Sunday, August 30, 2009

Actor Ed Reimers and Music Producer Jim Dickinson R.I.P.

Ed Reimers

Ed Reimers, actor and television announcer, passed on August 16, at the age of 96.

Ed Reimers was born Edwin Reimers in Moline, Illinois on October 26, 1912. He started his career in radio in the Thirties, working as an announcer for several stations. During World War II Reimers served in the Marines. He was responsible for setting up radio communications and broadcasting to American troops.

Following World War II, Reimers went into television, becoming an announcer at KTTV in Los Angeles, California in the Fifties. He also worked in the movies as well. He was an announcer in Hard, Fast, and Beautiful (released in 1951) and played a prosecuting attorney in One the Loose (released the same year). Reimers would go onto work as a narrator on the nationally broadcast television shows Thunderbolt the Wondercolt and Crusader. In 1956 he was briefly the announcer of the game show Do You Trust Your Wife.

The year 1957 was a bit of a turning point in Ed Reimers' career. That year he guest starred on The Millionaire and Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre. It was also in 1957 that Ed Reimers first started doing commercials for Allstate Insurance. Reimers was the announcer for Allstate commercials on both radio and on television, appearing in print ads as well. In the television commercials, Reimers would cup his hands at the end of the advert and intone the company's slogan, "You're in good hands with Allstate." He served as the announcer on Allstate commercials for 22 years.

In the late Fifties Ed Reimers served as the announcer for the TV series M Squad and the various Warner Brothers shows, including Maverick and Cheyenne. In the Sixties Reimers appeared in the movies Sergeant Dead Head and The Loved One. He also guest starred on The Munsters as an announcer and on Star Trek in the episode "The Trouble with Tribbles" as Admiral Fitzpatrick. In 1971 he appeared as an announcer in the Disney movies The Barefoot Executive and The Million Dollar Duck. Reimer also narrated industrial films for Lockheed Missiles & Space Company and Aerojet-General Corporation. Besides commercials for Allstate, he also served as the announcer on commercials for Crest toothpaste and Skippy peanut butter.

Ed Reimers was one of the great television announcers. Many people have probably heard his strong, yet mellifluous voice several times over and not even realised it. It was Reimers who provided the opening for Maverick and Cheyenne that began, "From the entertainment capital of the world, this is a Warner Brothers television presentation..." He did a number of different commercials over the years. While Reimers rarely acted, when he did he also gave a good performance. While many people might not recognise his name, it seems rather likely they would recognise his voice.

Jim Dickinson

Music producer, pianist, and singer Jim Dickinson passed on August 15 at the age of 67. He had just had triple bypass heart surgery.

Jim Dickinson was born on November 21, 1941 in Little Rock, Arkansas, although he grew up in Chicago. It was there that he learned to play piano. He attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas before transferring to Memphis State University. He had intended of becoming a history teacher, but still kept music as a hobby. After his wife saw him perform shows with Memphis blues legends, she suggested he focus solely on music. He performed with The Jester on their song "Cadillac Man" in 1966, playing piano and singing lead even though he was not a member of the band. With fellow Memphians Sammy Creason, Charlie Freeman, Tommy McClure, and Michael Utley he formed The Dixie Flyers. The Dixie Flyers worked as session musicians, performing back up for various artists on Atlantic Records. Jim Dickinson played piano on The Rolling Stones song "Wild Horses" and with The Dixie Flyers performed on Aretha Franklin's album Spirit in the Dark. In 1972 he released his first solo album, Dixie Fried.

In the mid Seventies Dickinson moved into music production. He served as the producer on legendary power pop band Big Star's album, Third, in 1974. In 1979 he co-produced Alex Chilton's album Like Flies on Sherbert with Chilton himself. Dickinson produced the 1987 Replacements album Pleased to Meet Me, the 1990 Mojo Nixon album Otis, the 1999 Willy DeVille album Horse of a Different Colour, and many others.

Jim Dickinson also composed the scores for the movies Running Fence and Stranded in Canton. He was a musician on the scores of such films as The Long Riders, Southern Comfort, and Black Snake Moan.

In 1986 Jim Dickinson released his first album with Mudboy And The Neutrons, Known Felons in Drag. Together they would release two more albums. Starting in 1997 with A Thousand Footprints in the Sand, Dickinson released four more solo albums. His last album, Killers from Space, was released in 2007.

Over the years Jim Dickinson worked with legends ranging from The Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan to Ry Cooder. While most of his work was as a session musician and a producer, he would prove to have a lasting influence, particularly on indie artists. His work with Big Star and Alex Chilton solo alone would have a huge impact on indie rock. Although not well known to the public, he would have influence that reached further than many better known musicians.

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