born in 1948 in Pittsburgh, TX, United States
James Earl "Jim" Gilstrap (born November 10, 1946) is an American singer best known for his work as a session musician and his 1975 solo hit single "Swing Your Daddy", as well as singing co-lead to the theme from the TV series Good Times.
Gilstrap was born November 10, 1946 in Pittsburg, Texas to Jodie and Pearlie Mae (Tolbert) Gilstrap. He grew up listening to blues and rhythm and blues, idolizing Bobby Bland when he was younger. His family moved to California, and after serving in the Vietnam War, Gilstrap set about pursuing a music career. He successfully auditioned to join the Doodletown Pipers as a vocalist in the late 1960s, and soon moved on to The Cultures, who offered backing support to established pop and soul musicians.
In the early 1970s, Gilstrap was one of the backing vocalists in Stevie Wonder's backing outfit, 'Wonderlove', appearing on Wonder's albums, Talking Book and Innervisions. Gilstrap sang the opening two lines of the Wonder song, "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" (with Lani Groves singing the next two lines). He subsequently signed a recording contract with Chelsea Records in 1975. His recording of the Kenny Nolan penned "Swing Your Daddy" was a #4 hit in the UK Singles Chart in April 1975, and reached #10 in the U.S. Billboard Black Singles chart.
Gilstrap also recorded two albums of his own during the 1970s. His debut, also titled Swing Your Daddy, contained three more singles in "I'm on fire" (covering 5000 Volts; it made #78 in the USA), "House of Strangers" and "Put Out the Fire." The follow-up Love Talk (1977), despite some minor success with the title track and "Move Me," failed to produce another big hit.
He recorded backing vocals for the UK singer Elkie Brooks (Live and Learn (1979)), and resumed his primary career as a session vocalist, performing with numerous pop and R&B stars over the next decades.
He can be heard in a vocal performance on Quincy Jones' 1974 jazz-funk composition "Soul Saga (Song Of The Buffalo Soldier)", from Jones' Body Heat album. Gilstrap has also provided the male lead vocals for the theme music to the 1970s television program Good Times. He was one of the background vocalists on the soundtrack to the movie Grease (1978).
Throughout the 1990s Gilstrap worked alongside many smooth jazz artists including Ramsey Lewis and Dave Koz. In 1975, he sang "I've Got You Where I Want You" for the soundtrack to the Robert Redford movie Three Days of the Condor. In addition, he sang the theme song for the 1990s cartoon series TaleSpin. More recently he did an original song for the Japanese film Survive Style 5+ entitled "A Lament".
Northern soul fans hold Gilstrap in high regard for his song, "Run, Run, Run" on Bell Records with the group Side Effect.
Gilstrap's recording credits include:
- "Lowdown" and Down Two Then Left - Boz Scaggs
- Hymn for My Soul - Joe Cocker
- Innervisions - Stevie Wonder
- Big Easy Fantasy, Loup Garou and Backstreets of Desire - Willy DeVille
- Chemistry and Perfect Combination - Johnny Gill
- Songs of the Beatles - Sarah Vaughan
- Partners - Scherrie and Susaye
- Two Sides of the Moon - Keith Moon
- Leo Sayer - Leo Sayer
- No Protection - Starship
- Kelis Was Here - Kelis
- "Easy Baby" (from the film 99 and 44/100% Dead) - Henry Mancini
- List of performers on Top of the Pops
- Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2005.
- U.S. Public Records Index Vol 1 (Provo, UT: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc.), 2010.
- 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Soulwalking.co.uk - accessed April 2009
- 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 [Jim Gilstrap at All Music Guide Biography by Steve Huey]. Allmusic.com. Retrieved on April 30, 2009.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums, 19th, London: Guinness World Records Limited.
- [Jim Gilstrap at All Music Guide Allmusic ((( Jim Gilstrap > Charts & Awards > Billboard Singles )))].
- Biography at Soulwalking.co.uk