Jackyl is a heavy metal rock band formed in 1987 by Jesse James Dupree, Chris Worley, Jeff Worley, and Jimmy Stiff. They were loud, energetic, and full-on RNR. Who can forget Jessie Dupree’s chainsaw solo for Jackyl’s hit song “Lumberjack?” Then there’s my personal favorite: “Dirty Little Mind.” All good stuff. Jackyl still tours today with Jesse and Chris and Jeff – and Roman Glick. But what about Jimmy Stiff? If you prowl online you won’t find much. Mostly you’ll see some version of “he found God and quit.” As a Georgia correspondent of LRI, I was recently able to chat Jimmy up and ask him. Was there a scandal? Creative differences? Why would he walk away from Jackyl while they were still creating, selling, playing? And what’s he doing now? …. Turns out he did find God, and he’s playing RNR again,in a band in which his wife Jewel Renee Stiff provides vocals, Christian Muncy’s on bass, Scott Vinson on drums, and Jimmy on lead guitar. The band is called The Apprehended Ones, they’re currently touring and they have a new album called “Break Away” but first I had to catch up with Jimmy on some of the old days….read on.
LRI: You toured the world and sold millions of records with Jackyl. What was that like?
Jimmy Stiff: Those were great days. I was a kid. I was young.
LRI: How did it all begin?
Jimmy: When I was born I had a guitar already. My dad and my granddad were guitar pickers. It was a done deal. When my parents got divorced and I moved down here I met the Worley boys. It was a snowy day when I saw three guys riding bikes across from my trailer park. They heard me playing Sabbath and came beating on my door. I thought it was the landlord at the time, mad about something (laughs). It was all destiny, man. I did it for a decade. We sold a lot of records.
LRI: In 1992 Jackyl’s self-titled debut album was released, eventually going platinum, by Geffen Records. Geffen is a big deal.
Jimmy: We told our lawyer back then that we didn’t want to start at the bottom of the ladder. We wanted to start at the top. He asked what we thought the top was and we gold him Geffen.
LRI: Were you ever star struck? Like, was there anyone you met who really impressed you?
Jimmy: I met Tyler and Perry. We toured with ZZ Top. It was beyond cool one day when Billy (Gibbons) called me into his dressing room. I met Ted Nugent, who was my hero.
LRI: At what point did you realize Jackyl had made it?
Jimmy: There were zillions of experiences. The Headbanger’s Ball, MTV was an honor. Getting to play with people we grew up listening to. Hearing our music on the radio.
Connie: How would you describe each of your old band mates?
Jimmy: Jessie was the business head. Chris was the technical one. Jeff was the drill sergeant with the drive of 10 men. Tom and me were the toxic twins, into women and chemicals, herbs and spices, powders…
Connie: We hit on some high points. What was a low point?
Jimmy: Walking on stage to open for Aerosmith and my guitar quit.
Connie: I’m thinking back to 1992. Jackyl’s debut album omitted suggestive elements from the album’s art cover as well as a song entitled “She Loves my Cock.” When a K-Mart in Georgia refused to sell the album you guys played an impromptu concert in front of the store and footage was used for the music video “I Stand Alone.”
Jimmy: We announced on the radio that we were going to be there, indirectly, and we played ‘til the law came and shut us down. They told Jessie if he could get everybody to leave without starting a fuss, they’d let us go, so he got the cop’s bullhorn and said, “Cops say we have to leave… see ya’ll across town…” Everyone left, we left, took the party elsewhere. Today, on the way here (The Georgia 120 Tavern & Music Hall), we drove by the scene of the crime, that old K-Mart. It’s not a K-Mart anymore.
Connie: Does being here, in Atlanta, bring back memories of that wild day?
Jimmy: You know, yeah. The video we made, I Stand Alone, we blew up a van for that. The record company gave us five grand to buy an old van to blow up but we decided to blow up our own van and buy another one with that money. We used dynamite. That’s me in the video driving the orange van. (laughs)
Connie: Did you have a hand in either of the two Guinness World Records set by Jackyl?
Jimmy: 100 shows in 50 days. We actually pulled off 101 shows in 50 days. The K-Mart incident gave us the idea of bolting things on stage and rolling with it. It worked quite well. After doing all those shows going back to a regular tour was a cake walk.
Connie: A lot of rumors circulated after you quit Jackyl. Most accounts credit you having “found religion” as the reason for you leaving. What really happened?
Jimmy: In 1999 I became a single dad. Something was missing. I quit drinking and started playing a lot of golf – which greatly improved my game! – Then I broke down one night, got on my knees and gave it to the Lord. I walked away (from Jackyl) and I was raising my son by myself.
Connie: Touring as a single parent would be tough.
Jimmy: Exactly. We did some good stuff. But all that stuff I did back then, I didn’t think about too much when it was happening. The Lord was training me up for what I do now. I sold tons of records. I sold myself. When you are a rock musician you are the product. Now I have to go out and give away a little Jesus and he takes care of everything else. With what I’m doing now, slowly it’s getting bigger and I really dig it. I’m ready to take the Apprehended Ones to the next level.