Michael Lipton’s Remarks about Jim McCoy when giving the first “Spirit” award to Jim at the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame ceremonies on Saturday night, November 21, 2009:
“This year, the WV Music Hall of Fame is introducing a new award. There are many musicians who have had a performing and recording career but who also have distinguished themselves and made their mark in other ways. We decided to call this a “spirit” award and in so many ways, our first recipient, Joltin’ Jim McCoy, personifies the unique spirit of West Virginia.
When Jim was growing up in Berkeley Springs, it didn’t take him long to figure out that cutting timber with a crosscut saw was not his calling. I believe he told me it was way too much work…
A true musician
So, he went over the mountain to Winchester, VA, where he began a career that would take him from a DJ and a bandleader to an entrepreneur who started three record labels, a publishing company, and one of the finest and most serious honky-tonks in West Virginia.
Perhaps Jim’s best story is the one about the young gal who came into the radio station and wanted to sing wtih his band. Then – as now – Jim will give just about anyone a turn on the bandstand. As luck would have it, this gal was named Patsy Cline and Jim became the leader of her first band.
Jim’s career has revolved around his love for country music. He’s a singer and a songwriter whose written some fine songs, but as much as anything else he’s a fan. And that honest-to-god love for music earned him lifelong friends. It also led to him being inducted in the National Traditional Country Music Hall of Fame in Iowa, in 2006.
We all know the “rest of the Patsy Cline story” – her fame and her tragic death – which also took the life of one of this year’s inductees, Hawkshaw Hawkins. Patsy never forgot Jim’s kindness. And neither did her husband, Charlie Dick, who has been a close friend of Jim’s for more than 40 years. Jim’s band played at their wedding and he was one of Patsy’s pallbearers. Charlie was unable to be here tonight but sent his best wishes and congratulations.
Jim’s love of country music and West Virginia inspired him to start his own “West Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame” in 1999. His Hall of Fame is located in the back room of the Troubadour and includes plaques honoring each inductee. Come to think of it, I very well may have pinched the Hall of Fame idea from Jim.
For years, I had heard stories about Jim, his days with Patsy Cline, his fabulous Troubadour nightclub and his self-styled “WV Country Music Hall of Fame.” I finally met him earlier this year and instantly felt like we’d know each other for decades. He truly is a man after my own heart. His life has been driven by a love for music and he’s created his own magical world at his Troubadour Park – his own “Hillbilly Neverland.”
The Troubadour is perched on a ridge top outside of Berkeley Springs on his family’s home place. It’s a gorgeous setting – where Jim can drink coffee and watch the sun come up – then turn his chair around and drink whiskey while it sets. The outdoor stage – whcih is just over the hill from the fully stocked outside bar and giant barbeque grill shaped like a revolver – was struck by lightning and burned to the ground on his 79th birthday. By his next birthday, he and his army of friends had rebuilt the stage and added a sound booth that’s wired to his recording studio – which, of course, is in a trailer.
His annual Labor Day Patsy Cline celebration attracts people from all over and is something you don’t want to miss. Make no mistake – Jim knows how to have fun. Charlie Dick was on the money when he said, “Jim McCoy is one in a million.”
I feel lucky to have met him – and I’m thrilled that the WV Music hall of Fame is honoring his accomplishments, his work – and, most of all, his spirit.”