Jimmy Jones, a club musician known for his 1993 hit “Watch Out for the Big Girl,” died of kidney failure Tuesday at Good Samaritan Hospital at age 50. He lived in Northeast Baltimore.
Mr. Jones was an in-demand nightclub master of ceremonies who called out members of his audience by their names and neighborhoods during a long career as a popular Baltimore entertainment figure.
One of Baltimore’s best-known best known Black musician-entertainers, Mr. Jones was a fixture at local clubs Odell’s, Fantasy, Paradox and Indigo.
“At the time, he was one of the main masters of ceremonies — the guy on the mic, doing shout-outs and hyping the crowd,” said Grant Burley III, who is known as DJ BooMan. “He had a really good voice. He was the guy who got the crowd excited.”
“Mr. Jones released much of his material on Unruly Records, a Baltimore label.
He often sold his music on vinyl records retailed at neighborhood record stores and at Music Liberated in downtown Baltimore. He and friends made their own records, had them pressed in Florida, and had to pay the costs of the vinyl pressings in advance.
“We had to do everything on our own. Even carry the boxes of records to the stores,” Mr. Burley said. “We grew up with hip hop and dance music. When Odell’s was in its heyday, we were younger and we got in any way we could.”
Mr. Burley said he and Mr. Jones were regulars at the Club Fantasy on Howard Street at Centre.
“It was our early home for learning the music,” he said.
He also said, “Everybody in the clubs loved him. There were only a handful of people who what he did so effectively. He had a good, strong voice and he connected with people,” Mr. Burley said.
A 2014 Baltimore City Paper article said of Mr. Jones: “In the pantheon of club vocalists, Jimmy Jones is one of the few with a long, significant career of coming up with chants and refrains for club hits.”
The article said of Mr. Jones: “Baltimore club is one of the few music genres where the producer is the star, and vocalists by and large take a backseat. ... Usually that’s either because the vocals on the track are sampled, or either performed by the producer himself or some anonymous kid who records one party-starting hook and then is never heard from again.”
“I’ve been in love with club music since the early ’90s. I’ve been in love with house music since ’86, and that’s what I grew up in, house music, Club Fantasy,” Mr. Jones said in the City Paper article. “So all my elements of all my creativity grew within that club, at the age of 15, when I wasn’t supposed to be in there.”
With his friends DJ Booman and K.W. Griff, he formed the group Doo Dew Kidz, who produced records.
“And part of that foundation was the Jimmy Jones hooks on songs like “Watch Out for the Big Girl” and “Set It Up Shorty,” rough-voiced chants from someone who didn’t rap, and wasn’t a trained singer, but knew how to put together a catchy hook and structure a song,” said the article.
Mr. Jones said he preferred to “keep his focus on vocals.”
He said, “I did some things, as far as the tracks, just add snare here, a beat there.”
He liked to make specific neighborhood references.
“I would get on the mic and shout streets out, like I’m one of the originals that started the ‘east side, west side, south side,’ I even put [Baltimore County] in it, started sayin’ ‘county.’ So I really take pride in startin’ namin’ the streets,” he said in 2014.
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Born in Baltimore, Mr. Jones was the son of James Earl Jones and Carolyn Fulton and was raised by Alvin Polk Sr.
He grew up in the Park Heights neighborhood and later lived in the Chinquapin Parkway area of Northeast Baltimore. He attended Hilton Elementary School and Hamilton Middle School and was a Northern High School graduate. He attended Morgan State University.
He later said that used many references to the Harford Road area where he lived.
In addition to his parents, survivors include his wife, Laceyia Pryor; two sons, DeShawn Givens and Jawan Jones; two daughters, Chastity Pryor and Deanna Jones; a brother, Darent Polk; four sisters, Shontelle Jones, Camille Polk, Alvana Williams and Antree Edwards, all of Baltimore; and a grandson, Zaire Pryor.
Family members said he was a “lovable personality” and helped raise his seven nephews, Shon Wright, Brian Williams, Cameron Burden, Jaxon Polk, Kyron Wright, Jaren Polk and Corsley Edwards III, and a niece, Keira Holmes.