Jimmy McCracklin, a popular blues singer and pianist whose career spanned more than six decades and whose songs were recorded by such performers as Otis Redding, Joe Tex, Elvin Bishop and Jerry Garcia, died Dec. 20 at a nursing facility in San Pablo, Calif. He was 91. He had diabetes and hypertension.
An entry in Encyclopedia of the Blues, published by the University of Arkansas Press, calls McCracklin “one of the great composers in blues history, with his depth of feeling, his sense of phrasing and his conciseness."
McCracklin had a rare ability among blues singers to adapt to changing musical tastes. While his earliest records from 1945 were sung to a lone piano accompaniment, his later records encompassed jump blues, rock ’n’ roll and soul music.
His most popular record, “The Walk" (1958), a jaunty dance record propelled by guitarist Lafayette Thomas’ syncopated guitar hook, reached No. 7 on the Billboard pop charts.
The song garnered McCracklin an appearance on American Bandstand and charted again in 1980 in an almost note-for-note remake by the Inmates, a British band.
Through the 1960s, McCracklin had a string of hits. The songs included “Just Got To Know" (1962), “Every Night, Every Day" (1965), “My Answer" (1966) and “Think" (1965), which was later recorded by Garcia, of Grateful Dead fame.