Uncle Dickie’s partner in the heroin and marijuana trade was James “Jimmy” Bell, a well-known pianist-singer who played regularly at the Pryor family’s tavern The Famous Door. When Dickie was caught in an FBI lead raid on their establishment, Jimmy was not one of the eight arrested at the house. He made it to St. Louis before the FBI caught up with him a day later and returned him to Peoria.
A few years prior to his arrest, Bell had released two singles of, in his words, “sophisticated jump blues” after being signed on to Chess Records. After the heroin charge, though, Bell’s career became more tumultuous. Later on in life, he was arrested for “aiding and abetting an abortion” and for being in possession of counterfeit food stamps. At age 69, this Peoria native began his final stint in prison.
(For more on Bell, see the Nov.-Dec. 1978 issue of Living Blues, which features an interview with him.)