From the college football stadiums of the South to enshrinement in the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York--- I'm Jim Weatherly and this is my story.
I began writing songs as a boy in a small town in Mississippi during the first decade of rock and roll in the 1950s, a path that would eventually lead to my being inducted into five different music halls of fame
As I continued to write songs during his youth, I was also excelling in sports, quarterbacking my high school football team to conference championships and statewide recognition.
I had a rock and roll band throughout my high school days and I was the lead singer for the group. Music and sports have always been my two greatest passions.
I became a scholarship football player at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, just half an hour's drive from my hometown of Pontotoc. I continued to play music during my college years at Ole Miss with my rock and roll band. I would perform with my group after football season and in the spring and summer, and we became one of the more popular bands in Mississippi and the surrounding states.
As a college sophomore in 1962, I was the backup quarterback on the only unbeaten and untied team in Ole Miss history. The Rebels were Southeastern Conference champions, national champions and won the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas in New Orleans that season.
It was during the 1962 football season that the University of Mississippi became a battleground of the civil rights movement with much turmoil surrounding the admission of the first black student, James Meredith. On September 29, 1962, a riot ensued to prevent the admission of Meredith. There were multiple injuries and two deaths that night.
I played two more seasons for Ole Miss as the Rebels continued their winning ways, and I also continued to write songs and play music.
After college, my band, the Gordian Knot, traveled to Los Angeles to look for a record deal. When that didn't pan out the band split up and I was on my own. I kept searching and searching for someone who liked my songs enough to give me a publishing deal.
After a tremendous struggle, I eventually found someone who loved my songs and promised to "push them through the sky." I then began to have songwriting success with several Rhythm & Blues artists who recorded my songs as well as country, jazz and gospel artists.
Gladys Knight and the Pips were the musical key to my success. "Neither One of Us," "Midnight Train to Georgia," and "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me" were all chart-toppers for the group. The first two of those were Grammy winners.
This is a small portion of an uplifting story of perseverance and my discovery of my own self-worth. Sometimes I can't believe it happened to me.
About the Author
Jim found his greatest songwriting success with rhythm & blues singers and country singers who recorded his works. Gladys Knight and the Pips had several hits with his songs. “Neither One of Us,” “Midnight Train to Georgia,” and “You’re the Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me” were all chart toppers for the group. The first two were Grammy winners. Gladys and the Pips recorded 13 of his songs. Jim has been inducted into four halls of fame - the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame, and the Ole Miss Alumni Hall of Fame. In 2013 he was recognized at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., during the annual "We Write The Songs" event. Jim lives in Brentwood, Tenn., with his wife and two children.