Van Halen’s David Lee Roth w/ Top Jimmy

Greg Renoff:



Top Jimmy (born James Paul Koncek; died † May 17, 2001) was a Kentucky native who moved to Tacoma, Washington, in his youth. He relocated to Los Angeles at age 15 in November of 1970 — rejoining his mother, who’d moved to L.A. while Jimmy was serving a stretch in a juvenile institution. His first friend in his new home was the guitarist who later became known as Billy Zoom.

He got his nickname from working — and providing handouts — at a fast-food stand called “Top Taco”, located across the street from the A&M Records studios in Hollywood.

Jimmy began playing out in 1979, with makeshift bands often billed as “Top Jimmy and the All-Drunk All-Stars”.

At some point, while still working at Top Taco, he got a job as a part-time roadie for X in that band’s early days. At the end of a soundcheck, he sang a version of “Roadhouse Blues” by the Doors.[citation needed] That got the attention of the band and Doors member Ray Manzarek, who was then X’s producer. In 1980, backed by the surviving members of The Doors, including Manzarek, Jimmy sang “Roadhouse Blues” at a special event. That was the publication party for the Jim Morrison biography, No One Here Gets Out Alive, at the Whisky a Go Go. Jimmy also performed the song in X concerts as an encore. One such occasion came in 1981, with Manzarek playing too at L.A.’s Greek Theatre.

Chris Morris described Jimmy’s voice as “big, deep, raw, and thoroughly unmannered.” He’d previously compared the “leather-voiced shouter” to Howlin’ Wolf in Make The Music Go Bang!, a chronicle of the early L.A. punk scene. A 1984 article had described Jimmy as a cross between Wolf and Sir John Falstaff.