Blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon, best known for his 1940s and '50s R&B hits
such as "Ain't Nobody's Business" died last week of natural causes in his
Los Angeles home. He was 74.
Witherspoon, or "Spoon" as friends knew him, sang his blues primarily with
jazz artists, drawing on their notions of time and phrasing. In 1959, he
boosted his career with a legendary performance at the Monterey Jazz
Festival, and during the '60s performed often with Count Basie. Over the
next decade, Witherspoon worked with several artists, including Eric Burdon
of the Animals and jazz organist Richard "Groove" Holmes.
His career catalog included dozens of albums. In recent years, Witherspoon
appeared alongside Van Morrison on Morrison's Grammy-nominated A Night
In San Francisco (1994) album. Witherspoon's own Live at the
Mint record was nominated for the best traditional blues Grammy in
1995. The following year, he played the part of a bluesman named Trucker
in the film Georgia with Jennifer Jason Leigh and John Doe of the
band X. -- Chris Nelson [Tues., Sept. 23, 1997, 9 a.m. PST]