The Associated Press Announcement
Blues Singer Witherspoon Dies at 74
Date: 97-09-20 17:42:06 EDT

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon, a Grammy nominee whose trademark was his deep, smoky voice, has died at the age of 74.
Witherspoon died Thursday of natural causes, Claudine Ratcliffe, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County coroner's office, said Saturday. No other details were available, she said.

``Spoon,'' as he was known, recorded dozens of albums and fronted both small bands and large orchestras. His career included tours in Europe, performances for prison inmates and appearances at such influential venues as the Monterey Jazz Festival. His hits included ``Blues Around the Clock,'' ``Some of My Best Friends are the Blues,'' and ``Blue Spoon.''

While traveling the world as a merchant seaman during World War II, he had an opportunity to sing with the big band of Teddy Weatherford, who encouraged him to pursue a music career. Beginning in 1944, he appeared in the music clubs of Los Angeles, and got a big break when he was invited to join Jay McShann's band in Vallejo. In 1949, Witherspoon's first single, ``Ain't Nobody's Business,'' reached No. 1 on rhythm and blues record charts. His career slowed with the advent of rock 'n' roll but he made a comeback performance at the 1959 Monterey Jazz Festival and over the next decade recorded with Earl Hines and other jazz greats, made European tours and regularly visited prisons to perform for inmates. He toured with guitarist Robben Ford and appeared at blues and jazz festivals until he had to undergo surgery for throat cancer in the mid 1980s. He rejoined Ford in the early 1990s. Their ``Live at the Mint'' album was nominated for the 1995 Grammy Award for best traditional blues album.

AP-NY-09-20-97 1729EDT Copyright 1997 The Associated Press.

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