May 13, 2017 – Jimmy Copley was born in London on December 29, 1953.
Jimmy started playing drums at the age of 5 years old, accompanying his Mother’s (Nina) Jazz piano at parties. Jimmy turned professional joining the band ‘Spreadeagle’ who had just signed to Charisma Records and performed live, opening for various headlining acts such as ‘Genesis’, ‘Lindisfarne’ and ‘Audience’. Jim recorded the Spreadeagle album ‘The Piece of Paper, produced by Kinks and Who producer: Shel Talmy.
Later on, Jimmy formed the band ‘UPP’ with Andy Clarke and Stephen Amazing and whilst rehearsing with UPP at Leslie Copley’s ‘Underhill Studios’ Jeff Beck heard them and immediately took them into ‘Escape Studios’ and recorded the debut album for CBS Records entitled ‘UPP’ which Jeff Beck not only played on but also produced. UPP toured Europe and the UK with Beck, Bogart & Appice and in 1976 went on to record a second album entitled ‘This Way UPP’ produced by Hall & Oates producer ‘Chris Bond’ which also featured Jeff Beck and Tom Scott on sax.
During the summer of 1976 Jimmy toured the USA with Jeff Beck.
Turning to session work for much of the 80’s & 90’s, Jimmy worked with many renown artists such as Graham Parker, Ian Gillan, Paul Young, Killing Joke and in 1987 Jimmy joined Go West and recorded and toured extensively with them including a USA tour as special guests for Tina Turner. In 1989 Jimmy was invited to join ‘Tears for Fears’ for their massive ‘Seeds of Love’ world tour. After this Jimmy teamed back up with close friend Jeff Beck to record for the Jimi Hendrix tribute album ‘Manic Depression’ which also featured ‘Seal’ and Pino Pallidino on bass, this work achieved a Gold album in the USA.
Jimmy later worked with the ‘Pretenders’ and recorded the album: ‘Last of the Independents’ as well as recording two albums with Curt Smith (Tears for Fears), Jimmy then recorded an album for songwriter ‘Martin Page’.
During 1988 Jimmy teamed up with Japanese guitar legend ‘Char’ for recording and touring and in 1991 with Char formed the band ‘Psychadelix’ which also featured close friend and former Go West band member Jaz Lochrie on bass and recorded four albums. First album ‘Psychadelix’ ”Psychadelix two’ ‘Stand’ and ‘Smoky’.
During 1995 Jimmy joined the ‘Paul Rogers Band’ also featuring Jaz Lochrie and Paul Whitehall, touring the world and recording three albums ‘Now’, Electric’ and ‘The Lorelley tapes live’
In 1996 Jimmy performed live with Char for his ‘twentieth anniversary’ which also featured Herbie Hancock bassist ‘Paul Jackson’. Jimmy then co-wrote and produced the ‘Sacred Hills’ album with Char in his hometown of Bath.
During 2000 Jimmy worked with Black Sabbath legend Toni Iommi recording tracks for his solo album entitled ‘Iommi’ featuring Henry Rollins on vocals.
Jimmy continued to work, write, record and perform with Char from 2001, 2002, and 2003.
During 2003 former Whitesnake guitarist ‘Bernie Marsden’ invited Jimmy to join and form the band ‘M3’ also featuring former Whitesnake members Micky Moody and Neil Murray and Magnum’s keyboard player Mark Stanway and Vocalist Stefan Berggren. Jimmy has toured with M3 extensively as well as recorded live albums and DVD’s.
In 2004 Jimmy recorded with Iommi again and one time Deep Purple bassist/vocalist Glen Hughes for the album ‘The Dep Sessions’. During this period Jimmy also recorded Bernie Marsden’s solo album ‘Stacks’.
During 2005 Jimmy was invited to join Magnum and continued to be with Magnum for the rest of his life. Jimmy also recorded the Magnum DVD ‘Livin the Dream’ which was live at the Astoria in London recorded Magnum’s latest album and DVD entitled ‘Princess Alice and the Broken Arrow’ due for release in March 2007 with a major tour which followed in April 2007.
He was known as the master of the open-handed drumming technique, which involves not crossing hands when playing the high hat and snare drum simultaneously. This allows players to play more freely and also to incorporate more melodic motifs to songs.
In 2008 Jimmy recorded his first Solo Album “Slap My Hand” which featured an impressive line-up of his previous recording buddies including Jeff Beck, Pino Palladino, Peter Cox, Micky Moody, Bernie Marsden, Neil Murray, Dino Bapiste, Ian Jennings, Paul Spong, Chris White, Mark Stanway, Mo Birch, Char, Paul Jackson, Sussane Loeser and Steve Evans.
Jimmy joined Manfred Mann’s EarthBand in late 2007 and continued recording and touring with them until his death.
He was diagnosed with leukemia in 2015 and after a bone marrow transplant relapsed. He decided to discontinue chemo therapy for a more humane exit.
Copley’s kindness showed even in his final days, when, according to the University Hospital Bristol, his hospital room was transformed into a temporary recording studio so that he and friends could record an EP to benefit the Bristol Haematology and Oncology Centre and Royal United Hospital in Bristol.
In addition to Copley, the EP Psyche Funk features Anthony Head, Robert Hart of Bad Company, Chris White of Dire Straits, and Charlie Jones (who played with Robert Plant and Page and Plant.)
“I’m making the EP to give something back to the wonderful people at the NHS wards that have treated me,” Copley said. It gave me something to aim at during the dark days. I feel good about leaving some new music behind.”
He died on May 13, 2017 at the age of 53.