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 Jesse Belvin

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Jesse Belvin

Singer, Songwriter. Jesse Belvin, who co-wrote one of the biggest hits of the 1950’s – “Earth Angel,” a hit for The Penguins in 1955, is one of the least known or recognized names among the greats of R&B and Soul music. Raised in Los Angeles, Belvin became part of the city’s flourishing R&B scene while still in his teens. He was featured on “All the Wine is Gone,” a 1950 single by Big Jay McNeely, but his career was interrupted by military service. “Earth Angel” was a collaboration with two fellow servicemen, but Belvin enjoyed a major hit of his own with “Goodnight My Love,” a romantic ballad adopted by disc jockey Alan Freed as the closing theme to his highly influential radio show, and also used by Dick Clark as the closing theme for “American Bandstand” for several years. Belvin also recorded with fellow songwriter, Marvin Phillips, as Jesse & Marvin, achieving a Top 10 R&B hit in 1953 with “Dream Girl”. In 1958 Belvin formed a quintet, The Shields, to record for Dot Records the national top 20 hit “You Cheated.” That same year he was signed by RCA Records, who planned to showcase him much like Nat King Cole. Additional hits included “Funny” and “Guess Who?” the latter of which was written by his wife and manager, Jo Ann. Belvin and his wife were killed in a car crash just hours after he had performed in front of the first integrated concert audience in the history of Little Rock, Arkansas. The concert was stopped twice by interruptions from whites in the audience, shouting racial epithets and urging the white teenagers in attendance to leave at once. There had been at least six death threats on Belvin prior to the concert and there was speculation that Belvin’s car had been tampered with prior to the accident, though nothing was ever proved. Belvin and his driver died at the scene of the accident, while Jo Ann died from her injuries at the Hope hospital. They left two children orphaned, until Jesse’s mother agreed to assume legal custody.

Bio by: Craig Johnson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 4 Mar 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 8674
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Jesse Belvin (15 Dec 1932–6 Feb 1960), Find A Grave Memorial no. 8674, citing Evergreen Cemetery, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .