Jimmy Jones Biography

2 June 1937, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. Some sources state 1942 as his year of birth. Jones, who had spent a long apprenticeship singing in R&B doo-wop groups, became a rock ‘n’ roll star in the early 60s singing ‘Handy Man’ and other hits with a dramatic and piercingly high falsetto. He began his career as a tap dancer, and in 1955 joined a vocal group, the Sparks Of Rhythm. In 1956 Jones formed his own group, the Savoys, which were renamed the Pretenders in 1956. With all these groups, tracks were recorded in the prevailing doo-wop manner but with no discernible success beyond a few local radio plays in the New York/New Jersey area. Success finally came when Jones launched a solo career, signing with MGM Records’ Cub subsidiary in 1959 and hitting with his debut, ‘Handy Man’ (number 3 R&B/number 2 pop chart in 1960). Retaining the same falsetto style, he followed up with ‘Good Timin’’ (number 8 R&B/number 3 pop chart in 1960), but the decline in sales was considerable for his two other US chart entries, ‘That’s When I Cried’ (number 83 pop chart in 1960) and ‘I Told You So’ (number 85 pop chart in 1961). In the UK, Jones’ chart success was exceptional compared to most of his US contemporaries. In 1960 ‘Handy Man’ reached number 3, ‘Good Timin’’ number 1, ‘I Just Go For You’ number 35, ‘Ready For Love’ number 46 and ‘I Told You So’ number 33. ‘Handy Man’ was revived on the charts twice, by Del Shannon in 1964 and by James Taylor in 1977. Although performing occasionally, little was heard of Jones beyond the early 70s. He is philosophical about his career, yet not bitter. He has managed to earn a respectable living from royalties from co-writing ‘Handy Man’ with Otis Blackwell.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.