By Bob ‘The Record Guy’ Paxon
We previously talked about Jimmie Raye and his 1966-67 releases – “Philly Dog Around The World” on KKC Records and “You Must Be Losing Your Mind” on JRE Records. If you want to know more about those releases or that period, search back on this site. Today we’ll talk about his earlier years and his 1963 release.
Jimmie grew up in Niagara Falls. By the time he returned to WNY after a stint in the Air Force, he had heard a lot of music and performed a bit. In 1962 Jimmie met Kim Kimbrough, owner of KKC Records, and the bunch of R&B performers in his circle- Babe Wayne, Arlester (Dyke) Christian, Carl LaRue & His Crew. They decided to join forces and worked the clubs following north of the border of the Niagara Frontier, developing a strong reputation in Ontario. Realizing that the only way to take the next step up in the music business was to go to its business centers on either the West or East coasts, the band was torn about which way to go. In the end most of them went West, where they eventually became Dyke & The Blazers, and Jimmie and Kim Kimbrough went East.
While Kim knocked on record company doors, Jimmie worked the Washington, D.C., area, meeting the D.C.-based performers Don Covay, “Sir” Mack Rice, Billy Stewart and Eddie Floyd, who led him to the local Satan Records and his obscure first 45, “Hey Let’s Dance.” Jimmie’s site mentions Sylvester Steward as the man behind this label and record. If that is indeed Sly, later Sly of The Family Stone, it’s unexpected (I would have expected him to be on the West Coast at that time) but maybe not… he was working all kinds of angles back then, trying to make a hit and break into the business.
When nothing came of this 45, Jimmie went back to WNY to record “You Don’t Want My Love” / “I Kept On Walking” on his own Niagara label. I don’t know much about this record except that it was recorded in Buffalo and is in that transitional style between R&B and Soul.
Soon he was in NYC, taking advantage of the connections they’d made there to record his classic Soul sides.
There was of course much more to come in his career- paths crossed many stars and superstars; records that almost hit; records that failed THEN and are considered classics by Soul mavens NOW. He continued recording, sporadically but somewhat consistently; every few years a new project would get him excited. In the 1970s he recorded everything from an obscure local-only 45 to albums for national release. His 1980s rediscovery by UK and European Soul fans led to live appearances and a whole new career. He released a CD of new material in 2004 (recorded 1987)
In 1980, the Mayor of Niagara Falls gave Jimmie the key to the city. It seems that wherever his career took him, the Niagara region stayed close to his heart.