A native of Miami, Oklahoma, Jim Dawson grew up in Littleton, Colorado. A self-taught pianist and guitarist, he performed with several high school bands before enlisting in the United States Naval Air Reserve in 1963. By the following year, he had become a maintenance controller, servicing a squadron of F-48s or Phantom jets aboard the USS Independence in the South China Sea. Securing an honorable discharge in 1966, he settled in New York, where he began to hone his skills in folk music venues and coffeehouses. He briefly performed with a band, the Good Earth, featuring Bill Swofford; the latter went on to international fame as Oliver and scored a major hit with the pop tune, "Good Morning Starshine." Returning to solo performing in 1968, he waited for three years before securing a recording contract.
Dawson was considered one of the most promising contemporary folk artists of the early '70s. Signed by the Kama Sutra label in 1972, he was touted as the "next Dylan". His first two albums for the label, Songman and You'll Never Be Lonely with Me, however, failed to chart and included no hits. Signing with RCA in 1974, he recorded a self-titled third album with the production help of Jim Croce's producers, Terry Cashman and Tommy West. Failing to achieve his hoped-for breakthrough, he moved to Jamaica, where he spent several months doing drugs and drinking. Returning to New York in 1978, he resigned himself to cleaning apartments and driving a cab. Persuaded by friends, Dawson began writing new songs in the mid-'80s and performing in small clubs and coffeehouses in New York's Westchester County and Long Island. His first break came when he was hired to write and record the opening theme song for a popular German television soap opera. With the money he received, Dawson set up a home studio in his New York apartment. Since 1985, Dawson has collaborated with guitarist/vocalist Warren Nichols. The duo has worked together on two albums, Songman Recorded Winter 2000, released in May 2001, and Therapy in Session, released in 2002. ~ Craig Harris, Rovi