JAMES RICHARD DRIVER (aka Jim Driver) was born at Hare Park Farm, Crofton, in Yorkshire. It was a little over nine years after Hitler’s defeat by Audie Murphy and friends.
The Driver family were dairy farmers who dabbled in sheep production. They also opened up a field on their farm at Barden to visitors who wanted to play near the River Wharf.
September 30th, 1967 was the first day of BBC Radio 1. It was also the day the Drivers (Harry, Jackie, James, and younger sister Gillian) relocated to Stepaside in Pembrokeshire. Going to school in Wales meant James was exposed to rugby. Although not very keen at first, he soon came to appreciate the game. Though he still doesn’t understand the kicking rules.
Very Nearly a QC
By September 1972, James had become Jim. He headed off to college in Chelmsford, Essex, to study for a law degree. Due to a bizarre bet between third-year lawyers, Jim Driver found himself elected social secretary in his first term. (You might have to wait for the autobiography for details). It was now his job to book entertainment for the students.
The first act Jim ever booked was the Third Ear Band. Intensely boring but very high profile after providing the soundtrack to Roman Polanski’s film of Macbeth. The tickets sold out very quickly. No one could believe it: especially not Jim.
Law is very dry compared to the world of gigs and Rock ‘n’ Roll.(Although the pay is generally better.) Within a year, Jim Driver had dropped out of college to work for a record company. He found himself stuffing cardboard pyramids into LP sleeves.
Jim Driver Rides Again
After the label dispensed with his services, Jim worked in a variety of jobs. These included cleaning flats for a theatrical agency, bus conductor, washer-up in a Wimpy bar, grill chef, barman, pub manager, and very unsuccessful bouncer.
Jim Driver fell in with a Guru called Maharaj Ji and lived in an ashram in Emmanuel Avenue, North Acton, London W3, for three years. He meditated daily and became a strict-ish vegetarian. He has not eaten meat since, aside from one or two minor lapses, the last involving tandoori lamb chops at the Lahore Pakistani Kebab House in Whitechapel, on May 2nd, 1998.
There’s no accounting for Lawyers or Stinkers
Whilst managing the Acton Ashram (“House Father”), Jim was sent to a compound in Pakistan (though he was told it was India) to be taught the ancient art of Ayurvedic vegetarian cookery by a chef called Mr Murzer. On his return, he could cook a mean dahl and knew the Hindi and Urdu names of almost every spice.
Around the same time, he borrowed a book on bookkeeping from North Acton Library and set about reinventing himself. He started as a temp credit controller at Elizabeth Ardon perfumes in Mayfair, before working full-time at Cadby Hall, Hammersmith, for J Lyons, producing accounts for canteens at the Royal Courts of Justice and Alexandra Palace. Jim’s final accounting job was as assistant chief cashier for a venerable firm of solicitors in Holborn, near the City of London.
But bookkeeping turned out to be more tedious than law. (Who’d ever have thought that was even possible?!) And so Jim returned to music.
Thank You for the Music
Impressed by the Punk and New Wave explosion of the mid-1970s, Jim started Chelmsford’s first Punk club in July 1977. Every Tuesday in the function room of the Dog & Pheasant in Newmarket Road. It all came shuddering to a halt after a student stabbed a soldier following an Eater gig.
Simultaneously, Jim was promoting bigger gigs at Chelmsford Chancellor Hall until Sunday 07/11/77. Chelmsford City Council banned Punk from its lovely town after a skirmish during a Damned/999 double-header. The incident somehow made it onto the front page of the following week’s Chelsmford Weekly News.
Jim Driver moved to London and variously operated as a booking agent for bands and as a music promoter. Venues he worked at included John Bull (Chiswick); White Lion (Putney); Star & Garter (Putney); Half Moon (Putney); Cock Tavern (Fulham). Eventually, he ended up at The Cricketers, Kennington Oval. A more detailed description of those years can be found here.
Write Said Fred
All the time Jim was working as a student, bookkeeper, music promoter, and bus conductor, he wrote. First for the student newspaper in Chelmsford. Then for underground newspapers under assumed names (it seemed funny at the time).
At one stage, Jim earned decent money writing ‘confessions’ from ‘readers wives’ for girlie magazines. Until the repetition drove him crazy. Up until the year 2000, Jim estimates he started but didn’t finish 26 different novels.
In 1990, Time Out Music Editor Nick Coleman hired Jim to compile and edit the London listing magazine’s ‘World, Folk & Blues Music’ gigs section. He branched out to write about pubs, beer, Indian food, fish & chips and ‘lost London’. Four years later, he founded the independent book publishing company, The Do-Not Press.
Jim Driver: The Wilderness Years
Unfortunately, Jim failed to dominate the world of literature, so he returned to music promotion. For nearly eight years he organised Friday night events at London’s 100 Club. After being kicked out in favour of a younger promoter with a pay-to-play policy, Jim moved to the nearby Borderline Club. When The Borderline closed in 2019, Jim decided to semi-retire from live music and just put on occasional gigs at Margate Winter Gardens. Then the COVID Pandemic intervened and all events are on hold…
Jim has ghostwritten twelve works of fiction, published under various names (one of them quite well-known) and a number of non-fiction books, most notably a series on ‘how to write‘. His last work for a traditional publishing house was The Mammoth Book of Sex Drugs and Rock & Roll, which ran to two editions between 2001 and 2014 and is still in print.
Aside from writing a blog (this one) that generates death threats from generally US-based “freedom-loving” fanatics, Jim was (from 2006-2013) front-man and band-booker for The Rhythm Festival, the civilised antidote to mud-bath rock festivals. Sadly, Rhythm Festival succumbed to bad weather and worse management in 2012 and so exists only as a pleasant (or otherwise) memory.
My other websites:
You can contact Jim at the following email address (remove the gaps and replace (at) with the @ sign): jim (at) jimdriver.com
He doesn’t guarantee to answer every one or even any one, but he might.
The following is a pretty poor video he made about his life, concentrating on the music side of things: