Stackabones remembers Jimmy Brighton


During his youth in Glen Cove, Jimmy Brighton shared his passion for music with Butch Zito and David Dictor, igniting a lifelong friendship. They spent countless hours jamming at Glen Cove beaches with their band “the Covers.” With Brighton’s charisma and Zito’s musical talents, they honed their craft, synergy and camaraderie, which soon led them to form Stackabones, a band that would come to symbolize the spirit of their generation.
Brighton died at 67 years old in May of 2023 from brain cancer. When Zito reflected on those formative years in Glen Cove, he said his longtime friend did more than just teach him to play guitar.
“He gave me the gift of music which changed my life,” Zito said. “Far from my parent’s idea of who they wanted me to be.”
Dictor said Brighton was a reliable friend. “He’s the kind of person that would give you the shirt off his back,” Dictor recalled. “He was a natural musician, and my biggest musical influence.”
After graduating Glen Cove High School in the late 70s, Brighton attended Long Island University CW Post to study music and communications. He became a popular disc jockey there.

After learning many of their classmates, including Dictor, moved to Austin, TX. Brighton and Zito decided to live out their dreams of stardom there too.
The duo worked many short-term jobs outside of playing local shows. On average, the band was paid a mere $150, split between five members, which didn’t stretch far.
“Jimmy was the schmooze in the band,” Zito recalled. “When we needed to get to know someone so we can get booked Jimmy would go over and next thing they’d be best friends and laugh with the guy. He had that personality that right away you liked. He knew how to talk to you and make it a two-way conversation.”
Stackabones emerged as a prominent presence in the vibrant Austin music scene during the mid-1980s. Their debut single, “Burned On Love,” gained recognition when it was played during intermissions at a Grateful Dead concert.
Stackabones secured a record deal with Relix Records. Their inaugural album featured renowned pedal steel musician Bobby Black, formerly of the New Riders of The Purple Sage.
The band’s name, Stackabones is derived from Woody Guthrie’s personal tragedy. Woody affectionately referred to his young daughter, Cathy Ann, as “Little Stackabones” before her untimely death in a fire when she was five. Woody’s resilience and ability to find solace in music, even in the face of profound loss, resonated with Brighton and Zito. They named Stackabones with a dedication to honoring his spirit and teachings through their music.
“Jimmy and I took our dream and made it happen more than we ever thought it could,” Zito said. “Even just by having the Grateful Dead play our stuff.”
While touring California in 1985, Brighton went by himself to see Jerry Garcia perform, which is where he met his future wife Nancy. Not long after, the couple had James Brighton Jr. Later, Brighton had a second child, Lindsay Brighton.
Brighton Jr. inherited his father’s love for music and remembers learning how to play guitar while sitting on his father’s lap. Brighton Jr. said his father often used his musical talents to bring friends together, including when he helped organize a special event in 2013 for his friend Keith Jackson, who was battling terminal cancer. Brighton wanted to celebrate Jackson’s life with a living wake. Brighton Jr. and his father formed the Living Wake Band for this occasion and held a memorable show at Turpin Crossroads, a renowned venue in the Grateful Dead world. The event featured over 20 musicians and attracted around 200 friends of Jackson, celebrating life and music together.
To commemorate Brighton’s life, Stackabones will hold a concert at My Father’s Place, 1221 Old Northern Blvd, Roslyn, on April 21 from 4:30 p.m. to 7.
“I’m glad that we’re honoring him by having a big musical celebration, just as he would want,” Brighton Jr. said. “He would want a moment of loudness instead of a moment of silence.”