be a malcontent. There is no such thing as an ex-hippie. You either are or you never were.<BR>Iím also writing a book, entitled Road Years. Itís stranger than fiction stories from a life in music. Itíll probably never see the light of day, even though itís the first great post-beatnik bio-novel. Other writers seem to like it. Maybe Iíll post it online for free. It is not family rated.<BR>So, I havenít accomplished much in the last 40 years, except to survive alcoholism. Iíve played most Friday and Saturday nights and helped average people forget what a week they had for a few hours; that has some redeeming social value. Most of all, I have an extraordinary marriage and I am a beloved Grampaw. Plus, Iím still Rockiní.<BR>Jim Downing<BR>August 2006<BR></P> <P>My email is <A href="mailto:jimdown1@excite.com">jimdown1@excite.com</A></P> <P> </P></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></FONT></font>
 
 


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