(RIP) I can't really tell you how much Jimmy CastorMeans To Me

Album Review: Betty Wright & The Roots - Betty Wright: The Movie I was hoping that Jimmy Castor would have emailed me back and told me something like; "Bob, the reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated..."

But of course that hasn't happened. In fact what has happened is that I have gotten several phone calls & emails confirming his passing.

Of course I became aware of Jimmy Castor first because of the song "Hey Leroy," on WWRL (1600 AM) back when I was a little kid in the 1960's. I had no clue at that point in time, that he would later grow to become so important to me as a person.

Of course I have written a whole lot on the internet about the music and influence of Jimmy Castor. But that is only a part of the story....

I first met Jimmy Castor in 2005 at a party in Las Vegas. Our friend John Wilson (Sly, Slick & Wicked) was about to introduce me to Jimmy Castor and Jimmy interrupted John and said; "you don't have to introduce me to Bob Davis, I already know Bob Davis, because I read the Soul-Patrol. He is my biggest fan, he is from New York, knows what THE REAL DEAL IS, and he is the ONLY writer out there who is willing to tell THE TRUTH about my career from DOO WOP to HIP HOP. I already know Bob Davis, he is my brotha...."

Then Jimmy introduced me to his wife, who was standing right next to him, and she said; "Bob next time you come out to Vegas, you don't have to stay in a hotel, just let us know when your coming, you can stay out at the house..."

Of course I never made it back out to Las Vegas to take up on her offer...

But Jimmy certainly made it to Philadelphia in 2007 for the Soul-Patrol Convention and many of you got a chance to meet him there.

Since 2005 I have probably spent over 100 hours on the phone talking with Jimmy Castor, sometimes about music, but mostly about life.

I last spoke with him about 2 weeks before the 2011 Soul-Patrol Convention. He wanted to apologize to me for being unable to travel to Philly for the Convention, but wanted to show his support by buying 4 tickets. That's when he told me how sick he was. He told me about his battle with cancer and what it had done to his body. However he also told me that he was unwilling to let the disease take away his spirit. I also told him about the similar battle my mother was then waging. Jimmy said to me; "I don't even have to worry about it, I am certain that you and Mike are making absolutely certain that your mom is enjoying a good quality of life..."

A few moments after I hung up the phone, I went to check my email and there was a message from PayPal stating that Jimmy Castor had just purchased 4 tickets to the 2011 Soul-Patrol Convention...

Right now I am listening to an internet radio special I did a few years ago as a tribute to Jimmy Castor: http://www.soul-patrol.com/funk/jimmycastor.htm
I think that I need to move some of this material to the main page of the site...


--Bob Davis

Co-Founder www.soul-patrol.com
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director www.radioio.com

  • LISTEN TO SOUL-PATROL'S TRIBUTE TO THE "EVERYTHING MAN" JIMMY CASTOR: I Promise To Remember, I Got Something For Ya, It's Just Begun, Potential, Super Sound, Space Age, Maximum Stimulation, Whiter Shade of Pale, Purple Haze/Foxy Lady, Hey Leroy, Bertha Butt, Troglodyte, King Kong

    Concert Review: "After Grammy Jammy" - Featuring the LEGENDARY Jimmy Castor Bunch @ Key Club (in Los Angeles)

    Jimmy Castor Bunch I remember "Hey Leroy" on the radio when I was a kid, but I became a fan of Jimmy Castor during high school in NYC. I'll never forget being in a communications class and the teacher talking about how cavemen developed language. After a couple of minutes into his lecture, he said he was going to play a tape of what cavemen could have sounded like. All of the sudden we heard "Troglodyte" and the class went wild! The teacher caught everyone off guard and no one expected that the teacher would be hip to Jimmy Castor. (I'll spare you my "Bertha Butt Boogie" story.) Even though I had been a fan of Jimmy Castor, I had never seen him perform live before. When I was asked to review the show, I jumped at the offer.

    Jimmy Castor BunchI arrived at The Key Club in LA around 9:30 PM and immediately went in. People were still arriving when a young man approached me. It was Jimmy Castor Jr. He introduced himself and his sister April, and said that the show would be starting late. He invited me to the VIP area downstairs to get something to eat. When I got there, I saw Flavor Flav of Public Enemy and Tico Wells, the actor who played "Choirboy" in "The Five Heartbeats". A while later, everyone went upstairs because the show was about to start.

    The MC took the mike, apologized for the late start and thanked everyone for coming out. He then introduced Tico Wells. He told a story about seeing Jimmy Castor in a burnt orange Mercedes in Harlem when he was a kid. Jimmy was talking to a girl when he went up to him to see if it really was Jimmy. He asked said Jimmy denied it so he left and told a friend. His friend went to see for himself and came back with two Jimmy Castor Bunch t-shirts. He said he's still upset he didn't get a t-shirt. Then came the host, Cliff Winston, a DJ on KJLH 102.3 who then introduced Jimmy Castor.

    If you live in the Los Angeles area and didn't make it to the show, SHAME ON YOU!!! The show was INCREDIBLE!!!

    I can only imagine how badd his shows must have been back in the day! Jimmy Castor has taken good care of himself and looks about 20 years younger than his actual age. His voice hasn't changed and still sounds great. He can still blow the sax too. And the band was great! They are one of the few groups I've heard live that sounded just like the records. I was truly amazed how good they were and was really surprised.

    The band started off the set with The Marvelettes hit "When You're Young And In Love". Then they did the funky "Groove Will Make You Move" that had a great guitar part. Next was one of my favorites "Potential". It was followed with "SuperSound", "Hey Leroy" and "Troglodyte" which got the crowd going. Next was "Bertha Butt Boogie" that got everyone on their feet. The hit "King Kong" followed. Jimmy then played timbales during Joe Cuba's "Bang Bang" and really put on a show for the crowd. He then picked up the saxophone and played "A Whiter Shade Of Pale", one of the highlights of the night showing everyone turnstile. He followed that covering Elton John's song "Daniel" on the sax. Jimmy then introduced his son Jayson (who was singing back up with his sister April). Jayson played a song with the guitarist from his band Turnstyle. It could be described as metal funk (check out www.turnstylemuzik.com to hear some of his music). Jimmy returned to play his new single "If You Don't Want My Lovin'" (which can be purchased at http://www.jimmycastor.com/cds.html .) Next was "It's Just Begun", the highlight of the evening for me. Jimmy gave a blazing sax solo that led to a great guitar solo by David. The show ended with the crowd groovin' to "E-Man Boogie". Jimmy was given a standing ovation.

    Jimmy Castor is a great entertainer and truly "The Everything Man". He's a singer, writer, producer, arranger, saxophonist, and percussionist, who incorporates funk, soul, rock, pop, latin and more in his music. People always mention Sly and Prince when discussing artists who fused different genres of music, but somehow leave out Jimmy Castor. He's covered songs from a wide variety of artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Elton John, Roberta Flack, Barry Manilow, The Delphonics and Procol Harum. It's a shame he doesn't get the recognition he deserves.

    The Jimmy Castor Bunch is one of the best performing bands I've seen… period! I had a great time at the show hearing Jimmy do all his hits live (not to mention seeing Flavor Flav tear it up on the dance floor for 20 minutes!). If you ever get a chance to see Jimmy Castor live, do yourself a favor and go! You won't be disappointed! I'd like to thank Jimmy Castor, Jimmy Castor Jr. and April Castor for their hospitality and making it a night I won't soon forget.

    --Jose Munoz

    Jimmy Castor (The Everything Man) on Soul-Patrol

    I think it's Time someone put the damn E-MAN into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.....

    Jimmy Castor is one of the most under recognized talents in the history of popular music. I saw the Jimmy Castor Bunch perform live in the old Singer Bowl at the World's Fairgrounds in Queens back in the 70's and let me tell you, they put on one hell of a live show.

    They did everything from Funk, Boogaloo, Soul, Latin, Doo Wop, Rock n' Roll, Slow Jams, Instrumentals, Comedy and more. Add to that, his music has been and continues to be a MAJOR influence on hip hop!

    His music is totally representative of the streets of NYC.

    Jimmy Castor is to NYC what Chuck Brown is to Washington DC and what Rufus Thomas is to Memphis. His music represents all that is great about the musical legacy of the city!

    When Jimmy Castor calls himself the..."EVERYTHING MAN"
    He's not just bragging...

    He's an outstanding vocal performer, dancer, sax player, writer, producer who has the ability to not only take off beat concepts and turn them into popular phenomena, but also does so with a notion that we would later see emulated by artists like Prince, where he uses the ENTIRE legacy of the Black music and entertainment experience to achive his artistic goals!


    so why doesn't he get the props he deserves?

    --Bob Davis

    An Interview With the E-Man

  • LISTEN TO SOUL-PATROL'S TRIBUTE TO THE "EVERYTHING MAN" JIMMY CASTOR: I Promise To Remember, I Got Something For Ya, It's Just Begun, Potential, Super Sound, Space Age, Maximum Stimulation, Whiter Shade of Pale, Purple Haze/Foxy Lady, Hey Leroy, Bertha Butt, Troglodyte, King Kong


  • It's the 25th anniversary of Elvis' death and the E-man himself is on the cramped stage with his eight-piece band. He brings his tenor sax to his mouth, is about to blow then pauses, scanning the room. It's been a tight, sweaty, hour-long set; we've been doused us with hit after funky hit, yet there is one we've all been thirsting for. "You tell them we were here people! You tell them: I put it back together now, and it's bad, it's bad. Now watch out. This is a pandemonium number right here." And with that he wails on his sax, the staccato notes quickly climbing then dropping, climbing, then dropping: the calling card which brings the Rock Steady Crew out from the woodwork, giving us the cue that the show has truly just begun. The audience clears a circle of space in front of the stage as the veteran breakdance troupe (ancient by breakdancer standards) shuffles forward. The Everything Man, drumsticks now in hand, begins ratatatating on his timbales over the speed metal like churning of the fuzzy bass, the pulsing clavinet and driving drums, daring, forcing the Rock Steady Crew to pop, spin, twist and defy gravity as if it were 1983 and Flashdance was coming to a theater near you. The crowd literally shrieks with glee at the sight. Soon everyone at S.O.B.'s is moving to the irrepressible funk, chanting over and over with the E-man and his band, "It's just begun…It's just begun…It's just begun!" the level of noise and rhythm reaching a frenzy, pushing the room's parameters until it feels we are going to burst onto the streets of downtown Manhattan, one big mess of Funk.

    If you have been to a Jimmy Castor concert within the last thirty years then you know exactly what I am talking about. Unfortunately, they are--like the vinyl he put out--rare finds nowadays. I was blessed, however, to imbibe the electricity of the living legend during three Manhattan shows over a two-day period late last August (he actually did four but I missed one). It was his first NYC appearance in ten years. Knowing from past experience that New Yorkers are usually hip to such rare showings by musical giants (e.g. the previous week New Yorkers paid loving tribute to Ray Charles and Arthur Lee & Love, selling out the Beacon and Bowery Ballroom), I bought my tickets to the S.O.B.'s show well in advance. Thus, it was to my great surprise when the chic downtown club was far from filled; I had witnessed many lesser acts fill the tropically-styled place to the rim. Those who did show up seemed to be mostly friends and family, with a few European tourists, diehard funk fans and ageing break dancers in the mix. Where was everyone else?

    Well, while the rest of you were all teary-eyed watching Elvis tributes on the Nashville Channel during this sweltering Friday night, we (including one potbellied brotha' with a beautifully monstrous afro and medallion set) were not left disappointed. The real E-man and his eight-piece funky Bunch blasted through his classic catalog with clavinet, keyboard, electric guitar, six string bass, congas, drums, backup vocals (his daughter), and Mr. Castor himself-sporting fly cherry red blazer and matching loafers-on alto and tenor sax, timbales and, of course, vocals. It was a recipe they would follow the next day at the Harlem Week 135th street stage and then further uptown at the Flash Inn.

    Describing Jimmy Castor's music is a challenge. If you threw together a dash and twist of Little Richard and Frankie Lymon, a whiff of James Brown, the fat of Larry Graham's bass and Sly's sensibility, then mix in a cup of King Curtis's horn, a pint of Pucho and his Latin Soul Brothers, a helping of Hendrix's wail, then splash in equally Sun Ra's sci-fi, Screaming Jay Hawkins's scream, Steve Lawrence's phrasing and Kid Creole's calypso, you would maybe have an idea of how his Harlem Soul Stew tastes.

    Using Jimmy Castor as a lens one can view the last forty-five years of popular music, be it sugar-coated doo wop, psychedelic rock, Latin soul, R & B, heavy funk, electric disco, or hip-hop. He has done it all. He performed at the Apollo at age eight; earned his first royalty check of at age twelve for "Promise to Remember"; managed to churn out sixteen genre-bending albums (as well as a few Xmas songs), birthing such booty-shaking tunes as "Hey, Leroy," "It's Just Begun," "Troglogdyte," and the "Bertha Butt Boogie"; played to sold-out crowds from the Cow Palace to Madison Square Garden, from Panama to Saudi Arabia; been sampled over 3000 times, from the Beastie Boys to the Spice Girls to Rage Against the Machine; and who can still give an interview part Cassius Clay, Sammy Davis Jr. and Jim Carrey.

    Before the S.O.B.'s show I was fortunate enough to catch up with the E-man (a name he has trademarked, by the way, "so don't try it") in his dressing room. Not only is he spirited; he is one heck of a nice guy. With lightning speed Mr. Castor expounded on a vast array of topics.

  • LISTEN TO SOUL-PATROL'S TRIBUTE TO THE "EVERYTHING MAN" JIMMY CASTOR: I Promise To Remember, I Got Something For Ya, It's Just Begun, Potential, Super Sound, Space Age, Maximum Stimulation, Whiter Shade of Pale, Purple Haze/Foxy Lady, Hey Leroy, Bertha Butt, Troglodyte, King Kong

    Q. How did you get the NYC gigs? You haven't played here in nearly ten years. Why did you wait so long?

    A. The time was right. I'm working on some new songs and I wanted to play again. I knew that to do it right, to see if I was ready, I'd have to come to New York City and play for the people.

    Q. How did you end up at S.O.B.'s?

    A. Well, it's a tie-in. Last night: Marcus Garvey Park; tonight: S.O.B.'s; tomorrow-

    Q. You were at Marcus Garvey Park last night? A free concert? Are you serious?

    A. Yeah, we broke the record. Roy Ayers had the record. We broke it last night. Unbelievable. The turn out was just incredible. Thousands of people. I felt really good about it.

    Q. You were pushing all sorts of musical styles in the late 60s, through the 70s- Ahead of its time. You and a band like Mandrill, pushing the latin funk, calypso…I can imagine that for the strict and traditional major labels you were very difficult (in their eyes) to promote.
    A. Definitely, they tried to pigeonhole me. Urban department, Black department…You know, I just didn't care. I was the Everything Man-the E-man-so I did everything.

    Q. What were some influences on your beginnings in music?

    A. Being raised uptown on Sugarhill, there were lots of Dominicans and Puerto Ricans, so I was influenced by the great Tito Puente, of course, the West Indian, calypso that you hear in my music, King Curtis on tenor saxophone…The ballads, the singing, the Delfonics, the high voice, I could do it all. I was trained. I went to Music and Art High School. I studied theory. Bach, Mozart, everyone. You couldn't get out of that school unless you knew all of that. Even before that I was with Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. I was Frankie's stand-in and I wrote "I Promise to Remember," and I saw what was happening and I said, 'Wow, this is what I want to do!' What I saw when I went on the stage it was just unbelievable. So it was in my heart to do it and I ended up doing it. And as far as being pigeonholed, I got to the point in my career-Well let's put it this way. I started with Frankie and the Teenagers, and then started studying my saxophone.

    Q. That was your first instrument?

    A. No, I started on the violin. But I hated the violin, oh man. So I went to the saxophone in 7th grade and then I was told I should take the test for Music and Art High School. And in order to get into there you had to be able to play one instrument plus keyboards, so I took lessons and I got into Bach and luckily passed the test. And in that school-the Castle on the Hill--was Billy Dee Williams and lots of talent walking around. We had four years of music theory. Then I picked up the clarinet, timbales. I didn't master them but I could play. I started writing. I started doing sessions.

    Q. Sessions for who?

    A. I did "Rinky Dink" with Dave 'Baby' Cortez. I did a lot of sessions, up and down Broadway, up and down Broadway, trying to hustle. Doing the big clubs in New York. Trudy Heller's The Trick, Small's Paradise, Club Baron…I mean, ya know, I was king of the dances. And I would do (hums calypso intro to "Hey Leroy") and people started dancing to this…the best thing to see is the actual Public accepting something, and every time I did it, it was infectious. So I went into the studio one rainy morning and I cut this and I just said, you know, coming from the quote, unquote, "Ghetto"… "Hey, Leroy, your mama, she's callin you man," you know. And then everyone turned it down. Neal Bogart, everyone said, "Ugh, what are you doing?" So, I knew that I would have to cut something that would sell immediately. I didn't have time to get into a thing and after two weeks a record company puts it on a shelf. I had to-"Your Mama!" Your mama, wow. Maaan, Dick Clark called me up and I did American Bandstand. And I wasn't doing that well, I was playing clubs and everything, and he called me up and said (in beautiful Dick Clark diction) "Hi Jimmy it's Dick Clark." I said, "Yeah whatever." And he said, "Jimmy, would you like to play Whiskey a Go Go, would you like to do American Bandstand, would you like to be where the action is?" Boom! I did that and I never looked back. Because a record…You can be a Top 40 in a club band forever, it doesn't mean anything. Doing everyone else's hits. But if you have a hit record?

    Q. And "Hey, Leroy" was definitely a hit record

    A. Yeah, and everybody turned that record down. But it was Sammy Davis Jr. who took it to Mercury and told Luchi De Jesus (head of the Urban/Latin dept.) and Luchi says, "I love this let's do it!" The president of the company-Charlie Fach-says, "It's garbage, we can't do that." Luchi said, "Let's do an album and put it out." The rest is history. We're selling 250,000 records a day here, which they had never heard of. All of the distributors jumped on it. And then of course I ran into the problem you were talking about.

    Q. Of being pigeonholed?

    A. Yes. The next thing I knew I was coming with "Hey Willie, get out of bed man. It's time to go to school, you know you're stupid," which is on the album. And they said, "We want you to play saxophone you sound just like Jr. Walker since you play so well." And I said, "But I'm not Jr. Walker." So that ended my relationship there. And, of course, back to the clubs.

  • LISTEN TO SOUL-PATROL'S TRIBUTE TO THE "EVERYTHING MAN" JIMMY CASTOR: I Promise To Remember, I Got Something For Ya, It's Just Begun, Potential, Super Sound, Space Age, Maximum Stimulation, Whiter Shade of Pale, Purple Haze/Foxy Lady, Hey Leroy, Bertha Butt, Troglodyte, King Kong

    The sun sets over the hill, casting City College's gothic silhouette over St. Nicholas Park. A new hip hop duo has just performed on the 135th St. stage and, though they are good, aren't much different than anything else being pushed on Hot 97. People mill about, chewing on Jamaican patties and drinking anything cold on this muggy evening. The Harlem Week Festival is coming to a close, signaling as it has the previous 27 years that summer is nearly over. Eventually, Harlem's own assumes the stage, ready to keep the block party moving. A baggy-pantsed group of teenage boys pass by, one yelling, "Get off the stage old man, who you?!" Without missing a beat a middle-aged Bertha retorts, "That's Jimmy Castor, fool, now go home, it's past your bedtime!"
    The Bunch are ready. "I used to live right over here on 141st street," Jimmy tells the gathering crowd, as he suddenly appears from nowhere. "Now see if you can familiarize yourself with these nine notes." Paul Forney's heavy bass kicks in, playing the nine-note intro of "Potential." Many people sing along, "Walking down the street one daaay, yeaaaah…" as sounds from another era echo between the buildings. Afterwards Jimmy tells his people, "I sold records everywhere because of Harlem and god bless you I want to thank you. They used to call me Butch on 141st street, I was a war councilor, but then I wanted more. So one day I got my timbale drums, " Castor grabs his sticks. "Somebody whistle for me." A few hundred people in the crowd oblige.

    The E-man responds with "Hey Leroy!"
    A bunch of Leroys shout back, "What!"

    A. "This is 1966," continues Castor. "I mean, I'm only 22, but this was 1966" He plays his timbales as the band softly introduces the calypso beat. "Your mama! I started playing this at Small's Paradise and everybody started dancing one day, and I said, Whoa, I think we got a hit record here…She callin' you man!" And with that the band let's loose and the crowd begins to dance, chanting along, "Call your mama…call your mama…"

    Though we are outside, the heat, music and moving bodies make it feel as if we're in a stuffy club. The E-man and his funky Bunch are relentless, taking us through a medley of "Troglodyte" and "Bertha Butt Boogie," before giving us a breather with "Whiter Shade of Pale" and King Curtis' "Soul Serenade." The band has found their groove and Jimmy gives the signal to crank it up another notch with the showstopper, "It's Just Begun." Though the Rock Steady Crew fail to appear, a few young men take up the charge and break dance on the sidewalk. Keeping the crowd moving, the band closes the show with the percussive funk of the 1975 jam, "E-man Boogie," with Jimmy tearing up his timbales like the late Tito Puente. And then, as suddenly as he arrived, Jimmy Castor slips away into the night.

    Then I heard Sly. Wow. Jimi Hendrix. Wow.
    Me, Sly and Jimi were always hangin' out, and of course they destroyed themselves, but I never drank or did drugs so I was kinda' cool. Jimi says, "I wanna do 'Hey, Leroy.'" So he puts it on his Smash Hits album. So I said I wanna do one of your songs. I loved "Foxy Lady" but it's to the music of "Purple Haze." It's on the Phase Two album. And so Sly says, "I want to do 'Hamhocks Espanol.'" But I thought I was Sly. I had never seen anybody bring the races together like that. Larry Graham and Freddie…I mean, it's the greatest sound. If you put it on now, it's Super Genius. And, I started moving towards that and all of a sudden I said (in a deep, gravelly voice), "C' mere! C'mere!" You know, I started to get really earthy and here comes "Troglodyte," which was a filler for the album. And then "It's Just Begun." We were really working together. We took that around and everybody turned it down until finally RCA said, "Okay, I'll put it out." And Jim Schwartz said, "The first week no album has sold like that since Isaac Hayes' Shaft album."
    And then, again, I didn't look back. Phase Two. Dimension III. And then in Dimension III a "Whiter Shade of Pale" (which I'll do tonight), and "Bridge Over Troubled Water"…I started getting into other forms of music, you know. And the label said, "What is he trying to be Lawrence Welk?" And that was it. That was all they had to tell me at a label, I don't care how it is, I'm gone. They said, "Well Jimmy we feel-" No don't feel for me I'm gone. You know, so I'm hanging out and unfortunately my mentor on saxophone-King Curtis-was murdered. So Atlantic said, "We gotta get him because he can play like King Curtis. So here I go. A new album. And my partner says to me, "Ya know, since you do everything, you should be called the Everything Man. The E-Man. And in fact, I trademarked that, so it's E-man with a circled "R", so don't try it, Matt, I own that now.


    Anyway, so now I'm the Everything Man. So we put that out. Great album. Cover. Everything. I was doing everything. Timbales, horns…"Didn't I blow your mind," "Look at the two of us" (check). Cuz I was heading toward Vegas. I wasn't going to hang in this cutthroat record bizness, trying to pay to get everything done, you know what I mean? I had had it! I was eleven years old when I wrote "I Promise to Remember." I had just had it, man. And the tours. I ended up in Panama, Saudi Arabia one day, I said, "Whoa, okay." So I put out The Everything Man. Great album. They didn't hear it. So I said, "Shoot…(in a deep voice) Bom Bom Bom a Dom!" And boom, another hit. Because everybody said, "Why don't you give Bertha a record?" And so I gave it to her. That was it. Maaan, Dinah Shore, Johnny Carson, you know, again, it was super. I've been blessed. And all my training comes, you know, I'm just a musician before anything. And then it really got started. So I said let's get into it: "Bertha encounters Vader," "Luther the Anthropoid," "King Kong," I mean…number one in Japan. So I'm riding high. I'm selling out Madison Square Garden. But they're only pressing 50,000 records for me. You gotta press 500,000 for me, right. But that was their way of holding me back.

    Q. Who?

    A. The good ol' boys. He's a triple threat, he does too much. I was corporate anyway, so I could sit and talk. I mean, I didn't sit down at the table and say, "Yo, whassup man, wha' chew goin' do wit me n' the label?" No, we talked, and they didn't want to hear that. They just want you to play what they want you to play. So I wore out my welcome at Atlantic. I asked for a release. Every time I asked for a release. I was never dropped. And then I decided to start my own label. But Henry Stone came along with T.K. records and said, "No, I love this album you did," and he gave me a lot of money and so I went down there. But he was going towards his end. K.C. was over. I knew I was over when I went down there to sign the contract and we were in his office and the secretary comes in and says, "Excuse me Henry but K.C. is on the phone," and he wouldn't take the call. I said to myself, "Oh that's the end of this label." Because K.C. was the label.

    Q. K.C. and the Sunshine Band?

  • LISTEN TO SOUL-PATROL'S TRIBUTE TO THE "EVERYTHING MAN" JIMMY CASTOR: I Promise To Remember, I Got Something For Ya, It's Just Begun, Potential, Super Sound, Space Age, Maximum Stimulation, Whiter Shade of Pale, Purple Haze/Foxy Lady, Hey Leroy, Bertha Butt, Troglodyte, King Kong

    A. Right. So we put out Let It Out. Loved the cover, me in a white suit and everything. Did "You Light Up My Life"…did Dinah Shore and everything but nothing happened with it. Then, Atlantic comes around the bend again and says, "You know, we'd love you to do something else with us again," so I did. We did The Jimmy Castor Bunch. Got into disco. But, no promotion. The story of my life is no promotion. When you're a person of color, you're as good as your last record. It comes in spurts. When you're a person of color it comes in spurts. There's no consistent marketing or promotion.
    Bon Jovi. I've heard Bon Jovi say, "I'll be off for four years." That's death for me, you know. So I had to do records to sell immediately. I didn't have time to get to the bridge, as James Brown would say. I had to hook 'em right away. "What we're gonna do right now is go back," "Bom Bom," "Attention please attention please Godzilla is now approaching Tokyo. Please evacuate city. Women and children first." Then they said, "Oh, I want that!" You know what I mean? But they didn't promote it. Like I've always said, I've had a lot of R & R in the music business. And I don't mean Rest and Relaxation; I mean Racism and Rejection. You're only as good as your last record. Look at Bruce. All of a sudden America needs Bruce Springsteen. He hasn't been out, now they need him, okay. Bruce Springsteen, the hard-working man's blue-collar, please. Living in a mansion's mansion. He has a mansion inside of his mansion. So cut it out Bruce with your phony Southern accent. I know you're cool, cuz you got Clarence in the group and everything, but let me tell you something man, cut it out. You've made enough. You wrote some great songs by the way: I loved Philadelphia. You should have stopped there.

    So that was 1956, "I Promise to Remember." Forty-five years ago-
    Matt, I'm only 22 years old, how could you say that?

    It's been a long road. I've done sixteen albums. And I've never been weak. See, I've been on the bus from the beginning. I started touring with Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Lloyd Price, Bill Haley & the Comets, Little Richard, Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers, the Platters, all on the same bus, and we're with Allan Freed, and he's goin' (deep voice) "This is rock and roll." And I'm looking up at everybody. And I can only work weekends because my mother said, "No, he has to stay in school! No tutors!" So I've forgotten more than most people know. It's as simple as that. And I know it. I don't flaunt it, unless you ask me. So, I'm sorry, ask me something.

    Q. Why wasn't "It's Just Begun" ever released as a single?

    A. Dumbness. Let me tell you something. You want to hear the worst thing in the world what RCA did to me. "It's Just Begun" became an underground cult thing. This movie approaches me. Paramount says, "Listen, Jimmy, we got a movie called Flashdance and we want to use your song." I said okay, of course. "But you have to record it over." I said no problem. I owned the publishing and writing, but they RCA owned the master. But we didn't have enough time to re-record it. Yet, it's the second best song in that movie, if you ask me. (Sings.) "Whaat a feeeeling!" you can't beat that song. But it's better than "Maniac." That's garbage. They had to really look for something. But I'll tell you what happened. They didn't put "It's Just Begun" on the soundtrack. So here I go. I'm on Atlantic. Five million records the first week! So I'm thinking I'm going to be well-off. I go to the music store: it's not on there. I walk up the street from Atlantic to RCA. I am mad. I go in there and kick the door down. I say, "How come you didn't put 'It's Just Begun' on the soundtrack?" You wanna know his answer? "I don't know." So when you ask me how come it wasn't a single, I'm lucky it got out! That was such a lily white label, that they never had anyone "crossover." I've always been Pop, R&B, Funk. That's what I am. I'm not just R&B. You can a #1 R&B record and still have nothing. I always went for the jugular. #4 Pop, that's when you make money.

    Q. What do you think about hip hop being so big and and taking over the music scene?

    A. Hip hop has been fairly good to me. In the beginning it wasn't, when people like the Beastie Boys just raped my music. C'mon man, as LLCoolJ said to me one day, 'You can't do that to the man's music! That's like taking someone's vintage car out of the driveway and just driving it away!' And that's true. I've been sampled over 3000 times and when they pay, I love it. But you always have to remember that the children are listening. Nowadays, the profanity, it seems it's all about pornography. It's just unbelievable. I saw a video the other night where a guy is under the table with a girl (and he's a producer) and he's on top of her and they showed it on BET News and he was sitting back there with his hat cocked and he was being interviewed…c'mon, that's not cool! Let me tell you something what's happening out here with these kids with thongs up their behinds and hot tubs and Bentleys, they think that's what life is about! Man, those nine year-old girls look at that, when they're eleven they're pregnant. Hello! Genocide. I saw Master P give his son $100,000 in front of those kids on BET the other night. Wow, he just said, 'It's his birfday uhuhuh.' He can't even talk! First of all, what's he master of? Hey, Master P, I'm talking to you! What are you master of? See, I play a lot of instruments. I don't claim to master them. I am the E. They call me the E. Not Elvis. I'm the E-man.

    It's nearing midnight. The blue neon lights from Yankee Stadium reflect off the East River and filter through the front door of the Flash Inn. Old-school waiters, bedecked in red serving jackets, serve drinks and mediocre Italian food. In fact, everything about the place is a throwback to an era of Cuban cigars and backroom deals. This is a private party thrown by the organizers of Harlem Week, though most of them have left by the time the Jimmy Castor Bunch sail into "Soul Serenade." Two long-time Castor fans-DJ Kool Herc and Kurtis Blow--remain, however, to hear the E-man boogie. The Flash Inn, narrow and angular, was obviously not designed for live performances or boogying however. Spread against a mirrored wall and squeezed into the space of two pool tables, the Bunch is definitely feeling bunched.

    "I'm gonna do some stuff for Kurtis and Kool tonight," Jimmy tells the mostly sitting crowd of thirty or so. "I'm glad to meet Kurtis Blow, finally."

    Despite the lack of legroom, the band manages to throw the groove anyway, ripping through a medley of "Hey, Leroy," and "Space Age." Jimmy stops only to kibbutz with Kurtis. "You know, I invented some things like 'Right On!' But Kurtis…Kurtis came out and said, 'That's the Breaks!' Paul's gonna hit nine notes for Kurtis." The bass notes of "Potential" bounce off the mirrored walls, and soon people are dancing in whatever space between tables and chairs they can find, right on through abridged versions of "Bertha Butt Boogie," "Troglodyte," "King Kong," and Joe Cuba's "Bang, Bang"-as if it were a Kool Herc DJ set.

    Though not created with acoustics in mind, the Flash Inn proves to harbor the best sound of the three gigs. This becomes most evident as the Jimmy Castor Bunch bring the short, packed trip to a close with a thunderous version of "It's Just Begun." Pushing the meaty breakbeat that has driven breakdancers' legs crazy for 25 years, the band grinds and pushes until the mirrors are rattling and the people cheering wildly. Afterwards, Jimmy shouts, "The Flash Inn will never be the same. I have labeled it. The ceiling is weak! I like that. Let's do that again, I want the ceiling to come off. One two three!" And the band picks up the break where it left off. The E-man seems possessed as he bangs on his timbales, yelling and looking up at the ceiling as if casting a spell, "It's just begun…it's just begun." Suddenly, he breaks away, whipping around the room, pointing at his spellbound people, as we chant with him. He then returns and bangs away on his timbales, one last time, and tells us again how it's just begun.

    "I'm outta here. Peace," he says when it's over. And then, in his best Elvis voice, "Thank ya' very much."

    --Matt Rogers

  • LISTEN TO SOUL-PATROL'S TRIBUTE TO THE "EVERYTHING MAN" JIMMY CASTOR: I Promise To Remember, I Got Something For Ya, It's Just Begun, Potential, Super Sound, Space Age, Maximum Stimulation, Whiter Shade of Pale, Purple Haze/Foxy Lady, Hey Leroy, Bertha Butt, Troglodyte, King Kong

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