Spectropop remembers

JOE JONES (1926 - 2005)

Singer, producer and bandleader Joe Jones, having battled cancer in recent years, has died in Los Angeles following complications after bypass surgery. He was 79.

He enlivened the US pop charts, both with his own work and through his career as a talent-spotter and manager. A voluble personality, he at times came close to matching the persona portrayed by his big hit, "You Talk Too Much".

Jones was born in New Orleans in 1926 and took to music when he was very young. After serving in the Navy during World War II, he trained at the Juilliard Conservatory and then went on to work at a university in New Orleans. Eventually he broke into the music scene as a bandleader for the likes of B. B. King, playing the piano and arranging music. He formed the band Joe Jones and his Atomic Rebops, the first of many that he would lead, employing a pool of New Orleans musicians including Melvin Lastie, Lee Allens and Harold Battiste, all of whom would go on to carve out substantial careers.

In 1954 Jones cut his first record, "Adam Bit The Apple". He recorded "You Talk Too Much" in 1959, but it stayed in the can for the year until it featured in a low-budget horror movie, The Dead One. Released on the New Orleans label Ric, it was taken up by the New York-based company Roulette and became a No 3 hit. The follow-up, "One Big Mouth (Two Big Ears)", did not do as well. His last hit was "California Sun", which broke into the Top 100 in 1961. Three years later a cover version by Indiana band the Rivieras reached No 5.

Jones failed to see any real money from the sale of his records and became transfixed with learning about the business side of the recording industry. He then turned to management and production. He spotted the Dixie Cups at a talent show and got them a deal with Red Bird Records. Their first record, "Chapel Of Love", became a No 1 in 1964. He also managed the group's guitarist, Alvin Robinson.

Jones moved to Los Angeles in 1976 and started a music publishing business. He also campaigned to help black artists of the 1950s and 1960s to regain their rights to material they had signed away in dubious deals with record companies.

He is survived by his wife Marion, four sons, three daughters, 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A fourth daughter died 15 years ago.

(Adapted from obituaries in The L. A. Times and The Times)

Joe Jones, bandleader, singer and producer:
born August 12th, 1926 - died November 27th, 2005