About

Jim Neversink was born Michael James Whitehead in Durban, South Africa in 1969.

He began playing the guitar in 1988, after he accidentally blew his left eye out with a blank .22 bullet. Doctors performed a series of seven operations and he was told that he needed to “look down” for six weeks so that the retina would attach itself to the eye again.

Look down… at what?

Timothy Platten was a school friend who could play the guitar. Jim asked to borrow his guitar (to look down at for six weeks) and Tim kindly agreed. He taught Jim a few chords in the bargain. Jim can remember saying: “Hey man, this is hard! I’m giving this thing back to you as soon as six weeks are up!”

But the rest, as they say, is history: Jim held onto the instrument for several months until his father, the late Geoff Whitehead, bought him his own guitar.jim_neversink_3

After a two-year stint in the South African Navy, Jim travelled to London on a working holiday. He practised the guitar daily and saw many bands that would later inspire him.

He met Benedicte Nielsen and moved to Denmark with her.

It was possibly the most inspiring time for him, musically.

He attended a Pete Bastian concert, which he says changed the way he saw/heard music.

“I was in a room with lots of people and Pete started playing and it was as though I was tripping. It felt like I’d been drugged and moved into a movie. I realised the power of music right there, and I have always tried to take people away from where they are, like really far away, through my songs.”

“It starts with me” Jim continues. “If I write something that takes my mind elsewhere, then it could take other people far away too. As soon as the song becomes too clever or too “chordy”, then it makes me and the listener think of theory and not of “landscape”.

At that time Jim also witnessed The Walter Trout band which would later inspire the more bluesy aspect in his music. And then, in the true manner of Blues, Jim told Benedicte that he needed to leave her to return to his home country and start a band.

Which he did.

Jim’s first band was called Famous Curtain Trick

Jim was on electric guitar and later lapsteel. The other members of Curtain Trick were Canadian born Nadine Raal on vocals and acoustic guitar, school friends Kevin “Og” O’Grady on drums and Paul “Roach” Cochrane on bass guitar.

Famous Curtain Trick released two albums: Famous Curtain Trick (EMI) and Land of No Cadillacs (Universal)  They were both nominated for SAMA awards. The band toured extensively around the country and even opened for Swedish pop band Roxette, as well as a six-gig tour with Canadian rocker Bryan Adams. (Read a Review of FCT opening for Adams) After the second show Adams was reported to have said “I think you are the best band I’ve ever had touring with me…”

This was a terribly difficult time for Jim

His (adopted) father committed suicide on the eve of his first Famous Curtain Trick gig (his birth father had died tragically before Jim was born). Jim was suffering from burnout. He was deeply depressed and feeling suicidal. He was financially broken and battling to get his band to the next level. This seemed to kick-start a series of events that would eventually lead to the demise of Famous Curtain Trick.

Jim was drinking heavily and was taking various prescription drug concoctions. Near breaking point, he decided to get fit, and started running on the beach every morning. It was during this period of recovery and beginning again – in 2002 – that he adopted the stage name Jim Neversink. “I googled Michael Whitehead, and discovered that there were quite a few moderately famous people by that name. I wanted a name that belonged to me, a name I could grow into on my own terms. It gave me a sense of freedom to realise that I need not be a prisoner of my past, but could shape my own identity – starting with choosing a name for myself. Read more

“I must say that, although I felt better, I wasn’t able to write any songs at this point.”

Jim volunteered to start teaching music to prisoners at Westville Juvenile Prison. Jim recalls: “I put an ad in the paper for people to donate guitars. Lots of people helped and we had quite a few instruments. But they only lasted a few weeks, since the wardens simply appropriated them and took them home to their children. I was invited to a prison chaplain’s house one day, and was shocked to see that he, too, had helped himself to donations: computers and instruments that had been intended for the young offenders to use.”

Jim was getting more and more disillusioned.

“It infuriated me, and yet there was NOTHING I could do,” Jim remembers. This helpless feeling, and a few other nasty incidents, led to a nervous breakdown and a stint in hospital.

AND THEN, THE SONGS STARTED COMING…

Slowly he recovered his equilibrium and started writing and recording songs in his bedroom. He sent these sad, dark songs to his two friends in Johannesburg: Gary Rathbone and Neill Solomon. The message that accompanied the songs was:

“This is my farewell gift to you guys, I’m saying goodbye and I’m giving up music.”

Neill and Gary were astounded by his songs and urged Jim to travel to Johannesburg to record them properly. Jim was not too excited by this prospect, knowing full well how long these things can take.

The other reason for travelling up-country was more compelling: Dave Potgieter sent Jim an article about a movie that was being made about bank robber André Stander. Dave suggested that Jim pitch the song he wrote about Stander to the makers of the movie. It felt like a break. But, as things usually turn out for loserbilly Jim, the film was way too “Hollywood” and the US director wouldn’t even consider using a South African song for a South African movie. Them’s the breaks, as they say.

Jim met engineer/producer Matthew Fink once he got to Joburg. Matthew loved his songs and said he’d like a crack at recording them. Many of the songs on the first album still have traces of the original recordings. Fink and Neversink decided that it would be impossible to re-create certain takes and so they were salvaged and mixed in. Listeners are able to hear crickets in Angel, as well as a plastic ruler being struck on and scraped across a table (a poor man’s percussion instrument, reminiscent of a schoolboy disrupting a boring lesson), an electrical hum in the guitar solos in Loser’s Locker Room and outdated (but perfectly in vogue) casiotone drums in Thin Reputation. Jim simply had to make do with what he had, which was a lot!

The album was released and self-titled Jim Neversink. Journalists, critics, the media and the public have been blown away by Jim’s songs: Jim Neversink was nominated Album of the Year by the Star newspaper in 2006. Also, surprisingly for an English album, it made it to Beeld’s Top Ten Albums list.

The original Jim Neversink live line-up was:
Jim Neversink on vocals, guitar and lapsteel.
Delicious Delores (a trans-Atlantic British Airways pilot-transvestite-transexual-trans-whatever) on drums.
Alan “Scotty” Lusk (ex Spectres, now with The Hip Replacements) on bass.
Gary Rathbone (ex Spectres) on guitar.

Due to other commitments, day jobs, visa problems and the likes, the live line-up changed to:
Katherine Hunt on backing vocals, bass, mandolin and violin.
Matthew Fink on acoustic guitar and accordion.
Warrick Poultney on drums.

Jim Neversink and the band played a series of gigs in and around Johannesburg and Cape Town. In 2005 Jim Neversink was thrilled at the invitation to appear at The Forum in London, opening for the legendary Sugarman, Rodriguez. Jim’s songs were coming thick and fast now and with the gig experiences, the songs were shaped into the arrangements which can be heard on his second album entitled Shakey is Good (2008).

Jim remembers how the title of the second album was decided:

“One night we played some new material and we didn’t play particularly well. After a song Matthew said:  “Jeez, that was a bit shaky”, so I said, shaky is good!”

The ‘incorrect’ (shaky) spelling for Shakey was a conscious decision.  Jim is a big Neil Young fan and, as fans of Neil Young know, he often goes by the pseudonym Bernard Shakey. ‘Shakey’ is a musical tribute to Neil. Another connection: “When Chris Barnard asked Louis Washansky how he felt before  his heart transplant, he said: “Actually, I feel kind of shaky.” This appeals to Jim’s sense of humour.

When asked about the song Even Elizabeth Klarer, Jim says it was written four years ago and is about South Africa’s most famous U.F.O. abductee. When Jim was checking his facts on Elizabeth Klarer a while ago, he noticed that Chris Roland was making a movie about her.

He tried to find out more about Chris Roland and the UFO movie and he was surprised  to see that Chris Roland was the same guy who had made the “Stander” movie. Jim sent the song to Chris and said: “Ok, so you guys didn’t use ‘Ride, Ride, Ride’ for Stander, but maybe you’ll want to use this one for Klarer” Jim got the following reply: “No promises, Jim” That seems to be the loserbilly story of Jim’s Life: No Promises.

Shortly after the release of “Shakey is Good” Matthew Fink and Warrick Poultney joined a pop outfit called The Black Hotels. Jim says he would prefer not to comment on this, but he wishes them well.

Jim is excited about the new direction he is taking musically

and the stimulating collaborations that he has been involved in. Recently, Jim has been performing with stalwart Katherine Hunt, Rian Malan, Lani Pieters, Timon Wapenaar, Riku Lätti, Piet Botha, Bacchus Nel, among others. Recently Jim has also been writing and composing for other artists: Jim wrote a song for TV personality Emmanuel Castis called Stay which is doing very well as a single. He is also writing with singer Angie Peach who sings backing vocals for Savage Garden and used to sing with INXS. Angie was also the lead singer for the band “Peach”. Jim wrote the theme music for a TV programme called Woes which is a Survivor-type reality series on Kyknet.

Jim Neversink’s current band members are Kevin O’Grady on drums. and Loandi Boersma (Cortina Whiplash) on bass and supporting vocals. Jim also works with Rian Malan on guitar and Timon Wapenaar on accordion and violin.

When asked why Jim Neversink does not appear on the bill at festivals he responds: “Festivals are exploitative. And the organisers just don’t get me. I don’t have the time or the energy to teach them my ways.”

He resides under his girlfriend Hanli Buber’s house in Johannesburg. He says she is considering writing her story entitled “The Boy Downstairs,” inspired by the line in Jim’s song “Mail-Order Russian Bride” …for the girl upstairs!

Jim is currently in pre-production with his third solo album, Skinny Girls are Trouble.

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3 Comments

  1. Hey Jim and Og. Your recording sessions look awesome. When’s the album out? (A bit out of touch down here in the Eastern Cape. Pse excuse me) Good luck. Cheers, Steve Matthewson

    • Hey Steve

      Once the sessions are over, Richard heads back to NYC to mix and master and then it’s a matter of getting the artwork, CD production and distribution finalised. Release will probably be in the spring. — Og

  2. Hey Folks,

    I’m Richard Lloyd’s publicist in the States and with photos of Richard being few and far between (and good ones being further and fewer) I was wondering if your photog might be willing to share a few photos of Richard? Lemme know.

    By the way: Richard had an incredible time in the studio with you all. Very hyped about what you are creating here. Best of luck!

    Many thanks / Jim


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