Jimmy Jones Was For Real

It’s no secret that entertainers often come up with stage names to simplify their real names, but that’s not the case with singer Jimmy Jones, who was born in Birmingham, Alabama, as James Jones, so the “Jimmy” was just a natural nickname. We can forgive him for that.

Jones was a singer and songwriter, but when he began his career in the 1950s it was as a tap dancer. By mid-decade he’d worked his way into singing spots with a couple of different doo-wop groups, and was also having some luck in his songwriting efforts, but it wasn’t until 1959 that he broke out big time. A song he’d written earlier – “Handy Man” – became his first solo hit, and it was a big one. His friend, Otis Blackwell, had helped rewrite it, and he also whistled the flute part when the flutist didn’t show up.

Jones was especially popular with British fans, and his falsetto singing style was new to most of them. It was also an influence on many stars who came along later, including Del Shannon, Frankie Valli, and others.

Jones’ second big hit followed soon after. “Good Timin'” hit #1 in the UK and #3 in the US, securing him his second gold record. Those two records would be his only megabits, but Jones continued to stay active for many years, making some solid records, writing songs, and producing. He was 75 when he died in 2012.

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