Dickerson, James L. 1945-
Dickerson, James L. 1945-
Born September 14, 1945, in Greenwood, MS; son of James Luther and Emily Juanita Dickerson; married Ina Rae Taylor, 1967 (divorced, 1982); children: Jonathan. Education: University of Mississippi, B.A., 1968.
Home—Nashville, TN. Office—P.O. Box 415, Hollandale, MS 38748.
Writer, journalist. Previously worked as a social worker for ten years. Delta Democrat-Times, Greenville, MS, reporter, 1977; Greenwood Commonwealth, Greenwood, MS, reporter, 1977-78; Tallahassee Democrat, Tallahassee, FL, reporter, 1978-79; Jackson Daily News, Jackson, MS, editorial page editor, 1979-82; The Commerical Appeal, Memphis, TN, editorialist, 1982-86; Nine-O-One magazine, Memphis, editor and publisher, 1986-88; Pulsebeat Productions, Memphis, executive producer, 1987-89; freelance writer and photographer in Memphis, 1989—. Book critic for the Toronto Star and the Baltimore Sun, 1974-75, and BookPage and The Tennessean, 1999—; columnist for Facing South, 1977-78.
First place in editorial writing from the Associated Press, 1981; Ralph J. Gleason Award nominee, 1997, 1998.
Coming Home: 21 Conversations about Memphis Music, Scripps-Howard (Memphis, TN), 1986.
Goin' Back to Memphis: A Century of Blues, Rock 'n' Roll, and Glorious Soul, Schirmer Books (New York, NY), 1996.
Country Music's Most Embarrassing Moments, Cumberland House (Nashville, TN), 1996.
That's Alright, Elvis: The Untold Story of Elvis's First Guitarist and Manager, Scotty Moore/As Told to James Dickerson, Schirmer Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Dixie's Dirty Secret: The True Story of How the Government, the Media, and the Mob Conspired to Combat Integration and the Vietnam Antiwar Movement, Turner Publications (Atlanta, GA), 1997, M.E. Sharpe (Armonk, NY), 1998.
Women on Top: The Quiet Revolution That's Rocking the American Music Industry, Billboard Books (New York, NY), 1998.
North to Canada: Men and Women against the Vietnam War, Praeger (Westport, CT), 1999.
The Secret Life of Colonel Tom Parker, Billboard Books (Broadway, NY), 1999, republished as Colonel Tom Parker: The Curious Life of Elvis Presley's Eccentric Manager, Cooper Square Press (Broadway, NY), 2001.
Last Suppers: If the World Ended Tomorrow, What Would Be Your Last Meal?, Lebhar-Friedman (New York, NY), 1999.
Just for a Thrill: The Remarkable Life of the First Lady of Jazz, Lil Hardin Armstrong, Billboard Books (Broadway, NY), 2000, republished as Just for a Thrill: Lil Harden Armstrong, First Lady of Jazz, Cooper Square Press (Broadway, NY), 2001.
Dixie Chicks: Down-Home and Backstage, Taylor (Lanham, MD), 2000.
I'm So Sorry: The Stories behind 101 Very Public Apologies, Lebhar-Friedman Books (New York, NY), 2000.
Faith Hill: Piece of My Heart, St. Martin's Griffin (New York, NY), 2001.
Ashley Judd: Crying on the Inside, Schirmer Trade Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Natalie Portman: Queen of Hearts, ECW Press (Toronto), 2002.
Nicole Kidman, Citadel Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Russell Crowe: The Unauthorized Biography, Schirmer Trade Books (New York, NY), 2003.
The Fabulous Vaughn Brothers: Jimmie and Stevie Ray, Taylor Trade Publishing (Lanham, MD), 2004.
Go, Girl, Go! The Women's Revolution in Music, Schirmer Trade Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Mojo Triangle: Birthplace of Country, Blues, Jazz, and Rock 'n' Roll, Schirmer Trade Books (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Mardi Allen) The Basics of Adoption: A Guide for Building Families in the U.S. and Canada, Praeger (Westport, CT), 2006.
Yellow Fever: A Deadly Disease Poised to Kill Again, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 2006.
(With Mardi Allen) Adoptive and Foster Parent Screening: A Professional Guide for Evaluations, Routledge (New York, NY), 2007.
Also author of the screenplay Dazzle, 1993. Contributor of short stories, poetry, and articles to periodicals, including Cimarron Review, Glamour, Cover Story, Penthouse, and Omni.
Journalist and author James L. Dickerson served on the reporting and editorial staffs of the Tallahassee Democrat and the Jackson Daily News before founding and editing the Nine-O-One Network Magazine in Memphis, Tennessee. In the same year that publication began, his first full-length book, Coming Home: 21 Conversations about Memphis Music, saw print. By 1989, Dickerson was concentrating on his career as an author and photographer, and he has since penned several books, most of them focusing on the Memphis music scene. His titles include Goin' Back to Memphis: A Century of Blues, Rock 'n' Roll, and Glorious Soul; That's Alright, Elvis: The Untold Story of Elvis's First Guitarist and Manager, Scotty Moore/As Told to James Dickerson; and Dixie's Dirty Secret: The True Story of How the Government, the Media, and the Mob Conspired to Combat Integration and the Vietnam Antiwar Movement. Dickerson has also cowritten two titles with Mardi Allen that address the process of adopting a child.
In the 1996 release, Goin' Back to Memphis, Dickerson chronicles the musical history of Memphis, beginning with accounts of blues artists such as W.C. Handy and former prostitute Memphis Minnie. He then moves through the transformation of blues into rhythm and blues, and goes into great detail about the rockabilly legends that recorded at Sun Records, such as Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. As a Publishers Weekly critic reported, Dickerson "seemingly" provides information about "every artist who has recorded in Memphis," ranging from Petula Clark to ZZ Top. The reviewer hailed Goin' Back to Memphis as an "engaging chronicle" that "sizzles with the energies that transformed American music." Mike Tribby in Booklist praised Dickerson's "highly readable, highly recommended style," while H. Ottenheimer in Choice concluded that the volume "will appeal to general readers interested in how the Memphis music industry fell apart."
In That's Alright, Elvis, Dickerson chronicles the life story of Scotty Moore, who played guitar on legendary performer Elvis Presley's first recordings and managed his career until Presley was taken in hand by Colonel Tom Parker. According to this account, Moore got very little financial profit from his association with Elvis, but eventually went on to manage recording sessions for other artists, such as Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, as well as The Band. Dickerson also discusses Moore's difficulties with alcohol and fighting, and provides readers with anecdotes about Elvis. Jas Obrecht in his review of That's Alright, Elvis for the Guitar Player noticed both "lighter moments" in the book and "sobering accounts" of Moore's difficulties.
Dickerson strayed beyond the music business for his 1998 effort, Dixie's Dirty Secret. In this study, he chronicles the history of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission, a state agency formed to fight the civil rights and antiwar movements through dirty tricks campaigns. The author presents evidence that the commission planted false and unfavorable news stories about people involved in the cause of civil rights, spied on investigations into civil rights murders, and set up money-laundering arrangements for unsavory elements contributing to anti-civil rights causes. "Dickerson does a good job of detailing the commission's ugly excesses," in the words of a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
Further diversifying his writing credits, Dickerson has cowritten two titles with Mardi Allen about adoption: The Basics of Adoption: A Guide for Building Families in the U.S. and Canada and Adoptive and Foster Parent Screening: A Professional Guide for Evaluations. Prior to beginning a career as a journalist, Dickerson was a social worker in the child protection field, and he draws on his experiences to write these volumes. The Basics of Adoption is a step-by-step guide for anyone looking to adopt a child, including nontraditional families such as single or gay parents. It discusses the process in the United States and the laws in many other countries where Americans often look to adopt children. Adoptive and Foster Parent Screening takes an opposite approach, explaining what to look for in prospective parents to determine if they will provide a safe and loving household, and is geared toward professionals in the child-care system.
Dickerson told CA: "I am an investigative journalist. My primary focus is on music history and American political history. I have little respect for writers who approach their subjects as fans or partisans. Music and politics are important but not as important as the behind-the-scenes forces that shape them. As a writer, I have been influenced the most by William Faulkner, Norman Mailer, John O'Hara, Bertrand Russell, I.F. Stone, and Mark Twain."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1996, Mike Tribby, review of Goin' Back to Memphis: A Century of Blues, Rock 'n' Roll, and Glorious Soul, p. 200.
Choice, May, 1997, H. Ottenheimer, review of Goin' Back to Memphis, p. 1508.
Guitar Player, July, 1997, Jas Obrecht, review of That's Alright, Elvis: The Untold Story of Elvis's First Guitarist and Manager, Scotty Moore/As Told to James Dickerson, p. 71.
Publishers Weekly, August 5, 1996, review of Goin' Back to Memphis, p. 426; August 3, 1998, review of Dixie's Dirty Secret: The True Story of How the Government, the Media, and the Mob Conspired to Combat Integration and the Vietnam Antiwar Movement, pp. 63-64.