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Jimmy McCracklin, R&B Singer and Songwriter, Dead at 91

West Coast blues innovator was best known for 'The Walk'

December 23, 2012 6:20 PM ET
Jimmy McCracklin, portrait, dead, rip, 91, blues
Jimmy McCracklin poses for a portrait circa 1972.
Gilles Petard/Redferns

R&B singer and songwriter Jimmy McCracklin died on Thursday in San Pablo, California at the age of 91, the New York Times reports

McCracklin was best known for his 1958 dance hit, "The Walk," which he recorded for Checker Records with his band, the Blues Blasters. After McCracklin performed the song on Dick Clark's American Bandstand, it reached Number Seven on the Billboard pop charts and was later covered by the Beatles during their Let It Be sessions. 

2012 In Memoriam: Musicians We Lost

McCracklin was born on August 13th, 1921 in Helena, Arkansas, and he grew up in St. Louis, where he learned to play piano and sing from the blues musician Walter Davis. After three years in the Navy during World War II, McCracklin made his home in California, where he recorded his first single, "Miss Mattie Left Me," in Los Angeles in 1945. He soon made a move north to the Bay Area and came to be recognized as an innovator of the West Coast blues style, notable for its dominant piano work, guitar leads and horn arrangements. 

McCracklin went on to release more than 20 albums, scoring hits with songs including "Just Got to Know," "Think," and "Shame, Shame, Shame." The song "Tramp," which he co-wrote with Lowell Fulson, became a hit when Otis Redding and Carla Thomas recorded it in 1967, and was eventually adapted by Salt-n-Pepa. In the 1960s, he founded the record label Art-Tone and later ran San Francisco's Contintental Club. He released his last album, Hey Baby, in 2010.

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