Monday, January 23, 2012

Jimmy Castor

It is with deep sadness that we here at Springline have heard that Jimmy Castor the New York funk and soul saxophonist, singer and songwriter has died of apparent heart failure in a Las Vegas hospital.

He was born on the 23rd of June 1947 in New York and began his musical career as a doo-wop singer when he wrote and recorded "I Promise to Remember" in 1956. He then went on to replace Frankie Lymon in The Teenagers in 1957 before switching to the saxophone in 1960. It is with this instrument he is probably best known as he became leader of his own disco/funk band The Jimmy Castor Bunch with whom he scored his biggest hit single, 1972’s million seller, "Troglodyte (Cave Man)". Before then he also had a solo hit with "Hey Leroy, Your Mama's Callin' You" on Smash Records in 1966 and played sax on Dave "Baby" Cortez's hit "Rinky Dink."
As leader of The Jimmy Castor Bunch in the 1970s, and also as a solo artist, he released several successful albums and singles. The group reached the peak of their commercial success in 1972 with the release of their album, It's Just Begun, which featured two hit singles: title track and the afore mentioned "Troglodyte (Cave Man)," which peaked at #6 in the US Billboard Hot 100. The track stayed in the chart for 14 weeks and was a million seller by 30 June 1972, and received a gold disc award from the R.I.A.A.
Castor continued the trend in 1975 with "The Bertha Butt Boogie" and later recorded "E-Man Boogie," "King Kong," "Bom Bom," and "Potential”. The Castor band included keyboardist/trumpeter Gerry Thomas, bassist Doug Gibson, guitarist Harry Jensen, conga player Lenny Fridle, Jr., and drummer Bobby Manigault. Thomas, who simultaneously recorded with the Fatback Band, left in the '80's to exclusively record with them. Castor recorded as a solo performer from 1976 until 1988. He had one of his bigger hits in many years with a 1988 revival of "Love Makes a Woman," which paired him with disco diva Joyce Sims.
Many of the Castor Bunches tunes have been heavily sampled in films and in hip-hop with the saxophone hook and groove from "It's Just Begun" with the Jungle Brothers, ‘On The Run’ springing to mind  in particular as well as the spoken word intro from "Troglodyte" , namely “What we're gonna do right now is go back….”.

His son, Jimmy Castor Jr., 45, a filmmaker from Redondo Beach, California, told The Associated Press “he's seen instant recognition hundreds of times at the first sax chords of "It's Just Begun" - even before the lyrics begin. No matter what country you're in, no matter what language you speak, everyone knows it." 

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