Jimmy Martin (God save the King!)

Jimmy Martin was one of the funniest guys I have ever been around. I don’t think he was ever trying to be funny, he was just being Jimmy. Some would say, “ah, he was just always drunk.” Maybe he was but sometimes he was as serious as a heart attack.

I think Larry Perkins introduced me to Jimmy. I don’t recall the particular time or place or even the reason we all got together. In retrospect I would guess Larry brought Jimmy into the Custom shop at Gibson one day. I had a large black and white poster of Bill Monroe located on the wall in my bench area that Charlie Derrington gave me. It was signed by Bill. I think the vintage is around 1980.

Jimmy, after a short hello found himself gazing at the Bill Monroe poster. Within seconds, tears began a flowing and he started sobbing. I wondered what the hell was going on. 

Larry grinned and spit tobacco juice in a cup and said, “Jimmy, ya alright?”

Jimmy answered by not answering and wiped the tears away as best he could. I looked across my bench to look and see if my luthier buddy Phil Jones was seeing any of this. Phil had Sting and the Police blaring out of his boom box. He was busy working on a custom bass guitar for Sting.

Jimmy sniffled a bit before he gained his composure. He finally spoke, “I love that man.” He kept staring at Bill.

Larry asked, “Hey Jim, isn’t that Bill’s mandolin?”

Before I could answer Larry, Jimmy got excited. “Is that Bill’s mandolin? I know that’s his case.”

“Yeah, that’s the mandolin. I got to string it up for him.”

“Can I hold it, I gotta hold it Jim.” The King requested. He was like a little kid, he started tearing up again.

“Sure!” I said. I got ought the mandolin and handed it to the coon hunter. He was wearing bleached out overalls and had a red Budweiser ball cap on cocked over to one side. He held it like a baby. “I haven’t held it since it was broke up. That Derringer fellah fixed er’ didn’t he?”

“Derrington. His names Charlie”

‘Oh yeah that Charlie feller.” Jimmy mused.

I began to think that Jimmy reminded me of Earnest T Bass from the Andy Griffith show.

He held the mandolin for a couple more minutes and gently handed it back to me. “It looks like shit but the boy did a fine job fixin’ her!”

I placed the mandolin back in the case. Then I noted Jimmy was staring back at the Bill Monroe poster. The tears started rollin’ again.

“I loved that man,” he said, “and I still do.” It got so bad he pulled out a hankie and blew his nose. After a coupla honks he said, “Jim, Larry and I gotta go. I gotta get Johnny Cash and Tom T some vittles.”

You going out to lunch with them? I asked.

“Na man, them’s my coon dogs, hee hee. Let’s go Larry.”

They turned and started walking away. Jimmy spoke to Larry, That Triggs boy’s a pretty fine fellah.” Then he wheeled around and said. “I’ll be callin’ ya Jimmy.”

Those were his last famous words. “I’ll be callin’ ya.” and little did I know about my future friend Jimmy Martin. He called and called and called. More about Jimmy in other short stories...............

Jim Triggs        2/ 16/ 09