Pirates of the Mississippi

Country Group Bill McCorvey from AL

Source: Alabama Music Hall of Fame


Pirates of the Mississippi is an American country music group. It was founded in 1987 by Rich Alves (guitar, Hammond organ, background vocals), Bill McCorvey (guitar, lead vocals) Jimmy Lowe (drums), Pat Severs (steel guitar, Dobro), and Dean Townson (bass guitar). Under this lineup, Pirates of the Mississippi made its national debut in 1990 with a cover of Hank Williams' "Honky Tonk Blues". This cover was the first single from their self-titled debut album. "Honky Tonk Blues" was followed by ten more singles, all of which charted between 1990 and 1995. in that same time span, the band would release four more studio albums and a compilation album. Severs was replaced by Greg Trostle in 1994, and two years later, the five members parted ways. In 2000, Alves and McCorvey reunited and began recording again as a duo, once again using the name Pirates of the Mississippi. The re-established lineup recorded another album, entitled Heaven and a Dixie Night, in 2006 on CBuJ Entertainment.


Pirates of the Mississippi was formed in 1987, when Nashville session musicians Bill McCorvey (lead vocals), Rich Alves (guitar), Dean Townson (bass guitar), Jimmy Lowe (drums), and Pat Severs (steel guitar) started performing together. Originally, they identified themselves as the We Don't Want a Freaking Record Deal Band,[1] but upon witnessing a group of fans wearing clogs, the group changed its name to The Cloggers. Eventually, they settled on the name Pirates of the Mississippi. This name was inspired by Lowe, whom the other members thought resembled a pirate.[1]

Pirates of the Mississippi soon began playing various clubs around Nashville. Eventually, they attracted the attention of an A&R representative at Capitol Records, who signed them to a recording contract in 1990. That year, the band released its self-titled debut album. This album produced four chart singles for the band. First was a cover of Hank Williams's "Honky Tonk Blues," which the band took to #26. After it came "Rollin' Home" at #49 and "Feed Jake," the band's highest-peaking single, at #15. "Speak of the Devil," the last single, reached #29.

1991's Walk the Plank, their second album for Capitol. produced two Top 40 hits and a #41, including their second-highest chart peak in the #22 "Till I'm Holding You Again." After a restructuring of Capitol Nashville, the band was shifted to Liberty Records, where they would release their third and fourth albums: A Street Man Named Desire (1992) and Dream You (1993). Each album's title track was the only charting single from it: "A Street Man Named Desire" peaked at #56 and "Dream You" at #63.

By 1994, a compilation album entitled The Best of Pirates of the Mississippi was issued. This compilation included several tracks from their first four albums, as well as newly recorded remixes. The same year, Severs was replaced with Greg Trostle on steel guitar, and the band parted ways with Liberty. In 1995, the band signed to Giant Records, releasing the non-charting singles "You Could Do Better" and "Sure Sign" for an album which would have been titled Sure Sign.

Later on, the band released Paradise, its only physical album for Giant. Despite producing no singles, this album's title track would later be a Top 40 hit for John Anderson that year. Pirates of the Mississippi disbanded in 1996, with Alves and McCorvey choosing to focus on their songwriting. Among McCorvey's cuts were "Lonely and Gone", a Top 5 hit for Montgomery Gentry, and "I'm Not Gonna Do Anything Without You", a #31 duet by Mark Wills with Jamie O'Neal in 2001.

In 2000, Rich Alves and Bill McCorvey decided to reunite as a duo, again assuming the name Pirates of the Mississippi. Three years later, former steel guitarist Pat Severs joined the house band on Nashville Star, a talent show which airs on the USA Networks.[2] Alves and McCorvey were signed to CBuJ Entertainment in 2006, releasing the album Heaven and a Dixie Night that year.[3] McCorvey has also founded a side project named Buffalo Rome, although he and Alves continue to perform as Pirates of the Mississippi as well. In 2008, original steel guitarist Pat Severs joined the house band on Nashville Star, a talent show which originally aired on the USA Networks before moving to NBC. The program has since been canceled. Original bass guitarist Dean Townson died of unknown causes on March 25, 2010, at the age of 50.[4] Greg Trostle, who replaced Severs as steel guitarist in 1994, currently plays steel for a Nashville-based musician named Scott Tweten. The whereabouts of original drummer Jimmy Lowe are unknown as of late.
Rich Alves – background vocals, guitars, organ (1987–1996, 2000–present)
Bill McCorvey – lead vocals, guitars (1987–1996, 2000–present)
[edit]Former members
Jimmy Lowe – drums (1987–1996)
Pat Severs – steel guitar, Dobro (1987–1994)
Dean Townson – bass guitar (1987–1996)
Greg Trostle – steel guitar, Dobro (1994–1996)
Year Album details Chart Positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
US Country US CAN Country
1990 Pirates of the Mississippi
Released: June 18, 1990
Label: Capitol Nashville
12 80
CAN: Gold
1991 Walk the Plank
Released: September 30, 1991
Label: Capitol Nashville
39 26
1992 A Street Man Named Desire
Released: September 28, 1992
Label: Liberty Records
1993 Dream You
Released: October 19, 1993
Label: Liberty Records
1994 The Best of Pirates of the Mississippi
Released: March 8, 1994
Label: Liberty Records
1995 Paradise
Released: April 25, 1995
Label: Giant Records
2006 Heaven and a Dixie Night
Released: November 7, 2006
Label: Evergreen
Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country CAN Country
1990 "Honky Tonk Blues" 26 12 Pirates of the Mississippi
1991 "Rollin' Home" 49 40
"Feed Jake" 15 12
"Speak of the Devil" 29 20
"Fighting for You" 41 51 Walk the Plank
1992 "Til I'm Holding You Again" 22 28
"Too Much" 36 54
"A Street Man Named Desire" 56 53 A Street Man Named Desire
1993 "Dream You" 63 66 Dream You
1995 "You Could Do Better" Sure Sign
"Sure Sign"
2006 "Drinkin' Money (T.G.I. Party Time)" Heaven and a Dixie Night
"Kickin' Up Dust"
2007 "Fish Bait"
"Heaven and a Dixie Night"
[edit]Music videos
Year Video Director
1990 "Honky Tonk Blues"
1991 "Rollin' Home" Michael Salomon
"Feed Jake"[5] Deaton Flanigen
"Fighting for You"[6] Marius Penczner
1992 "Too Much"[7] Sherman Halsey
"A Street Man Named Desire"[8] Joanne Gardner
1993 "Dream You" Roger Pistole
1995 "You Could Do Better"
2006 "Kickin' Up Dust"
2007 "Fish Bait"[9]
^ a b "What's in a Name?". Pirates of the Mississippi homepage. Retrieved 2008-02-02.
^ Paxman, Bob (2006-09-25). "Setting Sail Again: The Pirates of the Mississippi return to test the musical waters - this time as a duo.". Country Weekly 13 (20): 58.
^ "Pirates of the Mississippi back together". Country Standard Time.
^ Peter Cooper (2010-04-01). "Pirates of the Mississippi bassist Dean Townson dies at 50". The Tennessean. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
^ "CMT : Videos : Pirates of the Mississippi : Feed Jake". Retrieved 2009-08-21.
^ "CMT : Videos : Pirates of the Mississippi : Fighting For You". Retrieved 2011-04-17.
^ "CMT : Videos : Pirates of the Mississippi : Too Much". Retrieved 2011-04-17.
^ ""A Street Man Named Desire" video". CMT. Retrieved 2009-08-21.
^ ""Fish Bait" video". CMT. Retrieved 2009-08-21.
Heaven and a Dixie Night, Pirates of the MississippiPirates of the Mississippi, Pirates of the Mississippi


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