Monday, February 10, 2014

Touching Rock N Roll History, An Interview with Mickey Jones
A number of years ago I had the honor of interviewing rock n roll legend, Mickey Jones.  Mickey was the drummer for Bob Dylan on the Electric Tour, the tour that changed the world.  With all of the Beatles discussion as of late, I thought it appropriate to track this interview down, and re-post it.  So that all said, here goes, a blast from the past that touches Rock N Roll history.

Mike: Hey Mickey, I want to first of all thank you for taking the time to talk to me and give me some of your insights to the new movie The Fighting Temptations. Mickey, a lot of people have no idea who you are when they hear your name but certainly know you when they see your face. Can you tell us some of the roles you have played in television and movies?

Mickey: That is the life of a character actor. I have done roughly 80 films but most notably, National Lampoon's Vacation with Chevy Chase, Starman with Jeff Bridges, Dean Bang with Don Johnson, Total Recall with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sling Blade with Billy Bob Thornton and Tin Cup with Kevin Costner. I also did the main song in the movie called The Double Bogey Blues. It is on the soundtrack album as well. I've done about 400 TV shows but the best was the 8 years I did with Tim Allen on Home Improvement. I've done over 300 commercials but the most remembered is also the most aired commercial ever in the history of television where I played the big biker with the little old lady on the subway for Breath Savers.

Mike: You seem to be cast quite often as a character actor, playing specific roles, kind of the down and out or rough guy with a motorcycle guy kind of role, how close are those characters in real life to the real Mickey Jones?

Mickey: I do ride a motorcycle but I very seldom kill anybody in real life. I do play a lot of bad guys which are fun to do as a character actor but they are nothing close to my real life. In my real life, my wife and I are both Christians. I will say some certain words if they are right for the character but I will not take the Lord's name in vain even as a character. I did it once and have regretted it ever since. It was in the film Starman. I still cringe when I see that scene. Unfortunately, they is forever.

Mike: I noticed that you help host a motorcycle rally on a regular basis, what is that all about and what is the purpose of the rally?

I host a number of motorcycle events around the country every year for charity. The biggest event I host is The Mickey Jones CHOC Ride and Blues Festival. We raise money for CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County). I also host a ride in Cocoa Beach, Florida for ARC-Brevard. That is the Association of Retarded Citizens. October 25th I will be hosting the first annual Laci Peterson Memorial Ride in Modesto, CA. I just hosted G.A.M.E., The Great American Motorcycle Experience in Las Vegas, NV and I host The Sam's Town River Run in Tunica, MS. I love to ride and until September 19th of this year, I was the Celebrity Spokesman for Indian Motorcycle. On Sept. 19th, they closed the doors and went out of business.

Mike: You are in a movie that is doing quite nicely right now called The Fighting Temptations, what would you say are the central themes of the movie?

Mickey: I hope everyone will go see this film. Of the 80 some odd films that I have done, I think I am more proud of this one that any film I have ever done. There are no machine guns, no car crashes and no explosions. I usually cut 2 or 3 peoples throats before I get killed but not in this film. I play this redneck pig farmer who becomes the organist for the Beulah Baptist Church Gospel Choir. The is no foul language and no nudity. You can actually take your whole family to this film. It is hysterically funny, it will grab your heart and you will walk out of the theatre feeling like a million bucks. I can't remember the last time I walked out of a Hollywood film feeling like a million bucks. It stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyonce' Knowles and you will love it. It is all about the music.

Mike: Can you tell us what it was like working with the cast of The Fighting Temptations? And of course any inside scoop not commonly known would be appreciate, in a fun way of course.

Mickey: The cast actually became a family. I would sometimes go to the set just to see some of the gospel music even if I was not in the scene. I had to go see Reverend Shirley Caesar. They are the best gospel choir in the world. Another thing that happened on this film that I have never seen on any film I have ever worked on. There were days that the cast would pray, in the van, on the way to work. We all did this movie for God

Mike: Can you tell me some about how you got the part of Scooter and what it was about the character that attracted you to him?

Mickey: When I read the script and first went in to meet the director, Jonathon Lynn, I knew that I wanted this part. I have always asked God to put me in a film that would glorify Him and this was one film that I actually asked God to give me this job. I fell in love with Scooter and I knew I could smoke him. As a musician, there was no way that I could not deliver the goods. I also liked the fact that Scooter was a principal figure in the film. He was one of the Fighting Temptations. I hope the film does well because all of the principal actors, the Fighting Temptations, are already signed to a sequel.

Mike: It is unusual that a movie such a strong Spiritual backdrop be made by MTV. Did that surprise you after you read the script?

Mickey: I was a little surprised but because it is all about the music, I understood completely. I think MTV helped arrange some of the vocal artists in the film.

Mike: What was your specific interest in making the movie?

Mickey: First, all of us actors are always looking for work but when something comes along that you dream about, you jump at the chance.

Mike: I have read that T-Bone did a lot of praying and sharing of his faith on the set with the actors, even helped some of them become Christians? What was your thought to this and was it something that normally takes place when a Christian is in movie?

Mickey: T-Bone is an incredible person. I got to know him very well and it is true, his spirit covered the set and I am sure he brought some folks to the Lord. He was one of the ones responsible for the praying on the way to work. We talked and shared at lengths and I thank God for his presence and his friendship.

Mike: How did the producers and director respond to the Spiritual things, specifically related to Christianity that took place on the movie set?

Mickey: One of the producers, Loretha Jones, who was also one of the music producers was a blessing on the set as well and loved the atmosphere of Christianity that was present all the time.

Mike: I know from what you told me before that you had had an interview with Focus on the Family, a Christian organization, how did that come about?

Mickey: One night in Columbus GA while we were shooting the Gospel Explosion segment, I read the memo from our publicist, Cassandra Butcher and found that one of the press people on the set the next day was from Focus On The Family. I called her and told her that I wanted to do something with the Focus folks. I am a big fan of Dr. James Dobson. I spent about a half an hour with them doing the interview. Unfortunately nothing ever appeared in their newsletter.

Mike: Can you tell us some about your faith and relationship with Jesus Christ?

Mickey: I became a Christian when I was 14 years old. I got saved and asked Jesus to come into my heart at a Christian camp when I was in junior high school. Now, with that said, I lived a portion of my life in a way that God would not be proud of. I was in the world. God was always in my heart but I disappointed him many times. I have been married to my wife, Phyllis, for the past 23 years and I have tried to live the way God wants us all to live. Several years ago, she asked me, "Do you want us to be yoked together in Heaven?" My reply was, "What a silly question, of course I do". She said, "Well, you better get in the Book." I was heartbroken. I grabbed my tail between my legs and felt ashamed. Because of her encouragement, I have been reading the Bible everyday. I wake up early and go to my chair and lamp in our den and spend time with the Lord in the Book. I look forward to that every morning before I turn on the TV or even breakfast. I have almost read the entire Bible. When I do finish, I will continue to read it again. I'm sure I will do this the rest of my life. A couple of years ago we went to Israel and the Bible came alive for me. Now when I read, it is like watching a movie on a big screen in front of my eyes. It's funny, when we were in Caesarea, we were told the story of Cornelius, the Roman Centurion who summoned Peter from Joffa because he wanted to know about this Jesus guy. He sent 6 of his guards to fetch Peter and when Peter told him of Jesus, Cornelius fell on his knees and became a Christian. I was very moved with this story. When we got back home, I picked up my Bible the next morning and by Book mark opened me to the story of Cornelius. Believe me, that was not a coincidence.

Mike: A lot of people are critical of movies, but it seems as if movies are addressing spiritual issues more and more, have you noticed that and what are your thoughts on it?

Mickey: I am not thrilled with most of the Hollywood movies. I do not see many movies that are based on God. I saw Bad Boys 2 recently and I heard the F word 40 times in the first 5 minutes. I think that is a turn off to most movie goers. It is to me. I guess that is one of the reasons that I am so excited about The Fighting Temptations. I have people stop me on the street and tell me that they saw the movie and loved every minute of it. In fact, they are going to see it again because they want to take somebody with them. That is a good sign.

Mike: What do you say to the Christians and others who are critical of movies?

Mickey: It is not my place to judge others. I am only responsible for me.

Mike: How much of a responsibility do Christians have to be involved in the "Hollywood" movie making process, and is there presence really felt?

Mickey: As a Christian, it is a responsibility to stand up for our beliefs. I will never be ashamed to let folks know that He is my God. In order to continue to work, we must make some concessions but taking God's name in vain is not one that I will make. I feel His presence everyday.

Mike: There is a scene in the movie where the prison guards bring in the inmates and are holding guns, there is a comment by one of the characters that guns are not allowed in church. You are playing the organ and reach in your pants pull out your gun, set it on top of the organ and say something like, "Well somebody should have told me that." I personally loved that scene and the parts with you in them are among my favorites, including that particular scene. It seems as if some Christians are so critical of peoples actions without ever talking to them about those actions and why those actions might be wrong. That scene kind of illustrated that. I would be interested to hear your comments as to things of that nature in this particular scene and others that The Fighting Temptations seems to try and address; the attitudes of non acceptance of those who "are different", and areas where people in the church and those who don't go to church just don't seem to understand each other.

Mickey: I loved that scene as well. There was a line cut of the movie that I really loved but when you hear the line, you will know why it was cut. The additional line was, "You know, Charlton Heston played Moses, I just figured we was all on the same team." Paramount elected to remove the line because Charlton Heston had just announced that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. In order to be politically correct, the line had to be removed. However, it was a funny line. I own guns. A lot of people seemed to forget that our founding fathers wrote into the Constitution, the second amendment, the right to bear arms. It is not connected with the phrase, "in a regulated militia" either. Guns have saved more lives than have been accidentally taken.

Mike: While The Fighting Temptations seems to address issues related to the churches acceptance of those often forgotten about, those sometimes called, "The Lost, The Last and The Least" it is also done so with respect. What was the general attitude of how those involved with church should be approached in the character development?

Mickey: I think it is important to note that in the film that some are persecuted but all are welcome in the end.

Mike: You are an organ player among other things in the movie. As a musician myself it really looked like you were a legitimate musician? Are you or are you that good of an actor? Also if you have been involved in music in what ways have you been involved?

Mickey: This will be a fun question to answer. I spent 23 years in the music business. I have 17 gold and platinum albums on the wall of my home. I was the drummer for Trini Lopez for 8 years, Johnny Rivers for 3 years, Bob Dylan for 2 years, (I was the original drummer with The Band) and 10 years with Kenny Rogers and The First Edition. I play drums, guitar and a little piano.

Mike: (Note Added after interview) I must state that Mickey did answer the question regarding if he really played in the movie. Producer Jonathan Lynn made a request that I will honor along with Mickey. In other words you will have to see the movie yourself and decide if you think Mickey is answering. It is one of the Studio Secrets of this movie.)

Mike: One of the great things about this movie is it's incorporation of R&B, Rap, Hip-Hop, some southern feels, and even Blues and Gospel all forming music that is accepted and played in a church. How much fun was it making those musical scenes in the movie, and what lessons could the church learn about the incorporation of various styles of music in their worship services?

Mickey: No one will ever know how much fun it was to make this movie. Everyday was a new concert. I am not a big fan of rap but I fell in love with Zane and T-Bone. I would go in on my days off just to watch the Shirley Caesar Gospel Choir. I did not want to miss a minute of the wonderful performances in the film. I sang on a couple of the songs in the film. We had more fun in the recording studio. I got to sing with The OJs. How cool is that? I told the director that we had become such good friends that I was going to record a CD with The OJs. It was going the be called The OJs and a Cracker. I thought he would fall out of his chair. Like I said, it is about the music. One of my favorite artists is Darrell Mansfield. He plays Christian blues. All music is welcome in the eyes of God.

Mike: What is on the horizon for Mickey Jones, what movies roles or anything that you are excited about?

Mickey: I recently released a 90 minute documentary on the 1966 Bob Dylan First Electric World Tour. It was the first tour when Bob played electric around the world. I was his original drummer. When we started the tour, the group was called The Hawks. None of the press ever referred to us as The Hawks. All they ever said was The Band is too loud, The Band should go back to America, so that's how we got the name, The Band. You can order it out our website, It is a real musical history of my life. I recently shot a film in Centerville, Iowa. It is called "Iowa". It is a pretty violent film. It is about the crystal meth capitol of the world. It should come out next spring.

Mike: Mickey, I must say that this has been a thrill for me, I have respected your characters for years in movies and it is great knowing that you are a brother in Christ and call Jesus your Rock. I just want to give you the opportunity to say anything you would like before the conclusion of the interview.

Mickey: My wife told me something once that has stuck with me and I think about it all the time. "If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything". God wants us to stand up for him. I will not fall for this left wing attack on Christians. I will not fall for this Godless society that we live in today. I already read the back of the book, I know who wins, WE DO!

The following video is a quite informative video on Mickey, to see it click on the video, if the video doesn't appear, click on the link:

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