248: Jimmy Fortune Podcast
In today’s episode of the ‘Finding your Summit’ podcast, host Mark Pattison, former NFL Player, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, and Mountaineer who has climbed the Seven Summits, talks with guest Jimmy Fortune, a Musician, Songwriter, and an American Country Music Singer from Nelson County, Virginia. He shares his story of how he joined ‘The Statler Brothers’, and wrote the song “Elizabeth” for the group. After ‘The Statler Brothers’ retired, Jimmy continued to perform as a solo artist.
- 02:00 – Jimmy says Mark has been such an inspiration for him over time, and he is so honored that Mark would ask him to share his story with the people here on this podcast.
- 03:50 – Jimmy grew up in Virginia, and he was number seven of the nine children. His dad played mandolin, and his mom sang a little bit, so all the kids started singing as well.
- 06:10 – Jimmy’s dad said he can’t make a living playing music, but he didn’t listen to his dad and just kept playing. Eventually, after the first year of school, he had his first band put together. They were playing in school PTA Meetings, High School Dances, and wherever they could play.
- 08:15 – Mark asks Jimmy about the path he undertook to achieve this success, as ultimately, he ended up getting in this pretty popular and famous band.
- 10:30 – On Thanksgiving in 1981, Jimmy got a night off with his friends as they were having a jam session. From there, he went for an audition, was picked to join up with ‘The Statler Brothers’ band, and flew to Nashville.
- 13:00 – Jimmy joined the band temporarily for about six months, which gave him around $36,000 a year, and also started giving him bonuses—post which they asked him to join as a full-time member of ‘The Statler Brothers’ band.
- 15:25 – Jimmy was doing cover music for so many years that he never tried his hand at writing—hence he was always learning other people’s songs.
- 17:20 – Jimmy reveals the story behind the origin of the famous song ‘Elizabeth’. He actually wrote a verse in the chorus of ‘Elizabeth’ and took it to the guys and played it for them the next day, and they said it was good and recorded it too.
- 19:20 – Jimmy sings the famous ‘Elizabeth’ song for the listeners.
- 21:25 – Mark mentions that the musical instruments, the engineering, the harmonies, and all the sounds that Jimmy can enhance, take something from the ground up, and then the end result becomes a number one hit.
- 23:00 – Jimmy did present the song with the voice how he wrote it. But then, Don, Harold and Phil picked up the ball from there and actually got everything in order.
- 25:00 – Jimmy says that he admires Mark for what he does. He was watching Mark’s documentary and really appreciates it.
- 27:30 – Mark says that in his mind, he will be playing the piano and all the other instruments that Jimmy had.
Three Key Points
- Jimmy says that he just followed his heart as to every time he would make a song, the main focus was to be able to play songs and play music. He had a daytime job at that time. He was a Service Writer at a Car Dealership and he also had a part-time job as a Janitor, where he would go to places that had a restaurant and ask them if they would allow his band to come in and play. For years, he was playing six nights a week, four hours a night, and playing on holidays all over Virginia, and Northern Virginia.
- In the early 80’s ‘The Statler Brothers’ band was a big name across the country, and Jimmy was able to step into this very established band. They had a bunch of hits going on, and in there, Jimmy developed his writing skills and he was able to have some hits. He asked the band if they would record a song if he wrote it. They said absolutely, they’d record it if the song was good enough.
- Jimmy says he knew how to sing songs as he was a singer before he was anything—and then he learned how to play guitar, and learned songwriting. He did whatever he had to do, but it takes other people to do what they do to get things to happen. There is publishing, recording, engineering—and there’s putting it all together with the harmonies and building it from the ground up.
“I haven’t done something because I’m trying to get more Instagram followers, or I’m hoping that there’s going to be a monetary payday. That was never in the picture.” – Mark Pattison
“I’m right in the process of writing a book and we hope to have it out by fall maybe this year.” – Jimmy Fortune
“My motto is that I’ve done more by accident than I did on purpose.” – Jimmy Fortune
“I attribute the success to my mom. She prayed a lot for us kids, and I know she was worried about me because I was refusing to say no to my dream.” – Jimmy Fortune
“I said, I’ll stay with you all until you don’t want to do it anymore, because it gave me such a break.” – Jimmy Fortune
“I had already had a melody in my head, that was a beautiful melody.” – Jimmy Fortune
“It became my first number one song, and it was the number one song for ‘The Statler Brothers’. It was Song of the Year for 1985 in Country Music.” – Jimmy Fortune
“I’m imagining as you’re playing this, I mean that’s kind of when you’re going through to have something somewhat polished.” – Mark Pattison
“Sometimes you have to have a break, and I was in that position for somebody to say Hey, this guy has talent.” – Jimmy Fortune
“It would mean the world to me if you’d give me just a little slice of heaven.” – Mark Pattison