James "Jimmy" Bowen (born 30 November 1937, Santa Rita, New Mexico) is an American record producer and former pop music performer. Bowen is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and holds an MBA with honors from Belmont University. He presently lives with his wife Ginger in Phoenix, Arizona.
Bowen is responsible for bringing Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood together. He is also responsible for teaming Nancy up with Mel Tillis for their album, Mel & Nancy.
Bowen was born in Santa Rita, New Mexico. His family moved to Dumas, Texas, when he was eight years old. He began as a teenage recording star in 1957 with "I'm Stickin' With You," originally the flip side of the hit record "Party Doll" by Buddy Knox, but ultimately a Top 20 recording on its own, peaking at No. 14 on Billboard's pop chart. Bowen's version sold over one million copies, and was awarded a golddisc. Bowen's singing career, however, did not take off as well as that of Knox, his partner in the Rhythm Orchids, and ultimately he abandoned a singing career, choosing to stay in the production end of the music industry.
In the early 1960s, in Los Angeles, California, he bucked the 1960s rock phenomenon when Frank Sinatra hired him as a record producer for Reprise Records, and Bowen showed a strong knack for production, getting chart hits for Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bert Kaempfert and Sammy Davis, Jr., regarded as too old-fashioned for the sixties market. He also produced Dino, Desi & Billy.
In mid-1968 Bowen launched an independent record label, Amos Records, which lasted until 1971. Leaving Los Angeles for Nashville, Tennessee, Bowen became president of a series of record labels, and took each one to country music preeminence. His success stories during the second half of the 70s included Glen Campbell, Kenny Rogers, Hank Williams, Jr., The Oak Ridge Boys, Reba McEntire, George Strait, Suzy Bogguss, Kim Carnes and Garth Brooks in the 1980s. Bowen also revolutionized the way music was recorded in Nashville, introducing digital technology and modernizing the way instruments such as drums, for example, were recorded and mixed.
In 1988 Bowen founded a label called Universal Records (not to be confused with the current Universal Records), which he sold to Capitol Records a year later.
Bowen produced his first movie soundtrack in 1970, for Vanishing Point, which was released in 1971. That soundtrack contains three songs which he composed, as well as music from the band "Mountain" and from Big Mama Thorton. The three Bowen pieces are an incidental theme called Love Theme, credited to Jimmy Bowen Orchestra, and two others, Super Soul Theme and the hard-rock piece Freedom of Expression, credited to The J.B. Pickers. Other soundtracks include the movies Smokey and the Bandit II (1980), The Slugger's Wife (1985), and the soundtrack of the theater play Big River (1988).
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