Tootsie’s & Palomino Legend Jimmy Snyder Has Died

photo: Tara Thompson

Country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and long-time performer Jimmy Snyder has died, according to close friends. A fixture of the historic Palomino Club in North Hollywood where he led the club’s house band called The Palomino Riders throughout the 70’s, he later relocated to Nashville and became a regular club performer, playing in Printer’s Alley, and later a legendary residency at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge, helping to mentor artists such as Tim McGraw, Trace Adkins, Tara Thompson, and others early in their careers. He passed away on Wednesday, December 9th.

Born in 1934 in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, James “Jimmy” Snyder grew up in Wheeling, West Virginia, and started performing at the age of seventeen, primarily in the bluegrass realm. He appeared on the famous Wheeling Jamboree, and helped form a bluegrass band with well-known fiddler Toby Stroud called called Toby Stroud and The Blue Mountain Boys. After pausing his career to serve in the military, Snyder relocated to Southern California, and began playing in the Gene Davis Band at the Palomino Club. Soon Snyder began making a name for himself in the local country music scene, and became a fixture of the Palomino.

Throughout his career, Jimmy Snyder was singed to various record labels including Toppa Records, K-Ark Records, Wayside Records, and others, finding his greatest success with the song “The Chicago Story.” He collaborated at times with artists such as Willie Nelson on the song “I’m Still Not Over You,” Merle Haggard on the song “Haggard State of Mind,” played with Elvis Presley who once joked Snyder could sing “Memories” better than he could, and Leon Russell was once in Jimmy’s band as an up-and-coming piano player.

But where Jimmy Snyder’s most lasting contribution was as a fixture in local clubs, playing classic country standards and originals, and often giving up-and-comers some of their first opportunities on legendary stages in both California and Nashville. He could play most any country song shouted at him from the crowd.

“We had a banter like no one else,” said singer and songwriter Tara Thompson at his passing. “He was my person for so long. People would laugh when I would tell them that my best friend was an 85 year old man, but it was true. He was one of the most talented, stubborn, hilarious, confident, inappropriate (he loved embarrassing me lol) legend of a man … Gosh, I loved that man. We played on that tootsies stage more times than I can count, we fought like cats and dogs, and we loved each other.”

Long time guitarist David Langley said, “RIP my good friend Jimmy Snyder. He gave me my first playing job at Tootsies years ago when I moved to Nashville. The Human Juke Box. I don’t think there was a real country song he didn’t know. You’ll truly be missed. You already are.”

Singer and songwriter Lane Brody remembered, “When I first got to LA and went to the Palomino Club to sit in, where many artists got their start and honed stage chops, he generously let me share his stage. He let me use his guitar and HE WAS ALWAYS A KIND CARING GENTLEMAN. He gave so much to an industry that never totally appreciated how gifted he was.”

Though not as well-known as Charley Pride who passed away the next day and somewhat overshadowed his death, Jimmy Snyder had a major impact on the careers of many artists in two epicenters of country music, and will be missed.

A Go Fund Me has been set up to help pay for Jimmy Snyder’s final expenses.

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