Better known as "Jim Akins," the youngest of three children was born January 6th 1944 in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. Music was in his blood as his mom noticed at the early age of 6. His mother worked hard to see him start to study piano at the age of 7 as she sold hand made doilies to pay for his first piano.
He studied classical Piano up to the age of 10 when he asked his music teacher to buy him a piece of sheet music on "Don't be Cruel" by Elvis Presley in which she purchased and brought back from St. Louis, Missouri for him to play. He immediately learned to play and sing this song, while starting to put his own version of music to and many others at the age of 12. In the seventh grade he won second place singing and playing "Don't be cruel" in his first talent contest.
After this he started playing music with another local boy by the name of "Jim Boyer" in High School in which they became the best of friends. Jim Boyer asked Red Kohm to come bye Jim's house and listen to him play piano and sing. Immediately he asked Jim's mother and father if he could hire him to play with The Red Kohm Band at the age of 15. His parents agreed as long as Red would look out for him.
At the age of 16 he would travel to stay in St. Louis, Missouri during the week in the summer with his uncle and sometimes at his sisters so he could go down on Goodfellow Avenue to Club Imperial and play with Ike and Tina Turner. Ike as well as the owner of the club, George Edic, recognized his talents.
A man by the name of Angelo Triola wanted to sign Jim to record for his record label. But his father refused to sign the Contract because he wanted his son to finish High School and go to College. So Jim came back disappointed but finished High School and won a 4-yr. Scholarship to college in music but when he got to the door left.
So he traveled up the Highway with a friend and song writing buddy. Jim auditioned for Marlo Record's, which was owned by a disc jockey by the name of Ron Lipe, who was a close friend of "Bill Black".
In 1961 he was immediately signed to record his first record for Marlo Records on the A side "One Little Girl One Little Boy," written by Jim Akins and the B side "Floating On A Cloud," written by Larry Otte, another local boy. There was 10,000 records pressed on this record, which gained him immediate attention.
Jim traveled the road in1961 and 1962 with such groups as the "Rhythm Steppers" and "The Shades". During this time he went off the road, because his dad became extremely sick and wanted to tske care of his mother.
In 1962 he formed his own 3-piece band called "Jim Akins and the Teen's" in which he became known as "Mr. Rock-A-Billy," Singing and playing his electric piano, all over southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois.
His love for recording though took him back to cut his 2nd record "Walkin the road of love," written by Jim and "Answer From Heaven", in Memphis, Tennessee. In the Fern Wood recording studio with "The Bill Black Combo" and brass section arranged by "Bill Justis," released on Marlo Records. This record got him appearances on Russ Carter's "St. Louis Hop," at KSD-TV St. Louis Missouri and George Kline's "Dance Party," WHBQ-TV in Memphis Tennessee.
His third record "Finest Little Girl In Town," written by Jim and "Lonely Weekend," Written by Charlie Rich was cut with his own group with a moving "Rock-A-Billy sound." Jim's last record on Marlo was cut in Memphis Tennessee at the Fern Wood recording studio. Including songs "I'm Gone," written by J. Goff and "Lover-please," written by Billy Swan (All of Jim's Marlo records were recorded between 1961-1964).
In May 1962 when he came off the road he went to work for BiltBest Windows, a local window factory and played music on the side on weekends. Appearing with his band and about every nightspot in southeast Missouri and southern Illinois.
In the 1970's a club owner told him he was done if he didn't switch to Disco. But Jim did not listen, laid low for a while reformed a new group, "The Jim Akins Trio" and played Chateau Deville Lounge for 9yrs. on Friday and Sunday nights, In Bonne Terre, Missouri. Also worked another top club called "The Night Gallery," backing such top names as Crystal Gayle, Ray Pillow, and the list goes on.
In the later 70's his Rock-A-Billy sound teamed up with a country singer "Dave Baker" and Jim formed a new group called "The Countrymen," where they worked 3 nights a week for 5yrs and backed top names from Nashville Tennessee.
In the early 80's he meet up with a good friend "Louis Hobbs," which took him in to record again in 1983 of December to record on Lynn Records an old Gene Simmons' hit record called "Haunted House," A-side. On the B-side "I'm Still Your Fool," written by J. Foster and J. Morris. His second record released was "I'm Gone," re-done which Jim had recorded different in the early sixties on the A-side and the B-side was "The Same Old Way." His third release A-side "Is It Over," and B-side "Forever Sweet Sixteen," was written by "Lou Hobbs" and "Rich Stout."
Lou Hobb's also helped Jim put his first album together on cassette only at this time. Jim, Lou Hobbs, Narvel Feltz, and Bob L. Rice have appeared together on a few shows in the 80's and early 90's.
Jim also selected to be on the album "The Other Kings," on Revival Records in Oak Park Illinois. In 1980 the song on the album is from Jim's 1st Marlo Record "Floating on a Cloud." In 1987 Jim had a bad accident on ice, where he slipped and fell. He broke his left ankle in three places. He was sent to St.Louis, Missouri and operated on by a specialist to repair his ankle. He now has a Pin and Plate holding it together, but is doing fine. He recorded 4 songs on Videos in the 90's, which are still in the box yet.
Jim still try's to keep his group together, which his youngest son, Ryan Akins who play's drum's for him, but is known by his nickname "Tank." Jim plays a lot of shows by him-self and is still employed full time by BiltBest Windows in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri.
James D. Akins
880 Washington St.
Ste. Genevieve, MO 63670