Since Monday, friends, family and the the music industry have been mourning the death of Jim Green, who suffered a heart attack in his Olive Branch home at the age of 50. While casual music fans may not have known of his influence, Green was a critical player in bringing alt-rock bands, both local and national, to Memphis stages since he began promoting shows in the 90s.
Green's death was sudden and unexpected. "I just don't know what to think," Mike Glenn, a close friend and colleague of Green's for most of his professional career, told me on the phone this week. Indeed, all of us who knew him are at a loss for words.
As Glenn and I spoke of days when his former venue, the New Daisy Theater, was at the cutting edge of the burgeoning indie scene, the magnitude of what Green accomplished in his twenties there, and then elsewhere, began to sink in.
Memphis Flyer: It seems as though you were a mentor of sorts for Jim, back in the early 90s.
: He started working for me back then, and then he went to work for Mid South Concerts. He was fresh out of high school, pretty much. Taking some courses and stuff down at Ole Miss. He brought me a band called Ireland, and that was the first time I met him. And he was involved with Beanland and we did some Beanland shows together, and then he just came and sat in my office for three or four years. He and I did a lot of great shows together. It was right when the hair band stuff went away and the grunge stuff hit. Then 96X was on the air and Jim pretty much had his finger on the pulse of that stuff. We did everything from Oasis and Bush to Dave Matthews and the Big Star reunion. I could go on and on.
My last contact with Jim was when he was promoting a Tora Tora reunion at Minglewood last December. Did you guys have a hand in their early days?
My son and I ended up doing a bunch of stuff at Minglewood Hall with Jim. This year was gonna be our year. We had three sell-outs in January and February. Tora Tora were my first true success story, as far as local bands. We did a lot of their shows. I remember the first time Tora Tora played for me, there was a band called Quest out of Arkansas. A kid from Quest named Kelly Ranks came into my office in spandex and long hair and a friend said 'What is that?' And I told him, 'That's the future.'
And that was first hair band show I did. It was them and Tora Tora and Mistress. It was huge. At that point in time, I didn't realize how many good local bands we had in this city. And every weekend, if we didn't have a national act playing, I had a ten band local show going on.
Jim went on to work with Mid-South Concerts and Beaver Productions, then started his own company, Big Green Machine. What were some of his other accomplishments?
Jim had trials and tribulations, like we all do through our careers. We have bumps in the road. When he opened up Snowden Grove for the first couple years, it was the place to go see country. He had a few rock bands too, but it was the
place to go see your top tier country acts.
He had an eye and an ear for quality, didn't he?
He tipped me off on a few things. I remember doing Dave Matthews, before he was well known. I had the Cowboy Junkies playing the night before. And he calls me and says, 'I've got this band, Dave Matthews, seems to be heating up in the college circuit. maybe we ought to try 'em. It's not a lot of money.' I said, ' How much is it?' He said, '750 bucks'. I figured I'd make enough for that just on T-shirt sales from the Cowboy Junkies, so I said 'Go ahead and do it.' It sold out and I went home. Then I got a phone call from Jim, who said, 'The manager wants to do a second show tonight, and I said, 'Done!' And I went back and watched the show. It was incredible. He was a breath of fresh air.
A celebration of Jim Green's life will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, June 8, at Memorial Park. The service will be live-streamed at memorialparkonline.com. Masks will be available. Visitation will be from 4-6 p.m. Sunday, June 7, and from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, June 8. Donations in Jim Green's memory can be made to the Tunica Humane Society or the Jim Green Music Scholarship Fund at the University of Memphis.