Jimmy Soul

born on 24/8/1942 in Weldon, NC, United States

died on 25/6/1988

Jimmy Soul

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Jimmy Soul

Jimmy Soul (August 24, 1942 – June 25, 1988)[1] was an American vocalist. He is best remembered for his 1963 number one hit, "If You Wanna Be Happy."


Born James McCleese in Weldon, North Carolina,[1] he became a preacher at the age of seven[2] and performed gospel music as a teenager. He acquired his performing name, "Soul," from his congregation.[3]

Soul took to the road and toured the southern United States as a member of various gospel groups. During this time he became popular around the Norfolk, Virginia area.[3] It was here that Soul was scouted by Frank Guida and recruited to sing songs handpicked for one of Guida's other hit artists, Gary U.S. Bonds.


Soul only had two chart hit singles, both which were Bonds's cast-offs. The first was "Twistin' Matilda" in 1962. The other was the Billboard Hot 100 number one hit "If You Wanna Be Happy" in 1963. The latter was based on the calypso, "Ugly Woman," by Roaring Lion.

"If You Wanna Be Happy" sold over one million gramophone records, earning gold disc status.[4] It had two spells in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #39 (1963) and #68 (1991) respectively.[5]

Later years

After unsuccessfully trying to follow up the success of those songs with one more album, Soul gave up his career as a musician and joined the United States Army.

Soul died of a heart attack in 1988, aged 45.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Thedeadrockstarsclub.com Accessed March 2010
  2. "ArtistDirect.com: Jimmy Soul Biography" Accessed November 2012
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Oldies.com: Jimmy Soul Biography" Accessed November 2012
  4. Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs, 2nd, London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd.
  5. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums, 19th, London: Guinness World Records Limited.
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