One of the last great voices of the original 1950s Doo Wop-era -- Jimmy Beaumont of The Skyliners -- died at the age of 76 this past Saturday at his home.
The news came as a shock to many, as he was still performing regularly with his group and was to have performed with The Skyliners during the Ultimate Doo Wop Show at Star Plaza Theater on Oct. 20.
Beaumont hailed from Pittsburgh's Knoxville neighborhood and with The Skyliners, hit it big with the 1958 hit "Since I Don't Have You." Other hits followed for the doo-wop group --"It Happened Today" (1959), "This I Swear" (1960), "Pennies from Heaven" (1960), and "The Loser" (1965), among them.
Jimmy also had a solo recording career apart from the group in the mid- to late 1960s, but it was that first song he wrote at the age of 18 -- "Since I Don't Have You" -- that made Beaumont truly timeless.
"He was one of the greatest voices of the era," said Stormy Weather lead vocalist Henry Farag, whose Canterbury Productions is presenting The Ultimate Doo Wop Show. "For me as a fan, it was always The Spaniels and The Skyliners, those were my groups. The Skyliners had the most unusual, and to my ears, distinct sound of any group who recorded in the 1950s. As a teenager, I wore their 45s out."
Farag told how he and Beaumont forged a strong business and personal relationship. "I started booking Jimmy 43 years ago, when I booked the group way back in 1974 for a show for me at The Greek Hall in Merrillville. That was way before the many shows we did at The Bridge-Vu Theatre and the Star Plaza. Jimmy was such a humble guy. He loved performing and loved the audiences. It was always great to work with him."
"We worked the same circuits together," said Billy Shelton of The Spaniels Forever, famous for such hits as "Goodnight Sweetheart" and "Baby It's You."
"I am so, so sad to hear this news," Shelton added. "I have been very much looking forward to seeing and performing with Jimmy and the group again at this big Star Theatre show.
Although there will be a sadness looming and Beaumont's absence will be felt by all at the Star Plaza concert next week, Henry Farag stressed it will also serve as a celebration of the singer/songwriter's music and his many contributions to music.
Along with The Spaniels Forever, The Ultimate Doo Wop Show will feature performances by Charlie Thomas & The Drifters ("On Broadway," "There Goes My Baby," "Under the Boardwalk"), The Vogues ("Five O'Clock World," "You're the One"), The Marcels ("Blue Moon," "Heartaches"), The Cookies ("Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby"), The Shades of Blue ("Oh How Happy"), Willie Rogers & The Soul Stirrers ("If I Had a Hammer," "A Change Gonna Come"), Stormy Weather ("Street Corner Serenade"), all performing with The Blue Suede Orchestra.
Although Tom Doody, lead singer of the iconic Chicago pop group The Cryan' Shames, said that while he never personally met Jimmy Beaumont, his music greatly impacted him as a young singer. "What a voice Jimmy had; it was as smooth as warm maple syrup," said Doody. "I love doo wop and Jimmy was right at the top of my list of favorites. He and Johnny Maestro affected me deeply."