Jim Shelley (born February 29, 1952) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, writer, painter, and former high school teacher. Since the release of his first album, 12 Songs in 1979, Shelley has usually recorded his albums in his home studio on a four or eight track tape machine, more often than not performing all the instrumental and vocal parts himself, though in recent years he has employed a full band on a number of occasions. Shelley's music encompasses elements of everything from first-wave Brit-pop, '60s garage rock, folk and country to punk, hard rock and metal to electronica to sound collage and extreme noise.
Shelley is a prolific writer, having released more than 500 songs on over forty records, most of them since 1989. He played a prominent role in the 1990s lo-fi music scene.
Over the last couple of decades, Shelley has performed sporadically on the East Coast, mostly in or near his home town of Bridgewater, Virginia, with various rock bands, including Book Of Proles, The Plague Dogs, agitprop The Karl Rove, Fear + Whiskey, and most notably the stylistically diverse Book Of Kills.
On February 10, 2010, Shelley disclosed on the "official" band web page, bookofkills.com, that he was disbanding Book Of Kills for the foreseeable future, if not for good. A month later, on March 13, 2010, the group (Shelley, George Nipe and Mike Hicks) performed one final time at the Little Grill Collective in Harrisonburg, Virginia, the venue where the very first line-up of BOK, Shelley, Brian Temples, Dustin Bugg, and Mike Johnson, had delivered their first live show in 1994.
In early 2010, Shelley created a new group called Fear + Whiskey that attempted to blend elements of country and old-time music with hard rock. That band apparently folded in the spring of 2013 after playing a dozen or so shows over the course of three years.
In 2012, Shelley published his autobiography, The Ballad Of Jim Shelley: My Life As A Failed Rock Star.
Shelley revealed in mid-2013 that he was practicing on occasion with former Book Of Kills members Casey and Jane Firkin, and George Nipe III with the intention of playing one or two (and possibly more) live shows. This group of musicians had, by the end of 2013, indeed played three well-received gigs, though by early 2014 they had disbanded without notice.
Shelley continues to create new music and in July 2015 announced the creation of a "Book of Kills Single of the Month Club".
In early 2016, Shelley announced that The Karl Rove's original line-up, which besides Shelley included Aaron Farrington, Johnny St. Ours, and Billy Hunt, was going to "jam together for the first time in ten years", though he did not indicate whether or not the four members of the defunct group intended to reunite. By the end of 2016, it had become apparent that the one-time jam was indeed just that. No reunion news would be forthcoming. However, Shelley and former bandmates Garfield Banks and George Nipe III began practicing together with the stated intention of playing an "...occasional live gig wherever we might be able to find one."
Shelley lives with his wife, Mary Lou, in Bridgewater, Virginia. He has two children, Christian and Daniel.
Former Alternative Press writer Jim Santos described Shelley as "one of America's great unknown songwriters."12 Songs (1979)
What I Did on My Summer Vacation (1983)
Bloom Or Die (1989)
For The Good of the Cause (1991)
Don't Stop The Scream (1992)
The Haunted Life (1992)
Wee Jim's Blackeye (1993)
Big Business Monkey, Volume One (1993)
Songs for a Gone World (1994)
Big Business Monkey, Volume Two (1994)
Saint Judas (1995)
Writing on the Wall (1996)
Splendid Trigger (1996)
Nothing You Can Say (1997)
So Far in Every Direction (1997)
If I Should Fall (1998)
Welcome To Concrete (1999)
Songs – 1983–2000 (2000)
Hoggett Heads (2002)
All About You (2002)
Wasp 51! (2003)
Rockin' The Cheetah's Ass: Book Of Kills Live (2004)
I Can't Give You Anything But Love (2005)
The Monkeyclaus Sessions – The Karl Rove (2006)
Monkeyclaus Plus – The Karl Rove (2006)
Adventures Of An Inspired Amateur – Box Set (2006)
The Plague Dogs (2008)
This Is Your Book Of Kills (2008)
Toward The Escape (2009)
The Strange One (Outtakes & Demos) Volume One (2010)
Bona Fide (2011)
The Pleasures Of Saying Goodbye (2012)
Psychic Diving (2012)
Fear + Whiskey Anthology (2013)
Riding The Echo Down (2014)
Big Business Monkey, Volume 5 (2015)
Human Again (2015)
I Roam The World Between & Three Others (2016)
Filling in Holes - The Singles Club Remixes, Volume 1 (2016)
How Beautiful Are We? - The Singles Club Remixes, Volume 2 (2016)
Saluted and Defied - The Singles Club Remixes, Volume 3 (2017)