Jimmy Castor Passes Away

January 19, 2012 by Amy Gold

Jimmy Castor ca. 1979
Jimmy Castor ca. 1979

Funk and soul saxophonist, songwriter and singer Jimmy Castor passed away on January 17, 2012 in a Las Vegas hospital at the age of 71. The native New Yorker, whose famous 1972 song, "It's Just Begun," is an anthem for hip-hoppers of all ages, died of heart failure. He is survived by his wife, Sandi, and his son, Jimmy Castor Jr.

Castor's music has lived on over the years through the songs of other performers. His well-known 1972 hit "Troglodyte" was used in samples and riffs by other musicians such as 2 Live Crew, Spice Girls, Kanye West and Madonna. Castor continued working until August 2011, including a performance at California's Long Beach Funk Festival. He also had tour dates scheduled for this year in Europe.

Castor was born June 23, 1940 and began his career as a doo-wop singer in New York. He switched from singing to playing the saxophone in 1960 and began to gain more recognition in the industry by playing sax solos on such hits as "Rinky Dink" by Dave "Baby" Cortez. In 1972, he founded The Jimmy Castor Bunch, a funky novelty group. Among the several successful singles and albums he released with The Jimmy Castor Bunch, "Troglodyte" received the most acclaim, peaking at #6 on Billboard's Top 100. The Jimmy Castor Bunch is also well remembered by oldies music fans for the hilarious 1975 Top 40 hit, "The Bertha Butt Boogie-Part 1." Through the late 1980s, Castor continued his long string of hits on the R&B charts that included "Love Makes A Woman" (1988), a duet he performed with Joyce Sims.

Castor lived in Henderson, Nevada with his wife Sandi. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery last November after suffering a heart attack. Son Jimmy Castor Jr. states that the opening chords of "It's Just Begun" are recognized time and again before the lyrics even start.