Let me tell you a story so bizarre that you will not believe your ears. It's the story
of Jimmy Ray, a ridiculous 15 minute pop star who scored a hit with his single "Are You Jimmy Ray?
" in late 1997 / early 1998.
Sporting classic Nashville rip off Cowboy threads and a Lyle Lovett hairwave, you may mistake Jimmy Ray for a good old fashioned, gangly scarecrow of an Elvis Impersonator. However, our friend Jimbo was born and raised in East London, England. Upon releasing his first album, the self-titled "Jimmy Ray", somebody (I really don't know who) convinced him he was a born success. I would have to argue that anyone could tell that Jimmy Ray's longevity was debatable from listening to his album, which seemed to fuse together influence from as far ranging as The King himself, Wayne Newton and modern day pop icons like the Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys. Song titles included "Goin' to Vegas", "I Got Rolled" and "Sex For Beginners". Of all these gems, it was the album's first track, "Are You Jimmy Ray?", that became an instant hit, first in the UK, then over in the States.
Upon the single's success, Jimmy Ray made a music video for his new hit in which he gyrated like the King himself in front of a giant bus while his back up dancers (football jersey wearing african american women with ghetto booty to make Sir Mix-a-lot proud) got down in a choreographed spectacular of their own. Upon the video's completion, Jimmy Ray publicly declared himself the next Elvis.
The video recieved minimal airplay on MTV, and Jimmy Ray sputtered out of the public eye almost as quickly as he came. Few people I've talked to, even in the height of his popularity, were aware he existed. However, shortly after his one hit single started disappearing from the radio, I happened to find myself in Ceasar's Palace - The Las Vegas Casino. Shopping around in the FAO Schwartz I turned to find a tall, gangly Lyle Lovett looking man - It was Jimmy Ray himself, with two male companions, coming in to FAO Schwartz. I stood, amazed at the luck, knowing I had to be the only damned person in the room who knew who this guy was. A friend and I had caught his video in the wee hours of the morning on MTV months earlier, and had been able to follow the rise and fall of this ridiculous man in depth. I could hardly control my glee. As I stood there, I witnessed as Jimmy Ray stole a bouncy ball from a small child and tossed it to one of his friends, and then went on to play with an animatronic teddy bear. Now, my normal policy on celebrities (if thats what you could call him) is one of abstaining from bothering them. After all, they are just people, just like the rest of us, and just so happen to be more recognizable. But this day, I realized, it must have been a sign, a sign that God himself wanted me to talk to Jimmy Ray - philosophize with Jimmy Ray - record the moment in some fashion, and gather more insight in to how this man could possibly be so incredibly...him. I searched the store frantically, looking for anything I could buy - a pen and paper, a disposable camera - that would somehow allow me to have evidence of this encounter. Finally I found one, a camera, and was ready to go, when I froze. It had occurred to me, at that moment, that I didn't know how to avoid beginning the conversation by saying:
"Are you Jimmy Ray?"
I didn't know what I'd say, but I knew I didn't want it to be that. Alas, I turned around, and he was gone. I had missed him, and that rockabilly brit would be gone from my life forever. He would never record again, and it was an oppurtunity missed. Am I upset about it, you may ask?
Nope. Not really. I mean, it's just Jimmy Ray, c'mon the guy's ridiculous.