Jimmy Castor

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LAS VEGAS  Jimmy Castor, a New York funk and soul saxophonist, singer and songwriter whose tune "It's Just Begun" morphed over 40 years into an anthem for generations of hip-hoppers and mainstream musical acts, died of apparent heart failure Monday in a Las Vegas hospital. He was 71.

Castor's music, including another 1972 hit, "Troglodyte," spoke for itself thousands of times in riffs and samples by such groups as N.W.A., the 2 Live Crew, Kanye West, Ice Cube and Mos Def, as well as such acts as the Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera and Madonna.

His son, Jimmy Castor Jr., 45, a filmmaker from Redondo Beach, Calif., told The Associated Press he's seen instant recognition hundreds of times at the first sax chords of "It's Just Begun"  even before the lyrics begin. ("Watch me now. Feel the groove. Into something. Gonna make you move.")

"No matter what country you're in, no matter what language you speak, everyone knows it," Jimmy Castor Jr. said in Las Vegas.

Jimmy Castor was hospitalized in November after suffering a heart attack, and underwent quadruple bypass surgery. He died Monday at Saint Rose Dominican Hospital, his son said.

Castor, head of the musical group the Jimmy Castor Bunch, lived with his wife, Sandi, in suburban Henderson near Las Vegas.

His work was sampled by other artists more than 3,000 times, his son said, and he continued to work and perform until last August, when he played at the Long Beach Funk Festival in California. Jimmy Castor Jr. said his father had booked dates for a European tour this year.

Published in The Record on Jan. 20, 2012
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