At one time, it appeared as though singer/songwriter Jim Ringer would be a major star; instead, he wound up as a cult figure with a small but devoted following. He was born in Yell County in the Arkansas Ozarks; during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s, his family migrated to California's Central Valley. It was a rough life, and by 18, Ringer was serving a three-year prison sentence. For a few years afterward, he was a transient hopping freight trains from job to job until 1969, when he became a professional musician. Two years later, he was a hippie in Berkeley, where he and 12 other friends bought a 1948 Chevy school bus and formed the Portable Folk Festival; the group spent 1971 touring the country and performing. Near the end of the year, Ringer began performing with Kenny Hall & the Sweet's Mill String Band; he cut an album with them in 1972. That year, he also cut his first solo album, Waitin' for the Hard Times to Go, for Folk-Legacy Records. After meeting singer Mary McCaslin in 1972, Ringer teamed up professionally and personally with her, but continued to play individually too. In 1973, Ringer signed to Philo and released Good to Get Home. Two more albums followed in the subsequent three years. After he and McCaslin were married, they recorded a duet for Philo called "The Bramble and the Rose." Ringer signed to Flying Fish in 1981 and recorded Endangered Species, which produced the highly touted "Whiskey and Cocaine" and featured performances by the Dillards, the Burrito Brothers, and the Hot Band. He and McCaslin split up in 1989, and three years later, Ringer died on St. Patrick's Day.
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