Mickey Jones lent drums and percussion to numerous hit records from and live concerts with Bob Dylan and Kenny Rogers before turning his focus to his second career as a character actor in films like "Total Recall" (1990) and countless television series, including "Home Improvement" (ABC, 1991-99). Born into a Navy family on June 10, 1941 in Houston, Texas, Jones began playing drums while in high school, and co-founded a band, the Catalinas, with classmates. The experience allowed him to serve as a freelance musician for other acts, which led to a stint with folksinger Trini Lopez; he would leave the band in 1959 to earn a degree from the University of North Texas before heading west to California, where he worked at Rohr Aircraft. Jones quickly tired of the work and returned to the entertainment industry, where he rejoined Lopez's band at the height of the performer's pop stardom with singles like "If I Had a Hammer" and the chart-topping "At P.J.'s" live LP in 1963. The following year, he left Lopez to back Johnny Rivers for two years before joining the Band to back Bob Dylan on his historic 1965-66 world tour. Jones replaced Band drummer Levon Helm, who had quit the group due to audiences' visceral reaction to Dylan playing electric instruments, and performed at the infamous Royal Albert Hall concert in May 1966, when an audience member labeled Dylan as Judas, prompting the singer to respond, "I don't believe you. You're a liar!" When the tour was cut short due to Dylan's injury in a motorcycle accident, Jones decided to leave music to pursue his childhood dream of becoming an actor, but joined former New Christy Minstrel singer Kenny Rogers to form The First Edition. The pop-rock act first struck gold on the charts in 1968 with the psychedelic single "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In"), and was followed by several country-tinged tracks, including a cover of Mel Tillis' "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" and "Reuben James," and a variety series, "Rollin' On the River" (syndicated, 1971-73). Jones also earned his first screen acting credit as a member of the First Edition, which appeared as a fictitious band in the 1974 TV movie "The Dream Makers" (NBC), and soon left the band to devote his energies to film and television. His burly, bearded presence made him an ideal choice for casting directors seeking bikers and small town types, and as such, Jones worked steadily for the next three decades, often appearing in multiple projects per year. He made his feature film debut as a rustler opposite Steve McQueen in "Tom Horn" (1980), and would enjoy recurring and regular work on series like "Flo" (CBS, 1980-82) and the miniseries "V" (NBC, 1983) and its short-lived series (NBC, 1984-85). His acting career hit full stride in the 1990s with feature roles in "Total Recall" (1990), "Tin Cup" (1996) and "Sling Blade" (1996), which cast him as the drummer in a bar band fronted by fellow musician Colonel Bruce Hampton. However, his widest exposure during this period came with a recurring role on the popular sitcom "Home Improvement" as construction worker Pete Bilker, who also played makeshift drums in a garage band comprised of his co-workers. Bilker's catchphrase, "That would be me," would later provide Jones with the title of his autobiography, published in 2007. When "Improvement" ran its course in 1999, Jones resumed a busy schedule of guest appearances, as well as a recurring role as small time drug dealer Rodney "Hot Rod" Durham in three seasons of FX's "Justified." He logged his last screen role in a 2015 episode of the Adult Swim comedy "Newsreaders" (2013-15) before diabetes sapped his ability to work on a regular basis. He passed away on February 7, 2018 at the age of 76.
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
First acting role as a drummer in the TV movie "The Dream Makers"
Played a chubby pool player on "The Rockford Files"
Appeared as Bo Mackey on an episode of "Charlie's Angels"
Had a recurring role on the "Alice" spinoff, "Flo"
Had a memorable role as a crooked mechanic in the Chevy Chase comedy "Vacation"
Recurring role as a resistance fighter on "V"
Had his longest series role on the sitcom "Home Improvement," with 13 appearances over several seasons
Appeared in the Kevin Costner golf film "Tin Cup"
Appeared as himself in the self-referential Hollywood insider show, "Entourage"
Played Rodney 'Hot Rod' Dunham on the crime drama "Justified"
Appeared in his final screen role on an episode of the series "Newsreaders"