Don’t Worry ‘Bout The Bear


The inside story of Big Bear Records boss Jim Simpson’s 60 years and counting in the music business

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‘This has to be one of the best autobiographical reads out there right now.’ – Simon Spillett, Jazz Rag


Jim Simpson of Big Bear Records has been involved in the music business for nearly 60 years, as musician, bandleader, promoter, record producer, festival director, manager, journalist and photographer. In his new book Don’t Worry ‘Bout The Bear, written with Ron Simpson, he spills the beans on some of the many memorable experiences he’s had in that time.


In his candid, constantly surprising, frequently amusing and occasionally shocking account you will encounter the joys and difficulties of managing Black Sabbath or of running a jazz festival in sun-kissed, crime-ridden Marbella. At home in Birmingham meet some of the characters who have enlivened 35 years of the Jazz Festival and read Jim’s take on the scandals that closed the city’s premier jazz club. Revisit the exciting Brum Beat scene, take to the road with some 40 of the best (in some cases, most eccentric) American bluesmen of the 1970s, encounter the Blues Brothers Band in surprising places and enjoy Jim’s tributes  to some of the great names in British jazz, such as Humphrey Lyttelton and Kenny Baker, with whom he worked closely.


Don’t Worry ‘Bout The Bear  sees Jim rubbing shoulders with the following:

  • Ozzy Osbourne, and his Black Sabbath bandmates, in three chapters detailing Jim’s management of their early career
  • Led Zeppelin drummer and Jim’s former bandmate John Bonham
  • Beatles guitarist George Harrison
  • Chuck Berry, and the story behind his number one hit My Ding-A-Ling
  • An encounter with David Bowie in Highgate Cemetary
  • Photographing Little Richard
  • A trip to the casino with Virgin Records supremo Richard Branson
  • Nina Simone, at her irascible best
  • Pioneering DJ and trendsetter John Peel, and how his nickname for Jim ended up sticking
  • The twin giants of modern jazz trumpet, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie
  • Revered and feared music mogul Don Arden
  • Fever singer Peggy Lee
  • I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue presenter and esteemed jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton
  • Traffic and Spencer Davis Group singer Steve Winwood
  • The godfather of modern Chicago blues, Muddy Waters
  • Bumping into The Blues Brothers band in rural Spain
  • A difference of opinion with fifties heartthrob Marty Wilde
  • The story of how The Moody Blues got their name


Along with many other names which will be more than familiar to aficionados of American blues and mainstream jazz, including Tommy Tucker, Mickey Baker, Willie Mabon, Kenny Baker, Clark Terry, Lightnin’ Slim, George Melly, Val Wiseman, Bruce Adams, Annie Ross, Digby Fairweather, and more


Not to mention the story of how he didn’t quite end up propping up the bar and setting the world to rights with Marvin Gaye at a seaside resort in Belgium…


Praise for Don’t Worry ‘Bout The Bear:


‘This is the best book on British music I’ve read for a very long time.’ – Andrew Liddle, Yorkshire Times


‘…must surely be on every jazzer’s Christmas list – if you can wait that long, that is. My suggestion is that you put it on your tomorrow list.’ – Lance Liddle, Bebop Spoken Here


‘As a musician, bandleader, promoter, record producer, festival director, manager, journalist and photographer, Don’t Worry ‘bout the Bear is a fitting record of a Birmingham legend.’ – John Lamb, Chamberlink


‘A great read for blues, jazz and rock fans.’  Tony Burke, Morning Star


‘This book gives an interesting and varied look upon (Jim’s) life and music from the 1950s up until today. The book….is filled with great photos which Jim has taken most of himself.’ – Hans Schweitz, Jefferson (Swedish music magazine)


‘…a tale of fortunes found and lost, impossible optimism and moments of musical magic…’ – Stuart Constable, Living Blues


‘A more than fantastic book about the greatest artists from the blues, jazz, rock and roll, Big Bear Records and Jim’s separate experience with Black Sabbath.’–


Advertised price of £19.95 includes cover price of £17.95 plus £2 postage to UK addresses.

Additional information

Weight 501 g