Jimmy McCracklin (August 13, 1921 – December 20, 2012) was an American pianist, vocalist, and songwriter. His style contained West Coast blues, Jump blues, and R&B. Over a career that spanned seven decades, he said he had written almost a thousand songs and had recorded hundreds of them. McCracklin recorded over 30 albums, and earned four gold records. Tom Mazzolini of the San Francisco Blues Festival said of him, "He was probably the most important musician to come out of the Bay Area in the post-World War II years."
McCracklin was born James David Walker on 13 August 1921. Sources differ as to whether he was born in Helena, Arkansas or St. Louis, Missouri. He joined the United States Navy in 1938, later settled in Richmond, California, and began playing at the local Club Savoy owned by his sister-in-law Willie Mae "Granny" Johnson. The room-length bar served beer and wine, and Granny Johnson served home-cooked meals of greens, ribs, chicken, and other southern cuisine. A house band composed of Bay Area based musicians alternated with and frequently backed performers such as B. B. King, Charles Brown, and L. C. Robinson. Later in 1963 he would write and record a song "Club Savoy" on his I Just Gotta Know album.
His recorded a debut single for Globe Records, "Miss Mattie Left Me", in 1945, and recorded "Street Loafin' Woman in 1946. McCracklin recorded for a number of labels in Los Angeles and Oakland, prior to joining Modern Records in 1949-1950. He formed a group called Jimmy McCracklin and his Blues Blasters in 1946, with guitarist Lafayette Thomas who remained with group until the early 1960s.
His popularity increased after appearing on the TV pop Dick Clark's American Bandstand in support of his self-written single "The Walk" (1957), subsequently released by Checker Records in 1958. It went to No. 5 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 7 on the pop chart, after more than 10 years of McCracklin selling records in the black community on a series of small labels.
(Check out this track from 1999...it's my favorite McCracklin tune)
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