Chancellor of Soul's Chronicles-Journals Dedicated To The
Historical Preservation Of R&B, Pop and It's Artists and Music


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Linda Jones     

'The Queen Of New Jersey Soul'   

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Piercing through the hearts of many soul fans worldwide with her breathtaking powerful gospel voice, Linda Jones is one of the most underrated female singers, in R&B history. What was so special about this great vocalist from Newark, NJ? Well ladies and gentlemen of the soul jury……….let her testimonies begin.

Linda Jones was born on January 14, 1944. Her upbringing comes from family gospel singers named, the Jones Singers. From a toddler to her early teens, Linda had a very unique powerful vocal range. Battling diabetes as a child, nothing would stop her from obtaining her lifetime dreams of becoming a famous singer. At the age of 19, Linda signed with Cub Records (a subsidiary of MGM) and record Jackie Wilson's 1959 hit, 'Lonely Teardrops' backed with 'Cancel the Celebration' in 1963 under the name, Linda Lane. The song would sink without a trace.

While signing with other independent labels such as Blue Cat and Atco, it was around this time that she would be discovered by legendary songwriter / producer, George Kerr, in local nightclub, around 1964. He and Jerry Harris (another songwriter) would be influential in guiding Linda's singing career.

Three years later in 1967, Linda signed with Loma Records (subsidiary of Warner Bros) and release her first masterpiece entitled, ' Hypnotized'.  The song became an instant smash hitting No 4 (Aug. 5) on the R&B Singles chart and No. 21 Pop on (Aug. 26). George Kerr told me that Linda recorded this song and many of her classic recordings in just one take!  A self-titled LP would submerge in late 1967.

The writers of ' Hypnotized' were Richard Poindexter and Gloria Spolding and arranged by Richard Tee, who was a trained session musician and later form his own group in 1975 called 'Stuff' on ABC Records. Singing background on 'Hypnotized' were George Kerr and the Poindexter Bros. The songwriting collaboration team of Kerr and Poindexter produce many soul classics for other artists such as, ' Look Over Your Shoulder' by the Implements in 1967, later recorded by the O'Jays on Bell Records released in the summer of 1968.

'Love Explosion' by Troy Keyes, Feb 1968 (ABC Records), 'Too Much Pride' the Persians (ABC Records) July 1968, 'Give It Up' by Top Shelf (Loma Records) 1970, a group from Baltimore, MD
called, The Whatnauts on All Platinum Records, and The Escorts from Rahway Prison whom George Kerr became involved with through Linda Jones' brother, an inmate at the time.  The Poindexter Bros. would have greater success by teaming up with songwriter, Jackie Members and produce an instant million seller for the group, The Persuaders in 1971 entitled, ' Thin Line Between Love And Hate', for the Win or Lose label. Linda continued to release other masterpiece hits on Loma such as, 'What Have I Done (To Make You Mad)' (No. 8 R&B, Nov 25, 1967) and 'Give My Love A Try' (No. 34 R&B, Jan. 27, 1968) and 'My Heart Needs A Break' (No. 50 R&B, April 20, 1968).

In 1969, the Loma label folded which switched Linda contract over to Warner Bros. The label released an excellent two-sider, ' It's Gonna Take A Lot To Bring Me Back' (later recorded by the Manhattans on
Deluxe) backed with 'I Who Have Nothing'. Around this time, George Kerr leased Linda's master recordings to other independent labels such as the late George Goldner's NY Latin soul label, 'Cotique' and  Philadelphia's 'Neptune' label, owned by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, and distributed by Chess Records. Neptune released a doubled sided hit on Linda in 1969 entitled, 'I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow' with 'That's When I'll Stop Loving You'.

During those years as record labels had come and gone, the Chess Bros (Leonard and Phil) sold their Chess label to GRT (General Recorded Tape corporation) in 1969. Through personnel changes, instability and misguidance of GRT, the label would fold a few years later. When this occurred, the Neptune label dissolved.

Linda would sign with Joe & Sylvia Robinson's 'Turbo' label (subsidiary of All Platinum) in 1971. As her battle with diabetes continued to worsen, Linda would put more of her efforts into recording and touring. Turbo released her first single on the label, ' Stay With Me Forever' (No. 47, R&B, June 1971). Then in late January of 1972, her last masterpiece entitled, ' Your Precious Love', (a remake of the Jerry Butler / Impressions 1958 doo-wop classic on the Abner label) was released in February of 1972, hitting No 15 R&B. Using the intro of singer Oscar Toney Jr., (who also had a hit with the song in the summer of 1967 on Bell Records), Linda captures the listeners with a powerful fast tongue preachy eargasm sermon that makes you want to sit up and take notice! Her last release on Turbo, the Moments' 68' classic, ' Not On The Outside' hit No. 32 on the R&B Singles in June 1972.

Linda's health continue to fail and take toil on one fateful evening that I would never forget. The story continues……

( Friday March 11, 1972 Linda Jones' Last Performance in Harlem At The World Famous Apollo Theater).

This story I continued to keep in the hallways of my mind for many years because it was too painful to talk about. Here's how it went……

My sister Corsalene was celebrating her birthday the weekend of March 12. Theater. She brought Linda Jones' LP, 'Not On The Outside'' and was absolutely crazy about it. WWRL (Super 16) a radio AM station here In NY, was burning up her release of, ' Your Precious Love' and announced that Linda Jones was appearing at Harlem's Apollo Theater. My sister asked me if I wanted to go to see her if she got the tickets. I exclaimed, 'Yeah!' We went on a Friday evening (March 11). Linda appeared on stage and began to sing her classics like, ' Hypnotized', 'What Have I Done', ' Give My Love A Try' 'I'll Be Sweeter Tomorrow' and others. She didn't look very well but as a master show woman, she continued. As the bandleader George Kerr began to strike up the house band to play her current hit, ' Your Precious Love'. Linda started to sing with her back towards the audience. As George proceeded to turn her around, there was a murmur among the crowd saying, 'what's wrong with her'? I began to ask the same question to my sister and she commented by saying, ' I don't know, Mike'.

Linda began helplessly sing her hit and yes she did triumphed. As I watched her struggled through her next set of songs, my eyes began to water. I didn't want my sister to see me cry, so I acted like I was rubbing my face because of an itch. After she finished her set, Linda had to be escorted by George Kerr off the stage.


At the time, people didn't know of Linda's diabetic condition, began to spread cruel rumors about her being a junkie and how she became high on substance before the show. Linda would later collapse backstage and be rushed to Harlem Hospital. 7 days passed and the buzz continued about Linda's performance at the Apollo. My sister came over to my house a week later on a Friday (March 17) and asked my mother and myself had we heard the shocking news that Linda Jones had died on Tuesday. We said, 'No'! She then showed us the article in the Harlem newspaper, the 'Amsterdam News', that said that Linda Jones had died of diabetic complications. She died on March 14, 1972. I remembered looking at that black and white photo in the newspaper taken from her LP, 'Not On The Outside', with her half pretty smile. I just couldn't believe she was dead! Folks believe me; I've seen many wonderful performances at the Apollo Theater but the greatest and saddest performance I've ever witness was that of Ms. Linda Jones. God, I miss her………..

If ever you had the chance to listen or purchase any of Linda Jones' recordings she pours out every emotion of her musical soul to satisfy any music lover. Once in an interview with Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight, they were asked who their favorite singer was. Each both quoted, 'Linda Jones'.

If any of her recordings don't bring tears to your eyes, might I suggest you take a course in Soulsville USA 101! Thank you Linda for leaving us fans with your God given talent on vinyl or CD to enjoy and listen to.

Your music will not die in vain……….you are with us, not only on the outside but inside very strong!!


                                                      Enjoy!!!
                                                  Mike Boone
                                             (Chancellor of Soul)

                                                 August 2004



                    Material should not be used or altered without expressed permission of the
                                       author, Mike Boone,  (Chancellor of Soul)

 

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