Cheerleader Jim and the High Kicks

Band Art After Jimmy's Tragedy

This band, formed in 2002, began as a garage band satiring high school drama. The band was composed of high school buddies James Grant (or Jimmy G as he liked to be called), Billy Whittaker, Robert Lands, and Kevin Smith. Jimmy G's brilliant songwriting and poetics comically mocked teenage life and uncertainties; his songs began to gain popularity for their wit and good riffs. After gaining huge fame in their hometown of Cleveland, they began to tour nationwide. This inevitably led to rampant drug use in the quartet, resulting in the overdose and death of lead songwriter Jimmy G. After breaking up the band and fading into obscurity for over a year, lead guitarist Billy Whittaker called the band back together for a solemn goodbye. He reformed the band, then left it, saying "This is what I have to do. I can't do this kinda thing anymore. It screws up your life. It really does." After two years of unsuccessful songwriting (apparently due to a lack of inspiration since the death of Jimmy G), the remaining members of the original band (plus a couple new faces) went back to Jimmy G's grave for a final goodbye before traveling to Los Angeles to start over. Bob Lands tells us what happened next- "As we drove up to the cemetary where Jimmy was laid, we saw a car we thought we recognized. After going in, who did we see standing ramrod still, facing Jimmy's grave but Billy Whittaker, who had left all contact with the band over 2 years before." His message this time, was astounding. None of the band members wanted to relay exactly what he said that day to us, but we got a summary. He told them that they had to make this band great, while putting out the message of Jimmy's death. He said the music didn't matter- it would come after the heart and soul came through. And it did- the High Kicks came back harder than ever, making their first platinum record and first chart-topper single "No Mother" within a year. Since that day at the graveyard, Billy Whittaker, now known as Billy W (in respect to Jimmy G) has never said a single word. At concerts, he plays his heart out in tune to the beats of Kevin Smith and the whirring screeches of Johnny the Irish violinist- silently. His reverence for his fallen friend is unmatched, and really shows this group's devotion to their cause. The name, Cheerleader Jim and the High Kicks was kept, even though another singer, Ian Rohnsonn, has taken over the title of lead singer. This group still tours today, as one of the most soulful bands in the world.

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