Introduction to Jimmy Castor
Jimmy Castor (1940-2012) was a former singer and funk/pop saxophonist. Castor’s first solo hit as a saxophonist was “Hey Leroy, Your Mama’s Callin’ You” in 1966, barging into the Top 40 pop chart and Top 20 R&B chart. In 1972, Castor formed the Jimmy Castor Bunch, consisting of backing musicians Gerry Thomas (keyboard, trumpet), Doug Gibson (bass), Harry Jensen (guitar), Lenny Fridle Jr. (congas) and Bobby Manigault (drums). That year also, Jimmy Castor Bunch achieved their biggest hit ever, wit “Troglodyte (Cave Man)”, reaching the top 10 of both pop and R&B charts. Castor and his Bunch later released well-received singles such as “E-Man Boogie”, “The Bertha Butt Boogie” and “Potential”. In 1988, Joyce Sims’ “Love Makes A Woman” featured Castor – it became a Top 40 R&B hit. Also during the 1980s Castor established his own label Long Distance that enabled him to release his own material like “Can’t Help Falling In Love With You”. He died in 2012 from a heart failure, aged 71.
From singing to saxophone
Pop and funk musician James Walter “Jimmy” Castor was born in Manhattan, New York, on January 23, 1940. As he grew older he started his career by singing doo-wop. He replaced the lead singer of The Teenagers, Frankie Lymon, but in the mid-1950s he made a career shift from being a singer to being a saxophonist. This change of music career direction turned out to be very successful.
Castor made an appearance on several soul, jazz and Latin sessions. His first charting single was in 1966 with “Hey, Leroy, Your Mama’s Callin’ which he wrote with Johnny Pruitt and was released on Smash label. It went to #31 on the Billboard Top 40 chart, and #16 on the R&B singles chart.
The Jimmy Castor Bunch’s biggest hit with “Troglodyte”
Along with the Jimmy Castor Bunch, Castor achieved his most successful hit with “Troglodyte (Cave Man)” which Castor himself conceived with the members of the Jimmy Castor Bunch. It went to #6 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #4 on the R&B singles chart in 1972. The song stayed on the charts for a total of fourteen weeks, sold over a million copies and was eventually given with a gold disc.
The song has heavily lent a big influence especially to the world of hip-hop and dance, especially with the lines “What we’re gonna do right here is go back, way back, back into time” which have been frequently sampled by artists of these genres. Actually, most of Jimmy Cantor’s material have been heavily sampled by them.
“Troglodyte” is also notable for Castor’s repeated line “Gotta find a woman” and “Sock it to me.”
The success of “Troglodyte” pushed its album It’s Just Begun to the high positions of the R&B albums chart (at #11) and the Billboard 200 (at #27).
Later life and career
Castor continued the trend with “The Bertha Butt Boogie” (the character of Bertha Butt originally appeared on “Troglodyte” as “one of the Butt sisters”) and “E-Man Boogie,” “Potential,” “King Kong,” “Space Age,” “Don’t Do That,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love with You,” and “Amazon,” among all others. Castor went on to record as a solo artist from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, and later formed his own label, Long Distance, during the latter decade.
Castor died in Henderson, Nevada on January 16, 2012, just seven days before he turned 72.
The Jimmy Castor Bunch members
- Jimmy Castor (saxophone/band leader)
- Gerry Thomas (keyboards/trumpet)
- Doug Gibson (bass)
- Harry Jensen (guitar)
- Lenny Fridle Jr. (congas)
- Bobby Manigault (drums)
(During his time with the band, Thomas simultaneously played with the Fatback Band. But some sources say he left Jimmy Castor Bunch to join the Fatback Band)