Who was/is Linda Jones ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
"Linda Jones is still the greatest singer I ever heard," marvels Robert Poindexter, whose brother Richard co-wrote her first hit, Hypnotized. The Poindexters were in a position to know. "We're the ones singing background on 'Hypnotized,'" says Robert.
Born January 14, 1944 in Newark, New Jersey, Linda's stunning pipes were the result of a staunch gospel background. George Kerr, whose vocal group, The Serenaders, had been briefly signed to Motown, discovered Linda and produced her for Atco (Take The Boy Out Of The Country) in 1965 and Blue Cat (You Hit Me Like TNT) the next year. But it was the shattering Hypnotized that propelled her onto the national stage.
The Poindexters, who had their own mid-'60s 45s on Tuff and Verve, were grooming a new singer, Jackie Members, when Richard teamed with another New York newcomer, Gloria Spolin, to create the ballad. "(Gloria) had a poem called 'Hypnotized,' about 30 verses," says Robert. "We took a few words from what she did, her idea on it, and we wrote a song called 'Hypnotized.'" The 16-year-old Members would have first crack at Hypnotized under Kerr's direction. "He came down to rehearsal. We had open rehearsal. Anybody could walk in our rehearsal," says Robert. "George came in there and heard 'Hypnotized.' He broke down in tears and cried." Kerr took Jackie into the studio, but nothing happened with the master.
"George Kerr called me one day, man, and said, 'I want you to hear something.' And when he played 'Hypnotized,' he still had us singing background, but it had this girl called Linda Jones on it," continues Poindexter, who would eventually marry Jackie. "I argued. I put up a fight: 'How can you do this to us, man?' But we had never heard nobody sing like that, ever. Aretha Franklin, nobody, sang like Linda."
Nonetheless, Kerr found it difficult to interest a label in Jones' gem (keyboardist Richard Tee did the lush arrangement) until Jerry Ragovoy picked it up for Warner Bros.' Loma imprint. Hypnotized was a #4 R&B/#21 pop smash. Kerr stayed at the helm for Linda's Loma hits What've I Done (To Make You Mad) later that year and 1968's Give My Love A Try and My Heart Needs A Break as well as her '72 revival of The Impressions' For Your Precious Love for Joe and Sylvia Robinson's Turbo logo.
Tragically, complications from diabetes killed Linda on March 14, 1972 at 28. "She was a little street girl from the projects over in Jersey," says Robert. "Linda Jones was the baddest."
- Bill Dahl -
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