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
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,
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
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
Your music will not die in vain……….you are with us, not only on the
outside but inside very strong!!
(Chancellor of Soul)
Material should not be used or altered without expressed
permission of the
author, Mike Boone, (Chancellor of Soul)