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Wed, 08.08.1923

Jimmy Whitherspoon, Blues Singer born

Jimmy Whitherspoon

*Jimmy Witherspoon was born on this date in 1923. He was a Black blues singer.

From Gurdon, Ark., he got his start while traveling the world as a merchant seaman during World War II; he had an opportunity to sing with the big band of Teddy Weatherford, who encouraged him to pursue a music career. Beginning in 1944, he appeared in the music clubs of Los Angeles and got a big break when he was invited to join Jay McShann's band in Vallejo.

In 1949, Witherspoon's first single, "Ain't Nobody's Business," reached No. 1 on the R&B charts. His career slowed with the advent of rock 'n' roll. Still, he made a comeback performance at the 1959 Monterey Jazz Festival, recorded with Earl Hines and other jazz greats over the next decade, made European tours, and regularly visited prisons to perform for inmates. He toured with guitarist Robben Ford and appeared at blues and jazz festivals until he underwent throat cancer surgery in the mid-1980s. “Spoon," as he was known, recorded dozens of albums and fronted small bands and large orchestras.

His career included tours in Europe, prison performances, and appearances at influential venues like the Monterey Jazz Festival. His hits included "Blues Around the Clock," "Some of My Best Friends are the Blues," and "Blue Spoon." Jimmy rejoined Ford in the early 1990s. The Live at the Mint album was nominated for the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. Reunited with Mike Vernon in 1992, Jimmy records the excellent album The Blues, the Whole Blues, and Nothing But the Blues.  Jimmy Witherspoon, whose trademark was his deep, smoky voice, died in Los Angeles, California, on September 13, 1997.  

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