Jamie brushed fame with his version of "Little Bit o" Soul" he recorded as lead singer of The Music Explosion in 1967. The song was a hit that rose to number 2 in the charts. It has since then remained forever enshrined in the traditional repertoire of countless "garage bands" that still include the tune as a favorite, even today.
Ro-z Mendelson, who was then a roadie for Hard Sauce, remembers -as quoted in an article in today's Columbus Dispatch- that: "He was one of the greatest singers. He could just belt out a song like nobody else," and ""Onstage, he was powerful and he’d win everybody over".
As large and dounting as his stage persona was, off-stage he was a warm, gentle, down-to-earth, likeable guy who, like most of us, liked to hang out with friends.
Although he never achieved the fame that was surely due to him, he kept on singing occasionally. For the past two years, he was a featured guest star appearing with the Mendelsonics at Comfest 06 and 05. An enthusiastic large crowd of old friends and new fans cheerd him on at the outdoor art festival last June, as he was performing with the band on the Gazebo stage. At one point he was overcome with a sudden episode that left him confused and dazed. Most folks didn't notice anything as they danced and swayed to the music, and he did recover and finish his set, but the event left him shaken. He had had a history of heart trouble and may have suffered an attack that evening. He returned to his home in South Carolina and seemed to be doing well for a few months but he suddenly collapsed last week, working in his garden where his daughter found him.
He was 57 years old. He was a friend and I will miss him.
For more info, read today's article in the Columbus Dispatch that relates his life and quotes friends and contemporaries.
I have not yet heard of any memorial event (party?) scheduled for Jamie, but promise to inform you in this blog as soon as I find out what's planned.