Jimmy referred to himself as the "oldest rock and roller around". Others often called him the "godfather of rock and roll". One thing is for certain, Jimmy was born to spend his life in the music business. He was a musician (drummer), band leader, booking agent, and ballroom operator.
He was introduced to rock and roll by a young, high school senior from Sioux Falls - Myron Lee. Jimmy was Myron's manager, booking agent, and mentor for many years. Together they formed quite a team introducing rock and roll into the ballrooms throughout the upper Midwest.
The combination of booking agent / ballroom operator allowed him to have access to the biggest names in rock and roll. He was manager and booking agent for the Trashmen of "surfin' Bird" fame. The list of those he brought to the Midwest reads like a who's who of rock and roll....included on the list are Buddy Knox, Buddy Holly's Crickets, The Ronettes, The Angels, Tommy Roe, Dickey Lee, J. Frank Wilson, Jimmy Soul, Conway Twitty, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison.
Jimmy operated the Showboat Ballroom in Lake Benton, MN, for 31 years. He helped countless new young territory bands get started and known. When asked by bands trying to make it tin the music business how the crowd liked them, his reply was simply, "Was the dance floor full of dancers?"
Musicians he helped along the way, ballroom operators, and anyone who did business with him will remember Jimmy as a man of honesty and integrity...his word or handshake were as good as any written contract. He loved music, and he loved the music business. He like to quote Frank Sinatra by saying, "I did it my way." The legend of Jimmy Thomas will love on forever.