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General Crook

Soulful and innately funky, like James Brown or Dyke of Dyke & the Blazers fame, General Crook made groovy records with feeling and never cut anything mundane; unfortunately, hits just weren't in his chart. Crook was born on February 28, 1945, in Mound Bayou, MS, and raised in nearby Greenville. A country boy with a city boy's heart, he relocated to Chicago (like many Mississippians) after high school at the age of 17.

Seven years later, he honed his talents enough to get a recording deal with Capitol Records, armed with material by the Salty Peppers (who evolved into Earth, Wind & Fire). Maurice White, Wade Flemons, and Donald Whitehead wrote Crook's first single, "In the Warmth of My Arms" (1969), but it did nothing to establish Crook anywhere except the Chicago lounges where he was already a legend. A second single, "When Love Leaves You Crying" (1970), written by Crook and John Jones, never took off, and the association with Capitol ended on a sour note.

Later in 1970 on Down to Earth Records, a label small enough to fit in Capitol's coin pocket, Crook scaled the R&B charts with "Gimme Some," reaching number 22. He danced again in 1971 with "What Time Is It," which reached number 31 on the R&B charts. While the little hits provided Crook a rush, he didn't chart very high, and nothing came close to crossing over for the man who -- judging by his birth name -- would have made his parents extremely happy if he had chose the military as a career.

A stint with Wand Records produced three well-played R&B hits -- "The Best Years of My Life" (1973), "Tell Me What 'Cha Gonna Do," and the immortal "There's a Fever in the Funkhouse" (both 1974) -- and the self-titled album General Crook. He returned with Down to Earth in 1974, but missed with "What I'm Getting Now and What I'm Used to Ain't the Same" and "Do It for Me." He later turned away from his singing career to concentrate on producing and writing for others (i.e., Syl Johnson and Willie Clayton) while cutting the occasional one-off single, such as "Main Squeeze" and "In This Thing Called Love." ~ Andrew Hamilton
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