|Birth name||James Louis McCleese|
August 24, 1942|
Weldon, North Carolina, United States
|Died||June 15, 1988
Spring Valley, New York, United States
Born James Louis McCleese in Weldon, North Carolina, he became a preacher at the age of seven and performed gospel music as a teenager. He acquired his performing name, "Soul," from his congregation.
Soul took to the road and toured the southern United States as a member of various gospel groups. During this time he became popular around the Norfolk, Virginia area. It was here that Soul was scouted by Frank Guida and recruited to sing songs handpicked for one of Guida's other hit artists, Gary U.S. Bonds.
Soul only had two chart hit singles, both of which were Bonds's cast-offs. They were on the SPQR label, distributed by London Records. The first was "Twistin' Matilda" in 1962. The other was the Billboard Hot 100 number one hit "If You Wanna Be Happy" in 1963. The latter was based on the calypso "Ugly Woman," by Roaring Lion.
After unsuccessfully trying to follow up the success of those songs with one more album, Soul gave up his career as a musician and joined the United States Army.
Later in life, Soul fell into a drug habit, and on January 9, 1986 was sentenced to 4 and a half to 9 years in prison as a second felony offender, convicted of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree. The sentence was affirmed upon appeals on October 26, 1987 and March 22, 1988.
Soul died of a presumably drug-related heart attack on June 15, 1988, aged 45.
- Thedeadrockstarsclub.com Accessed March 2010
- "ArtistDirect.com: Jimmy Soul Biography" Accessed November 2012
- "Oldies.com: Jimmy Soul Biography" Accessed November 2012
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 166. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 515. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
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