I Remember the E-Man! PDF Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 20 November 2012 22:33

I Remember the E-Man!

Jimmy Castor was an icon in show business, Rock and Roll, R&B and the Funk. His journey began as a child prodigy in New York City and singing in neighborhood doo-wop groups. He grew up with and went to the same public school with the members of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. While still in Junior High School he wrote “I Promise To Remember” for the group, which became a million seller. He sometimes sang with them as well, and led his own group known as Jimmy Castor and the Juniors. They would release “Somebody Mentioned Your Name” on Atomic Records in 1957. His group would also release their version of “I Promise To Remember” as well. Jimmy free-lanced as a studio musician and was hired to play the saxophone on the Dave (Baby) Cortez hit “Rinky Dink” in 1962. After completing his college education Jimmy released “Hey Leroy Your Mama’s Calling You,” on Mercury Records in 1966 which became a big hit for him. The “Hey Leroy” album soon followed in 1968 and was released on Smash Records. By 1972, the Jimmy Castor Bunch was formed as a new act and the Funk classic “Troglodyte (Cave Man)” was released. The song sold over a million copies and went up to #4 on the R&B charts and #6 on the U.S. Pops charts. Like “Hey Leroy” this song contained Jimmy Castor idioms like "What we're gonna do right here is go back...". An album followed titled “It's Just Begun”, which contained favorites “It's Just Begun”, “Psyche”, “L. T. D. (Life, Truth & Death)”, “Bad”, a re-recording of “I Promise To Remember” as well as others. His success at RCA resulted with the album “Phase Two” in 1972 which gave the fans “Say Leroy (The Creature From The Black Lagoon Is Your Father)”, “Luther The Anthropoid (Ape Man)”,Party Life”, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”, “Tribute To Jimi: Purple Haze / Foxey Lady” and other great tunes. His last album with RCA was “Dimension III” released in 1973. On this outing Jimmy recorded some beautiful saxophone ballads like “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Soul Serenade” and “Whiter Shade Of Pale”. He began to call himself the E-Man or the Everything Man, because he boosted that he played everything from the saxophone to the timbales. It began to stick. He became dissatisfied with RCA Records and soon parted ways with them. In 1974 he would start a new relationship with Atlantic Records and the hits would follow. Now billed as The Jimmy Castor Bunch Featuring the Everything Man, they quickly turned out two albums that year. The first of which was titled “Jimmy Castor (The Everything Man) And The Jimmy Castor Bunch” which contained mostly beautiful ballads like Didn't I Blow Your Mind This Time, Love's Theme and For All We Know. The single and hit was Maggie, which was a slow funky ballad and a cover of the group Redbone. Larger success came to Jimmy with the second album that year called Butt Of Course... which contained hits “E-Man Boogie”, “Bertha Butt Boogie” and “Potential”. The Jimmy Castor characters and his humorous idioms were present plus “Bertha Butt Boogie” was sort a sequel toTroglodyte (Cave Man)”. This became one of his biggest hits and another signature piece. The following year gave the fans the Supersound album which resulted in two hits; Supersound and King Kong. His formula of comic book characters, science fiction and Hollywood monster themes continued to work for him. Similar types of things were working for Parliament-Funkadelic and Earth Wind & Fire with bigger than life and fantasy themes. The E-Man Groovin' album was released in 1976, and its hit was “Space Age” which did well on the R&B charts. The Maximum Stimulation album was released in 1977 with the title track as the single. From this point on, his position on the charts began to fall and he was not able to recover.

Jimmy Castor was one of my first interviews on the Funk Show. I remember being a little nervous after he agreed to do the interview. I was one of his biggest fans, I had seen his act about three times and I knew how important he was to the Funk. I decided that I would just stick to his musical history and discuss it with him in chronological order. During the interview he talked about his early days in Manhattan, free lancing as a sideman and recording as a solo artist. He kept switching the conversation back to Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. I had not done any research on the group, so I shifted our conversation back to The Jimmy Castor Bunch and he would eventually switch it back to Frankie Lymon. We went back and forth a few times and it did not take long for me to realize that he wanted to talk about Frankie Lymon. So, I pushed back my notes and I let him talk. I discovered that he loved Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and that they were the group that opened the doors for him. He wanted the public to know who the real Frankie Lymon was. The 1988 movie Why Do Fools Fall in Love was based on the life of Frankie Lymon, and he said that it was a pack of lies. He said that the movie depicted Frankie Lymon as a womanizer and a drug addict, which he said was untrue. He had mentioned that he had wanted to do his own movie on the real life of Frankie Lymon.

Jimmy Castor passed away on January 16, 2012 at the age of 71. The legacy of Jimmy Castor is that he was an important chapter in the history of the Funk during the 1970’s. His music of “Troglodyte (Cave Man)”,It's Just Begun”, “King Kong” and “Bertha Butt Boogie“ were all important fabric of the 1970’s Funk. The only live recording of the Jimmy Castor Bunch is captured on the RCA Records soundtrack to the 1973 concert “Keep The Dream Alive; Martin Luther King”. He had told me that this album was a collector’s item. When I spoke with him and whenever he would e-mail me, he would always say “Howard keep teaching. Keep teaching the importance of our music to the people and to the young people”. I feel fortunate to have had conversation with Jimmy Castor and discuss the history of R&B and the Funk. Jimmy Castor has been on my mind, because I am working on a forthcoming book containing ten of my best interviews. The first chapter will be on Jimmy Castor. He left a big impression on me. I will continue to teach and I Remember the E-Man

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 11:47