Welcome to the Songs of James Carr
A page dedicated to the songs of James Carr recorded. His legacy is limited, for during his prime in the latter part of the 1960’s he only released little over 13 singles and two albums. He returned in the 1990’s with a couple of mediocre and mostly overlooked CD’s, but his name will forever be linked to the classic ‘Dark End Of The Street’; his greatest song and one of (soul) music greatest achievements.
The James Carr Biography.
James Carr was born on June 13th, 1942 in Coahoma, Mississippi. This town is located a few miles outside of Clarksdale. The same Clarksdale where Sam Cooke and John Lee Hooker were born, where Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil and where blues singer Bessie Smith lost her life in a car crash on Highway 61, the road immortalized by Bob Dylan.
His father was a Baptist preacher and early in James’ life they moved to Memphis where he soon started singing in gospel groups, while working small jobs. He never really learned to read and write and when he got married and became a father he was still a teenager. During rehearsal with his gospel group the Harmony Echoes, songwriter Roosevelt Jamison (the author of ‘That’s How Strong My Love Is’) spotted him and brought him over to the Goldwax label where he signed in 1964. It was with Goldwax that James Carr would have his greatest successes. His real breakthrough came with ‘You Got My Mind Messed Up’ and he kept making hits until 1969 when his career ended abruptly.
According to most sources Carr was mentally unstable. Sometimes producers and engineers would have to get him from the roof of the studio after he got lost for his mind had a tendency to wander off to another world and leave the real world behind.
Carr’s career basically ended in the late 60’s. Some labels tried to sign him, as Atlantic did for one single, bu he was never able to make a real comeback Roosevelt Jamison continued taking good care of him however and even accompanied him to Japan for a tour. It was here that Carr suddenly stared into the audience during a performance and became catatonic after taking anti-depressants. After that episode he lived with his sister in a Memphis housing project during most of the 1980’s
Carr came back in the 1990’s and even recorded some new albums. Unfortunately, they only consisted of his voice backed up by awful synthesized instrumentation but his voice was still in order.
He died on January 7th, 2001 in Memphis of lung cancer.
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