Jimmy Soul

Jimmy Soul bigraphy, stories - American male singer

Jimmy Soul : biography

August 24, 1942 – June 25, 1988

Jimmy Soul (August 24, 1942 – June 25, 1988) Accessed March 2010 was an American vocalist. He is best remembered for his 1963 number one hit, "If You Wanna Be Happy."

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.


Born James McCleese in Weldon, North Carolina, he became a preacher at the age of seven Accessed November 2012 and performed gospel music as a teenager. He acquired his performing name, "Soul," from his congregation. Accessed November 2012

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. 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.

It had two spells in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #39 (1963) and #68 (1991) respectively.