Linda Jones died at 27 years and 91 days old on March 14, 1972. Her death was attributed to complications from diabetes which she had suffered from since childhood. Jones was in many ways the epitome of the American female soul singer, with a range and power that made her recordings dramatic, passionate, painful, and cathartic. Her musical style was many years ahead of the times in the genre of R&B, being much more similar to modern singers in her melismatic and histrionic vocalizations and treatments. Unfortunately, she was cut down just when it looked like she might have some degree of success after many years of struggle. This was yet another irony that seems to stick to members of the forever 27 club like glue, and certainly leads one to wonder about the cruelties of fate – or the curse of impending stardom.
Jones was born on December 14, 1944, in Newark, New Jersey. Her talents were evident to her musical parents from an early age, and she joined the Jones Singers when she was 6 years old. The gospel group was a source of inspiration and education for the young girl, and she thrived in the unique setting. She undoubtedly learned her approach to singing in this real-life school, since her recordings have many of the hallmarks of gospel – the energy and passion, the choral back-ups, the church-derived instrumental accompaniment. When she was 19 she made her first recording, a song called “Lonely Teardrops,” released with the name of Linda Lane. After a couple of years and labels were unsuccessful for her, she was signed to a subsidiary of Warner Brothers Records, Loma, in 1967 and had her first hit with “Hypnotized.” In 1971 she joined Turbo Records and recorded for them until her untimely death.
It was at this promising point in her career that she learned the true nature of the symptoms that had bothered her for some time – diabetes. With some hit singles under her belt and a growing reputation as a powerful and one-of-a-kind female soul stylist, she was appearing at the famous Apollo Theater in New York City. She had gone to her nearby home to rest between an afternoon show and a scheduled evening show when she suddenly lapsed into a coma from the disease that she had only recently learned she had. She died at 27 in the hospital soon after arriving there. She is buried in the Rosedale and Rosehill Cemetery in Linden, New Jersey.
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