Jimmy Dunning was born in Liverpool, the 4th child in a family of six. His father was a sailor and his mother worked in a factory. She was very influential in his musical career. She used to whistle or sing tunes while he practiced the chords on the guitar. Jimmy had always loved music but when he was about 15, he was suddenly inspired to play the guitar. When his friends used to call for him, he would not go out with them but stayed in his room practicing on his guitar which had been given to him by his uncle Stan.
The area he came from was very much influenced by Country and Western music: Hank Williams and Jimmy Rogers etc. He took guitar lessons from Eric Parr whom he greatly admired and who introduced him to the playing of Django Reinhardt, the French gypsy jazz guitarist.
Jimmy used to sit in the corner in a pub strumming on his guitar and swapping choruses on jazz tunes with his mate Johnny Slater. They would play at weekends in a pub, The Mediterranean, or “Kitty’s” as it was called, which was a hotbed for local talent – musicians of all types. Some wonderful talent was spawned there. There was no question of being paid: it was just the sheer enjoyment of the music and the competition.
Jimmy played with various groups including Ralph Walters and the ‘Dusty Road Ramblers’. In the early days they often used to have to catch a bus to a gig with guitars, amplifiers, double bass and drums – the bus conductors used to love them!
Jimmy lived in South Africa for a time and was the lead guitarist and a singer with South Africa’s no. 1 band ‘The Bats’. He has played all over the UK and abroad. Nearer to home he has played in the Willows Folk Club, Arundel and various pubs and clubs in Sussex, Surrey and Hampshire, always playing as many of his own songs as possible. He wrote two ‘A’ side singles, “Golden Days” for Tom Jones and “Baby We Can’t Go Wrong” for “The Cilla Black Show” on television.
Jimmy lived in Sussex with his wife Jeannie. His children are Alice, Jonathan, Roger, Laura and Mary, also Shaun, who lives in South Africa. He played each Thursday in The Murrell Arms, Barnham right up until he died.