Jimmy Tutten grew up in Waldo, Florida, playing guitar and singing in Jimmy and the Rockets around 1961. One of the members of the band, Jim Garcia, later became a member of Gainesville band The Rare Breed. Jimmy is the owner of Redneck Trailers: Used trailers sold and repaired: (877)-642-1423, 2 1/2 miles west of Old Town, FL, 23306 SW Hwy 19.
We played a combination of rhythm and blues, rock and some country. I played at Bobby’s Hideaway six nights a week. I played a place called The Blue Eagle and for a long time too. It was out in the woods. They were country western people and every now and then you’d have a little ruckus out back. I did most of the singing and played the guitar also. I had a Fender and a Gibson, a Fender Porkchop [Telecaster] and a Fender amp.
Basically my group was a little bit different. We played a lot of rhythm and blues. I liked rhythm and blues and played blues on my guitar, a little blues and some rock. Jimmy Reed, we did just about all his stuff, “Honest I Do” and ”Bright Lights, Big City,” songs like that. Jim Garcia played with me for quite a while, then he graduated and left when he graduated school. He was a good guy, I liked him a lot. We were called Jimmy and the Rockets. We played up in Georgia, Daytona Beach, Ocala, at the Rancher [farming and ranch supply store], back in the back of it, we’d set up back there.
There was a club behind Sonny’s Fat Boy’s Barbecue, Night Life, owned by Bobby’s son [his father owned Bobby’s Hideaway in Waldo] and I’d sit in with the band. Ray Parrish, he played country, he was pretty well-known in the area and we’d sit in with each other in different clubs. Five or six years ago, he O.D’ed. That happened to a lot of guys that played in that area, I had a guy played lead guitar named Johnny Norman did the same thing, popped pills and drank liquor at the same time and his heart exploded on him. I didn’t mind drinkin’ beer every now and then but I didn’t get out on those pills; I didn’t believe in that. That’s why I’m still here.
I grew up in Waldo. First place I did anything public was the stage at Waldo High School around 1955, guitar and singing. From there we put a group together and played the Recreation Center. Back then I’d written a couple songs. We played Buddy Knox, Little Richard, Fats Domino, all the things that black people came out with, that rock ‘n’ roll. I liked that music, I always liked the beat of the rhythm and blues that black people had. That was my style, what got me started, was rhythm and blues that black people had. That was my style, what got me started, was rhythm and blues. Of course you couldn’t play that stuff every place you played. We did it every place we played, we usually had to play a lot of that other stuff with it.
We had about three or four hundred songs we knew when I finally quit. It is a lot of songs. But people would request those songs. Basically I’d get them off of records, play the records over and over, then you could go to the music store and buy the book that had the words in them It didn’t talk long to learn a song that way.
I used to go to 5th Avenue and sit in with the black groups there. There was a couple places I played, sit in with black bands, I knew pretty much all the guys that played music there, and they’d tell you “Put your back to the wall so you can see what’s going on in here, don’t turn your back on nobody in here, except us, we’re OK, we’ll watch out for you.”
Back then when I was doing that I had a Gibson, a burgundy Les Paul. That Les Paul weighed twice as much as that Fender “pork chop”, you stand up on the bandstand three or four hours with that Gibson and you’d know it. Now that Les Paul is in a hard case under the bed.
I’ve been in business ever since 1969, Texas Trailers in Gainesville, I started that company and it turned out to be real nice and real good for me and I sold it in the last of ’06 and moved over here.
I like to fish, it’s a good fishin’ area. I grew up in a place called Alto Lake, that lake runs into Santa Fe Lake and that runs into Big Santa Fe. If the water’s up, you can put in a boat at Waldo and go to Melrose.
Believe it or not I can sound just like a black person.
There’s a lot of respect among musicians, everybody got along real well together.