Born: August 13, 1921 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
A 1990-1991 Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award winner, Jimmy McCracklin will forever be known as one of the architects of the West Coast blues sound, and among certain audiences, one of its biggest stars. One of the most prolific R&B songwriters with over 40 albums to his credit, a fine pianist, and deeply moving vocalist, McCracklin is a consummate showman who still dazzles crowds with his huge revue band in the great tradition of classic Rhythm 'n' Blues.
Jimmy was born in Helena, Arkansas in 1921, he moved to St. Louis where he learned piano from blues legend Walter Davis. In the mid '40s he fought as a professional boxer under the name Jimmy Mackey, engaging in over 23 bouts. Moving to California, he made his record debut in 1945 and through the late '40s and early '50s, in Richmond and Oakland, he made some of his greatest recordings for Modern, Peacock and Swingtime Records.
In 1957 he had a great hit for Chess called The Walk, which became a R&B classic and crossover hit, hitting #2 on the pop and R&B charts. An appearance on Dick Clark's American Bandstand further propelled him to stardom. Hit after hit followed in the '50s and early '60s for McCracklin, with such titles as Georgia Stop, Just Get To Know, Shame, Shame, Shame, Every Night, Every Day, My Answer, and Think. He also penned Tramp, a big hit for Lowell Fulson. He toured and shared billing with James Brown, Ray Charles, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Jimmy Reed and Aretha Franklin, to name a few. He also recorded for Stax, where he was produced by Willie Mitchell and backed by the Memphis Horns. His songs have been covered by B.B. King, Roomful of Blues, Tom Jones, Salt 'n' Pepa, Ice Cube, Otis Redding, Elvin Bishop, Rufus Thomas, Los Lobos and Elvis Presley, among others.
In the last couple of years McCracklin has recorded several contemporary blues and R&B CDs for Bullseye Records, with backing from Irma Thomas, Johnny Otis, Barbara Lynn and John Mooney. He has also shared the stage recently with such luminaries as Lyle Lovett, Dr. John, Los Lobos, Chris Isaak and Bonnie Raitt.
With 50 plus years in the entertainment business, he remains active and continues to tour, doing club dates, festivals, and concerts around the country and Europe. He is also one of the remaining legends of R&B and a national treasure.
Source: James Nadal