Saturday, August 04, 2012

Handy Man Singer Jimmy Jones Has Died

Jimmy Jones, the Birmingham, Alabama native who scored two top five records in four months at the beginning of 1960, died Thursday (August 2) at the age of 75. Jimmy moved to New York as a teenager, hooking up with the Sparks of Rhythm in 1954. They recorded the original version of his composition, "Handy Man", in 1956. By then Jimmy had left, forming the Savoys and recording under that name and as the Pretenders and the Jones Boys before he struck out on his own in 1959. 

Partnering with songwriter Otis Blackwell, he re-worked "Handy Man" and recorded it for Cub Records (that's Otis whistling on the tune). The song made it to #2 and was followed by another Otis production, "Good Timin'", which got to #3. Inexplicably, the hits then dried up for Jimmy. "That's When I Cried" only got to #83 and "I Told You So" floundered at #85 in 1961. Moves to the Ro-Jac, Vee-Jay, Roulette, Parkway and Bell labels yielded no more hits, but Jimmy kept on writing and performing.