Joe Jones

Joe Jones is remembered by many as a one-shot artist for his sole entry into the top forty which was highly successful. In reality he spent many years around the music scene in his native New Orleans in various capacities.

Joe was born in New Orleans in 1926 and grew up there. In 1942 shortly after he rurned 16 he joined the U.S. Navy and became one of its first black petty officers. He also played piano in a navy band. Returning to New Orleans after World War II, he formed a jazz band called Joe Jones and His Atomic Rebops, which played behind Roy Brown when he recorded Good Rockin' Tonight in 1947. There was a poorly-organized musicians union in New Orleans at the time, and Joe decided to organize a rival group of his own. This resulted in his expulsion for life from the original union, but that was later undone as some friends patched things up for him.

Joe Jones recorded his first single Adam Bit the Apple in 1954. He discovered New Orleans locals Shirley and Lee and encouraged them to record, which resulted in their 1956 hit Let The Good Times Roll. The big talent nationally from New Orleans in the 1950's was Fats Domino. Domino was having success selling hit after hit by the middle of the decade, and Jones sought to emulate him. By this time Joe was working as a valet and pianist for B.B. King.

Domino's brother-in-law, Reginald Hall, had written a song titled You Talk Too Much, one that Fats had turned down. Joe Jones recorded it on the RIC label, in 1960. It was a nationwide hit, beating out a competing version of the same song from New Orleans native Frankie Ford, and would prove to be the only top forty record ever for Joe Jones as an artist. And what a hit it was, rising to number 3 in the fall of that year. You talk too much, You worry me to death. You talk too much, You even worry my pet... Roulette Records, for whom Jones had recorded You Talk Too Much as well as Every Night About Eight two years earlier, made a leasing agreement with RIC and assumed Jones' contract; the Roulette issue of You Talk Yoo Much sold over a million records. Like many artists, he made little money on it, and was not able to come up with a successful follow-up.

In 1961 Joe Jones recorded the original version of California Sun, later a hit in a cover version by the Rivieras in 1964. Joe also made an appearance with his group, the Joe Jones Orchestra, in the 1961 horror picture The Dead One, filmed on a plantation outside of New Orleans.

He continued in the music business and got into pulbishing, all the while looking for new talent. He found it in Alvin Robinson, who recorded Something You Got, and did even better with another artist he managed, a group of three young women that he found at a local talent show calling themselves the Meltones, and later, Little Miss and the Muffets. Jones brought this group to the Brill Building in New York City and secured a recording contract for them with Red Bird Records, the newcomer record company established by songwriters extraordinaire Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller. Assuming a new name, the Dixie Cups, the girls recorded a song written by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich and Phil Spector titled Chapel Of Love. The record was a million-seller, a world-wide hit, and went to number one in the spring of 1964. It served to establish Red Bird, where the Shangri-Las would record a short time later. The Dixie Cups followed up with more hits, including People Say, You Should Have Seen The Way He Looked At Me, and Iko Iko. They are one of the iconic 60's girl groups.

Married with four sons and four daughters, Jones moved to the West Coast and in 1973 started a company that wrote advertising jingles. In the mid-70's he wrote a campaign song for Presidential aspirant Jimmy Carter. Jones worked to encourage black artists to press hard for royalties that were due them. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery and died a short itme later in Los Angeles on November 27, 2005, at age 79.

Joe Jones' life and career extended into many areas of the music business. He is best remembered as a performer for his giant 1960 hit, You Talk Too Much.

Most Recent Update: December 1, 2015

Return to Rock-and-Roll Page.

Return to Home Page.

Send email to the author, Tom Simon