Jimmy Soul (August 24, 1942 - June 25, 1988) was an R&B/pop singer who became famous during the early 1960s. He is best remembered for his 1963 smash hit, the upbeat and boisterous "If You Wanna Be Happy." Born James Louis McCleese in Weldon, North Carolina, he became a preacher as a boy and was nicknamed "Soul" by his congregation. As a teenager, he toured the Southern U.S. as a member of the Nightingales and other gospel groups and was billed as "The Wonder Boy." While performing in the Norfolk, Virginia area, Soul was discovered by songwriter and producer, Frank Guida, and was signed to one of his record labels, S.P.Q.R.
Jimmy Soul made his debut in 1962 on both the R&B and Pop/Rock charts with "Twistin' Matilda (And The Channel)," a twist version of the similarly-named calypso song which made the R&B Top 20. He had a minor hit later that year with "When Matilda Comes Back" before hitting it big in the spring of 1963 with his signature song, "If You Wanna Be Happy," which topped both charts and became gold-certified. Based on the calypso song, "Ugly Woman," by Roaring Lion, this smash was followed by several minor hits through the remainder of 1963, many with a similar calypso sound: "Treat 'Em Tough," "Go 'Way Christina," "Everybody's Gone Ape," and "I Hate You Baby."
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- If You Wanna Be Happy 1963
(This song topped both the R&B and Pop/Rock charts.)
- Twistin' Matilda (and the channel) 1962
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