Jimmy Jones (1937-2012) was an American singer-songwriter whose distinct vocal quality has been described as an effortlessly soulful falsetto. The Alabama native started his career in show business as a tap dancer, then in 1954 became part of a doo-woop group named the Berliners (later Sparks Of Rhythm). Jones began his solo career in the late 50s and collaborated with Otis Blackwell to re-record “Handy Man”, which Jones had previously done with Sparks Of Rhythm on Cub Records, MGM’s auxiliary label. “Handy Man” became a major hit for Jones, as it made dents on both pop and R&B charts. He had also released another hit single “Good Timin’” , also in the late 50s. When his chart-making power began to lose steam, Jones nonetheless continued to make records and write songs. His vocal influence in the falsetto department had spread out to later singers such as Del Shannon, Frankie Valli, and Barry Gibb, among others. Because he was more popular in the UK, the label Castle/Sanctuary released Good Timin’ The Anthology, in double-disc edition.
Singing and recording career in the 1950s-1960s
James “Jimmy” Jones is known for his oldies music hits “Handy Man” during 50s music and 60s music era. He was born in Birmingham, Alabama on June 2, 1937. Jones was once a tap dancer before moving on to singing.
In 1954 he became part of a doo-wop group the Berliners, who changed their name into Sparks of Rhythm.
In 1955 he wrote a song called “Handy Man” which was recorded by Sparks of Rhyth. He eventually went solo and worked with singer-songwriter and pianist Otis Blackwell who worked on an updated version of the song. Jones went on to make the famous whistling part of the song (after learning that the failed to appear in the session).
“Handy Man” was released in 1959. It went all the way to #2 on the Billboard pop chart, #3 on the R&B singles chart, and #3 on the UK singles chart. The song would also be covered by Del Shannon and James Taylor, and both of their versions also would also become hits.
Its follow-up, “Good Timin'” topped the UK singles chart in 1960, while it peaked at #3 Billboard pop and #3 R&B. That and “Handy Man” became million-selling hits and helped Jones achieve gold records.
After the peak…
After the hits dried up, Jones nevertheless remained busy recording, performing as well as writing songs. He continued to record for other labels such as Roulette and Vee-Jay. He remained popular in the UK’s Northern soul circles, and this helped him to release a CD entitled Grandma’s Rock & Roll Party, during the 1990s.
Jimmy Jones passed away in Aberdeen, North Carolina on August, 2, 2012. He was 75 years old.