Jimmy Godwin's love for music started early. He taught himself to play guitar as a young teen, and won a contest in high school using a song he had written. After high school, he spent two years with the Marine Corps, including a short tour of duty in Viet Nam. He attended the University of North Texas, leaving after one year to play music full-time, forming a band called Pecos with John Early in 1975. Jimmy loved western swing, and he spent much of his career playing it, starting in 1978 with the band Texas Moon. Besides Bob Wills, one of Jimmy's greatest musical influences was Justus A. Bush, an elderly fiddle player he met at a nursing home. After retiring from the road in 1997, Jimmy joined Hickory Hill. He also played with a Mineola group called Cactus Jack.
An outstanding and prolific songwriter and long-time friend of the band, Jimmy composed many of Hickory Hill's most popular songs, including the James Boys
And Me, Pecos Wind, Cadillac, Simple Love Song, Old And Gray, Old Time Feeling, Hoedown, Good Times Again, Kentucky Home, Fiddle Waltz, and many more. After joining Hickory Hill in October, 1997, he wrote more great songs, especially gospel songs, including Lost
and Found, Red Roses, and The Rock.
In addition to his songwriting talents, Jimmy was a fine singer and guitar player, and was rapidly developing his skills on the fiddle. But his contribution to Hickory Hill was much more than in music alone. Jimmy brought a new exuberance to Hickory Hill, and a renewed interest in finding and working up unusual or underutilized material, such as Sinner Man, Where You Gonna Run, which he found in a songbook in an old banjo case. He had a way of encouraging and complimenting his fellow band members when they did something especially well that made them feel really special. In the words of one of the members of Cactus Jack, "When Jimmy paid me a compliment I felt as good as if Paul McCartney had given me a compliment."
Jimmy had a love for music which radiated out to others. He also had a wonderful stage presence and gentlemanly style that just came naturally to him. His sweet spirit and love for people were obvious to everyone, both on and off stage. He had a hearty handshake and a broad grin for everyone he met.
Jimmy Godwin is, and will continue to be dearly missed by everyone who knew him.