James Demopoulos passed away Saturday night on his 75th birthday. That statement means almost nothing to anyone. Please allow me to rephrase; Jimmy Damon passed away Saturday night on his 75th birthday. That statement will ring loudly to anyone who knew the Chicago lounge scene in the 70’s and 80’s. It will ring even louder to anyone who’s been to Navy Pier and noticed the street sign stating that all the buses are driving on the Jimmy Damon Way. There will be a lot written in the regular media about his career, which was enviable, and about his talent, which was legendary, and about how Bill Murray managed to lionize and satirize him at the same time. Most of that will be 100% correct and written by copy editors who never met the man. That’s not a slam on them, that’s their job. But Jimmy Damon was my friend. He has been for almost 30 years. The fact that I was playing in punk bands while he was prepping for Sinatra tribute shows never bothered either of us. We liked each other and that was all we needed to know.
I have built his web sites, his promotional DVDs, his press kits and much more. Some I was paid for, some I did when he needed a favor. The truth is I enjoyed doing stuff for him so much I probably would have done all of it for free if I could. He would never have allowed that, of course, he had pride as well as talent.
In 2010 Jimmy did a lengthy interview with WKNO in Memphis. In it he recounted many of the stories he’d shared with me and a few he hadn’t. I didn’t feel slighted in the least. I knew stories about his family and his early years that were never going to be in an interview like that.
Not because they were salacious. They weren’t. Simply because they were quiet and personal and those kind of stories make boring press.
“My kids liked George Burns” is not that interesting of a story. Not to outsiders, anyway. Which, to me, is fine. We all need to be able to keep some part of our lives to ourselves.
Jimmy and his family have always been good and kind to me. So while I, Marilyn, Dana, Bartolomeo, Antonio, Alexa and Juan will mourn the loss of someone we deeply loved, we will also celebrate the life of a man who truly enjoyed all the gifts God had given him.
Hopefully, when all is said and done, each of us can say the same.
I leave you not with some woeful missive, or tearful treacle, but with a video of a laugh that Jimmy loved sharing.
Thank you for allowing me to let him share it one last time.
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