Introduction to Joe Hinton
Joe Hinton (1929-1968) was an American gospel/R&B/soul singer, born in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Hinton was a gospel singer at their local church when he was discovered by Don Robey. Hinton agreed to Robey’s request to try singing secular songs, and signed up to Robey’s label Peacock Records. After achieving minor hits, Hinton finally had a major with with “Funny How Time Slips Away” written by Willie Nelson (it was also previously a hit by Jimmy Elledge, another artist also having a short-lived career). Hinton’s last two singles “A Thousand Cups of Happiness” and “I Want A Little Girl” languished below the Hot 100 but were considerable R&B hits. Hinton’s promising career was tragically cut short when he died of skin cancer in 1968, aged only 39.
Joe Hinton’s early life
Deep soul balladeer Joseph Lee “Joe” Hinton was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi on November 15, 1929. Some sources say that he was born in Evansville, Indiana, but it is actually in that place where he later moved, married someone named LaVerne Flowers, and raised his own family.
Hinton possessed a very beautiful, moving voice as well as subtle technique in his delivery.
Hinton’s musical journey began when he performed as a member of several gospel such as the Blair Gospel Singers, the Chosen Gospel Quartet and the Spirit of Memphis Quartet. He later appeared on many of their recordings, released on Peacock label. By the late 1950s the owner of the Peacock label, Don Robey, realized that they could become financially more successful if they move to the secular field than in gospel for his talented wards. So Robey urged Hinton to renounce his gospel roots to complete the transition, to which Hinton reluctantly followed.
Hinton’s transition as a secular recording artist
Hinton traded his gospel robe for the sharp suits of a R&B and soul crooner. He later participated in the Little Junior Parker Show, and then releasing a record on Robey’s other label Back Beat titled “You Know It Ain’t Right” in 1963. The song was written by Robey, who billed himself on the record as Deadric Malone. “You Know It Ain’t Right” became Hinton’s first charting single, peaking at #88 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #20 on the R&B singles chart.
“You Know It Ain’t Right” was quickly followed by “Better To Give Than to Receive” which became also a minor pop hit (#89) also written by Robey (also as Deadric Malone).
Hinton’s biggest hit “Funny How Time Slips Away”
In 1964 Hinton achieved his biggest hit with his cover of Billy Walker’s original “Funny How Time Slips Away,” written by country legend Willie Nelson. The single was released with its shortened title “Funny.” It reached the top of the R&B charts, and entered the Billboard Top 20 at #13 in 1964. It also went to #1 on the Cash Box charts; the song sold over a million copies and was awarded with a gold disc. Because of the success of the single, Hinton left the Parker show to further his solo career, embarking on a national tour.
Hinton’s later career and ultimately demise
Following singles “A Thousand Cups of Happiness” (1964) and “I Want a Little Girl” were his last charting singles, with both of them bubbling under the Hot 100. Hinton remained with the Back Beat, though. His promising career was cut short by his untimely death on August 13, 1968 from skin cancer. He was only 38 years old.