Mickey Jones, whose bearded, grizzled face added texture to scores of shows from The Rockford Files to Justified and dozens of films including Sling Blade and National Lampoon’s Vacation and whose drumming still beats away on oldies radio, died today following a lengthy illness. He was 76.
His death was confirmed to Deadline by his rep Cherry Hepburn.
Although he’ll most likely be recognized from his appearances in National Lampoon’s Vacation, Sling Blade and, to sitcom fans, Flo, Jones got his start in show business seated at a drum kit, playing for 1960s hitmakers including Trini Lopez (“If I Had a Hammer”), Johnny Rivers (“Secret Agent Man”) and Kenny Rogers and the First Edition (“Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love To Town” and “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”.
Jones even toured with Bob Dylan, drumming during the now-legendary 1966 performance at the Manchester Free Trade Hall when a newly electric Dylan was chastised as “Judas!” by an audience member.
During his tenure with the First Edition, Jones appeared on the early 1970s variety show Rollin’ on the River, giving him a first taste of the TV career that would span decades. His role on Flo, a spinoff of Alice that aired from 1980-81 on CBS, was followed by V, M*A*S*H, Home Improvement (he recurred as Pete Bilker), Baywatch, Entourage, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Workaholics — a small sampling of his TV credits.
Typically cast as a biker, hippie or blue-collar worker, Jones as recently as 2015 recurredon FX’s Justified as pot dealer Hot Rod Dunham.
Movie appearances included roles in Sling Blade, Tin Cup, Total Recall and The Last Best Sunday — again, among many others.
In a 2009 Houston Chronicle profile, Jones, sitting at the Bob’s Big Boy in Burbank that he’d frequented since 1960, explained his acting approach. “I’m not a method actor,” he said. “When somebody says ‘action,’ I can turn it on, and when they ‘cut,’ I turn it back off.”
Billy Bob Thornton, Jones’ friend and Sling Blade co-star, said then: “There’s no pretense to him and none in his acting, but he can do it all. He can do anything, from a kid’s enthusiasm to something real mean.”
Information on survivors and memorial plans was not immediately available.