Funk saxophonist Jimmy Castor, who recorded a string of R&B hits in the 1970s with his group, the Jimmy Castor Bunch, died on Monday January 16, 2012 in Las Vegas at the age of 71 from possible heart failure.
Jimmy Castor…songwriter, singer, saxophonist, percussionist. Producer, arranger, humorist …alias The E-Man, has earned his well deserved reputation as “THE EVERYTHING MAN.”
Before even finishing junior high school, Jimmy Castor had written his first million seller for Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers called, “I Promise To Remember.” While furthering his education at New York City’s prestigious High School of Music & Art and later attending City College, Jimmy pursued his musical career by assembling a band of his own playing an assortment of major New York nightspots. He then wrote his second million seller, “Hey Leroy Your Mama’s Calling You,” on Mercury Records, through which a new flashy and spirited performer was introduced to the public – JIMMY CASTOR. Still early into his career, Castor befriended such music greats as Jimi Hendrix, Sly Stone, Tito Puente and King Curtis to name only a handful.
Moving on to RCA Records, “The Jimmy Castor Bunch” continued to show off Castor’s witty, pop/r&b writing ability through his amusing characterizations of “Troglodyte” and “Luther the Anthropoid,” hit singles from their first and second RCA albums, “It’s Just Begun” and “Phase Two” – the title cut from the “It’s Just Begun” album was featured in the movie “Flashdance.” On the third RCA LP, Jimmy further established his versatility as an artist/producer by expanding the group’s more serious instrumental abilities as first recognized through Castor’s haunting rendition of “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” and “A Whiter Shade of Pale”.
By the time Jimmy Castor released his debut album for Atlantic Records, it was no wonder that his aptly descriptive nickname could no longer be kept a secret. “The Everything Man” LP was released, and through Jimmy’s obvious talent as a master of all trades, The E-Man and The Bunch justly enjoyed a victory in obtaining Record World’s “Top Instrumental Group” award for the year. And, yet another new pair of innovative singles, “Maggie” and “The Everything Man,” hit the charts.
The internationally famous, smash LP, “Butt of Course,” was Castor’s second Atlantic release. It featured two more pop/r&b hit singles, “The Bertha Butt Boogie” and “Potential”. From the same album, there was also the legendary worldwide disco hit “E-Man Boogie,” which rated number 10 in Billboards’ annual disco poll.
This 1974 album builds on themes presented in his 1972 top-ten hit “Troglodyte,” where a caveman with dancin’ in his veins picks up Bertha (one of the voluptuous Butt sisters) at the local lake and they dance on down the beach. The fun now continues as Bertha rises from the stump where she’s been taking a breather and introduces the “Bertha Butt Boogie,” which draws everyone in the neighborhood together and gives Jimmy Castor and his Bunch a #16 hit on the singles charts in the process. The song’s storyline has been outlined on the back of the record sleeve in a colorful comic strip conceptualized by John Pruitt .
“Supersound,” the next Atlantic LP yielded two more prosperous singles for The Bunch – one being the widely publicized, international favorite “King Kong” which entered the Top 100 Pop Charts in the first week of its release and reached number 1 in Japan. “E-Man Groovin’,” Castor’s fourth Atlantic LP, brought forth still another successful tale – this time about the universal and immortal Transylvanian figure “Dracula.” Castors “Maximum Stimulation” and “The Jimmy Castor Bunch” LPs further displayed Jimmy’s brilliance as a writer and performer through his enchanting saxophone melodies and smooth vocal harmonies.
In addition to his success as a recording artist, producer, writer and arranger as “The Everything Man,” Jimmy’s natural ability to relate to people along with his skill, confidence and ease as a performer and speaker has captivated and motivated audiences throughout the world at various speaking engagements.
Castor has appeared on such television shows as Dinah!, American Bandstand, Soul Train, Positively Black and Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. Jimmy and The Bunch have also enjoyed sold out performances at such venues as The Roxy in Los Angeles, The Felt Forum and Madison Square Garden in New York, RFK Stadium in the nation’s capitol and the Omni in Atlanta. And to add to his credit, much of Jimmy Castor’s music has been sampled innumerable times in movies and by a myriad of today’s most popular artists.
In addition to his son Jimmy Jr., Mr. Castor is survived by his wife, Sandi; another son, Jason; two daughters, April Vargas and Sheli Castor; and eight grandchildren.