Jimmy Work

Jimmy Work (March 29, 1924 – December 22, 2018) was an American country musician and songwriter best known for the country standard "Making Believe".

Work was born in Akron, Ohio, but moved to Dukedom, Tennessee, with his family at age two. He picked up guitar at age seven, and learned fiddle and songwriting by his early teens.

By 1945, he had begun playing professionally in Pontiac, Michigan, where many Southerners had moved to take jobs in the automotive industry. He appeared on local radio and published a songbook late in the decade, in addition to recording two singles for the Trophy Records label. His third single was "Tennessee Border", for Alben Records; his version was not a hit, but the following year, the song became a hit for Red Foley, Bob Atcher, Jimmie Skinner, and Tennessee Ernie Ford. Hank Williams also recorded the tune, but didn't chart with it.

Work then signed with Decca Records in 1949 and that same year appeared for the first time on the Grand Ole Opry and on Ernest Tubb's Midnight Jamboree. He recorded for Decca with members of Red Foley's band, but none of his Decca recordings were hits, and the label dropped him in 1950. Subsequently, he recorded for Bullet, London, and Capitol, the last of which released him in 1953. Signing soon after with Dot Records, he finally found chart success in 1955 with the songs "Making Believe" (somewhat overshadowed by Kitty Wells cover) and "That's What Makes the Jukebox Play". He played a few concerts with Elvis Presley that year.

Later in the 1950s his fortunes in music declined, and he began working in real estate. He cut a few singles in 1959 for All Records and continued to write songs, working for Acuff-Rose.

Bear Family Records began reissuing Work's recordings in 1986.

He returned to Dukedom in the 1980s to retire from music. He worked as a millwright at the Goodyear plant in Union City, Tennessee, for several years before fully retiring.

Work died on December 22, 2018, at the age of 94. He lived in Dukedom with his wife.

Birth and Death Data: Born March 29, 1924 (Akron), Died December 22, 2018

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1949

Roles Represented in DAHR: vocalist, guitar, composer, lyricist

= Recordings are available for online listening.
= Recordings were issued from this master. No recordings issued from other masters.

Recordings

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor D9VB-0852 10-in. 2/2/1949 Tennessee border Cecil Campbell ; Tennessee Ramblers (Cecil Campbell) String band, with male vocal solo composer  
Victor D9VB-1507 10-in. 5/17/1949 Tennessee Border - No. 2 Homer and Jethro Male vocal duet, with string band composer  
Victor D9VB-2702 10-in. 11/29/1949 Paper roses Cecil Campbell ; Tennessee Ramblers (Cecil Campbell) Male vocal solo, with string band composer  
Columbia CCO5017 10-in. 2/6/1949 Tennessee border Bob Atcher Male vocal solo, with string band composer, lyricist  
Decca NA 162 4/29/1949 Bluegrass ticklin' my feet Tennessee Border Boys, The ; Jimmy Work vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca NA 163 4/29/1949 Please don't let me love you Tennessee Border Boys, The ; Jimmy Work vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CIN 6 8/10/1949 I would send roses (but they cost too much) Tennessee Border Boys, The ; Jimmy Work vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CIN 7 8/10/1949 Surrounded by water and bars Tennessee Border Boys, The ; Jimmy Work vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CIN 8 8/10/1949 Smokey mountain moon Tennessee Border Boys, The ; Jimmy Work vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  
Decca CIN 9 8/10/1949 Who's been here since I been gone Tennessee Border Boys, The ; Jimmy Work vocalist, instrumentalist, guitar  

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Work, Jimmy," accessed February 27, 2024, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/211211.

Work, Jimmy. (2024). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved February 27, 2024, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/211211.

"Work, Jimmy." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2024. Web. 27 February 2024.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/211211

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