Tuesday, February 20, 2024

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Mr. Big Stuff singer Jean Knight dies aged 80

R’n’B star Jean Knight has passed away aged 80.

The Grammy-nominated star – behind 70s funk hits ‘Mr. Big Stuff’ and ‘Think It Over’ – died of natural causes last Wednesday (22.11.23), her friend Bernie Cyrus confirmed.

The former Louisiana Music Commission director told Rolling Stone “She was the first person we appointed on the board when we took it over and we had a long relationship with her and she was just fabulous.

“She was always willing to get involved with good causes and help out.”

Bernie continued: “’Mr. Big Stuff’ — it was just so universal. People remember it. And look, so many people covered it. But nobody did it like Jean.”

The timeless classic was used across films and covered many times, including in the 2005 movie ‘Kinky Boots’ performed by soul singer Lyn Collins, and the 1994 Disney sports comedy-drama ‘D2: The Mighty Ducks’ sung by Martha Wash.

It spent five weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Soul Singles chart and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, behind ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’ by The Bee Gees.

The New Orleans native’s career kick-started with her debut demo of Jackie Wilson’s ‘Stop Doggin’ Me Around’.

She was instantly signed to Jet Star and Tribe.

Jean continued working as a baker to fund her music career and was still making dough when she and producer Wardell Quezergue recorded her first big hit, ‘Mr. Big Stuff’, in Jackson, Mississippi.

The guaranteed hit would go on to be released on the famous Stax Records, went double-platinum, and received a Grammy nomination for Best Female R’n’B Vocal Performance.

Jean left Stax and wouldn’t have another hit until the next decade with ‘You Got the Papers (But I Got the Man)’, which was released on Atlantic Records.

In 2007, the ‘Do Me’ singer was inducted into the Louisiana Music Commission Hall of Fame.

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