Obituary – Gone But Not Forgotten!

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Jimmy Curtiss 1940 - 2022

The life of Jimmy Curtiss 

 

Jimmy Curtiss was born on July 2. 1940 as James Martin Stulberger in New York. He grew up in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island. While still in high school he joined a doo-wop group called The EmJays. The band wrote a few songs themselves and released at least three singles in 1958/59.

 

At 18, Jimmy began studying art and commercial design at Marshall College in West Virginia. At the same time he was signed by United Artists as a solo artist.

In 1960 his debut solo single Without You /bw The Simple Things was released, which was played on the radio (in New York and Boston, among other places) but, like the debut of the EmJays, did not appear in the national charts.

 

In 1961 a second single Love Sweet Love /bw Miss Untrue followed again on United Artists.

In spring 1962 a third 7"45 You Got What I Like /bw Five Smooth Stones was released on Warner Brothers Records in the UK.

 

In 1962 Jimmy married his beloved wife Eleanor Wright with whom he had two sons.

 

In 1963 Jimmy completed his college education and began working in the advertising industry. But he continued to write songs on the side. And in 1965 two more 7"45s were released on Laurie Records. This one was called Not For You /bw You're What's Happening Baby, written by Ernie Maresca. Jimmy Curtiss recorded his next single, Girl From The Land Of 1000 Dances /bw Let's Dance Close on Laurie in 1965.

 

In 1967 Jimmy Curtiss decided to make music full-time.

 

Together with Ernie Maresca he wrote Psychedelic Situation and the B-side of this single Gone But Not Forgotten. Another 7"45 was planned Laughing At The Rain /bw Mr. Jingle Jangle Man.

 

Also in 1967 Child Of Clay was released, the biggest charter success in which Jimmy was involved. He had written the song together with Ernie Maresca, and the US pop singer Jimmie Rodgers, whose greatest hits include Honeycomb and Kisses Sweeter Than Wine, reached number 31 in the US charts with Child Of Clay in the summer of 1967.

 

Jimmy was now also active as a writer and producer for other artists. In 1967 he became a member of the band The Hobbits, in which the enchanting Heather Hewitt was also a band member. The first LP Down To Middle Earth was released in late 1967 on Decca.

 

1968 reappeared on Decca the second LP of the Hobbits under the title Men And Doors, The Hobbits Communicate was published.

 

The other musicians and Terry Philips had meanwhile founded the company Perception Productions, for which Jimmy Curtiss had also worked from the beginning.

 

From 1969 the company released its productions on its own label Perception Records. Jimmy Curtiss was there as he himself once says: "executive vice president, creative director with responsibilities as art director, staff producer, writer and talent coordinator”.

 

The first LP on his own Perception label was Jimmy Curtiss' solo album Life, which was released in 1969. The band recruits itself from the environment of Curtiss and Perception. 

Also in 1969 The Hobbits were revived as The New Hobbits by Curtiss. An LP under the title Back From Middle Earth was produced.

 

In 1969-72 Jimmy Curtiss also wrote several bubblegum songs for bands like The Sweet Bippies (with Ken Stecher on guitar) or The Changing Colours.

 

In 1974 Curtiss retired from the music business and worked again exclusively in advertising, mainly as a lyricist and graphic designer, but also as a composer of advertising songs. "I never considered myself a musician. I played good enough to write, but not perform," he wrote in 2007.

During this next year’s Jimmy also wrote music for TV commercials. He created also the legendary and famous commercial song for Bumbel Bee Tuna in 1974.

 

In 2016 Jimmy gave a small private radio station in New Jersey a quite detailed interview (you can listen to it on this website). It became clear that he always understood music as a means to a livelihood. After all, he had a family to support from the mid-1960s on. He often felt exploited and betrayed by his colleagues and colleagues in the music business, which ultimately led to his withdrawal from the world of pop music. But he never stopped writing songs and making music, so he kept recording his own songs on demo tapes. One of these "demos" can be found exclusively on this site - it is Jimmy's unofficial country album "Private Road".

 

His last commercial musical project was a Christmas album which was sold in Disney World.

 

James Stulberger aka Jimmy Curtiss passed away on February 2. 2022 at the age of 81.

 

Heather Hewitt: “The time I spent with the Hobbits was the happiest days in my life. We had a lot of fun touring together for the brief time that I was with them. I send my love and wishes to Jimmy’s family” - May 2022.

 

Ken Stecher (guitarist of the Sweet Bippies): "This is very sad, my deepest sympathy for the family and friends”. – May 2022

YouG (webmaster of www.jimmycurtis.com):  "Dear Jimmy, no matter where you are now, we will never forget you! You were a good person, caring family father and husband. You never got the recognition you deserved for your music.

I will continue to honor you and your musical life's work.

You may be gone - but not forgotten!

Thank you for your great trust in me and my work, for your generous gesture to give me two of your demo tapes and for your always kind words". – May 2022

We will miss you!

YouG for jimmycurtiss.com - May 2022