Throwback Thursday: Jimmy Castor @ SOBs – March 13, 1991

 

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For this week’s Throwback Thursday, Giant Step President/CEO Maurice Bernstein shares with us about our March 1991 show with Jimmy Castor. What do you remember about this monumental show? Your favorite Jimmy Castor sample?

Jimmy Castor was on our list of artists to track down for our Groove Academy concerts. He was an artist who wasn’t really playing in New York anymore. In fact, this show was his first New York appearance in 10 years.

I don’t exactly remember how I managed to get his phone number. But once I got his number, I called him up and the first thing he said was, “I’d like to meet you.” I remember he drove into New York from New Jersey and we met him at one of those traditional Spanish restaurants next door to the Chelsea Hotel for dinner. He was interested to hear our proposal about a show, but also wanted us to understand where he was in his music career and why he was pretty much retired from the industry and very disillusioned with the business.

After a lot of talking and hearing him do his “Bertha Butt,” “King Kong” and “Troglodyte” voices, and a lot of persuasion, we were able to get him on board along with the “original” Bunch, which was his band. We wanted to hear the whole band do their parts when they performed the song “Potential” at the show.

Although Jimmy hadn’t put out any new music in years, he was, however, heavily sampled. Back then, a few of the many were “Gangsta Gangsta” by N.W.A. sampling “Troglodyte,” “Pump Up The Volume” by M|A|R|R|S, and “Watch Me Now” by Ultramagnetic MCs sampling “It’s Just Begun.” He’d also been working on new music, which he had us hear, including a track called “Firecracker” and one where he rapped about the fact he was heavily sampled.

Read the rest after the jump

Rest In Peace, Jimmy Castor

 

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Giant Step President & CEO Maurice Bernstein shares some words. After the jump, you can find an autographed poster thats hangs in our office from the show we did with Jimmy in 1991, including signatures from Jimmy and the original “Bunch”. Also after the jump, you can see some YouTube clips of popular songs. Above, is a live performance of a Giant Step favorite, “It’s Just Begun.”

Maurice Bernstein Reflects on the Legacy of Jimmy Castor

As I was enjoying my favorite holiday, Martin Luther King Day, I noticed a lot of my Facebook friends were posting Jimmy Castor tracks. “That’s nice,” I thought, “maybe it’s his birthday.” When one of the posts said RIP, I realized his passing.

Jimmy Castor is a very important, underrated and truly interesting artist in our music history. I’m also proud to say that he’s someone who I actually got a chance to work with (but that will come a little later). A musical child prodigy, Castor was brought up in Harlem NY and even has his photograph on the wall at Apollo Theater. At a young age, he joined Frankie Lymon and The Teenagers and took over for Lymon, who was too strung out. After leaving the group, Castor had his first major hit, “Hey Leroy” in 1966, which was the perfect Latin soul jam. The song showed his authenticity as someone who grew up in the hood, but also was full of the wit, characters and voices that found their way into his best known works from the 1970s.

Castor was not only a song writer, vocalist but also an excellent percussionist and saxophone player. As the 1960s rolled on into 1970s, Castor moved to RCA and released his best work. 1972′s “It’s Just Begun” is, for me, one of the greatest dance tracks ever made. The characters continued with “Bertha Butt,” “Troglodyte,” and “King Kong,” alongside other great tracks he continued to release, such as “Potential,” “Space Age,” “E-Man Boogie,” “A Groove Will Make You Move,” “Maximum Stimulation,” and “E-Man Groovin’.” Despite his success and playing huge venues, Castor became dislllusioned with the music industry. He hated having accountants in the role of record label heads making creative decisions about his music. In the 1980s, Castor stopped recording to spend time with his family in New Jersey where he also enjoyed riding his beloved motor bikes.

When we started Groove Academy in 1990 (a precursor to Giant Step), the idea was to find great funk and soul artists that were sampled and forgotten. Jimmy Castor was on the top of my list! I can’t remember how I actually got his number (this was before Google), but once I did, I immediately called him. Jimmy was reluctant to come out of retirement but was flattered by our interest and then became impressed by the persistence. He finally agreed to a meeting with my partner Jonathan and I over dinner in NYC. After his stories, voices and more stories, he agreed to do a show for us at SOBs with the full and original “Jimmy Castor Bunch.”

The show was amazing and the band sounded incredible, Rock Steady Crew were in the house and of course “busted some serious moves” during the performance for “It’s Just Begun”.

Now having has sadly passed, I sincerely hope Jimmy gets his true credit for his contribution to the music we love.

Official Site

Giant Step show flyer and some tracks after the jump