Soul Serenade: The Jimmy Castor Bunch, “Troglodyte (Cave Man)”

Written by Ken Shane's Soul Serenade, Music

The Jimmy Castor Bunch scored with a funky hit in 1972.

Jimmy Castor Bunch

Soul Serenade - Jimmy CastorThe other day I noticed that I hadn’t seen a friend of mine around Facebook in a few days. This is someone whose posts I was used to seeing regularly. I could no longer even find her profile when I searched for it. I thought perhaps she had unfriended me, but I knew I hadn’t given her any cause to do that. So I sent her a text message, and she replied that she was taking a hiatus from Facebook.

I was interested in her reasons for this, because I think a hiatus from Facebook would be a good idea for many of us from time to time. There’s a reason it’s known as Crackbook. She explained that she’d withdrawn because guys were hitting on her and asking her out every day, and she just had to get away from it. My first reaction was to be ashamed of my gender, and not for the first time. We’re all too guilty of dumping unwanted attention on women, even when it’s made clear that our attention is unwanted. My next thought was … troglodytes.

And that brings us to Jimmy Castor. He was born in 1940, and got his start singing doo wop in New York City. In 1956 Jimmy Castor and the Juniors scored a hit for Wing Records with “I Promise to Remember.” A year later, Castor replaced Frankie Lymon in the Teenagers after Lymon decided to try for a solo career. But Castor’s real shot at stardom began in 1960 when he switched from vocals to sax as his primary instrument.

It took a few years, but Castor finally had a hit with “Hey Leroy, Your Mama’s Callin’ You’ in 1966. The Smash Records release reached #16 on the R&B chart, and #31 on the Pop chart that year. By the time he had his next, and biggest hit, Castor had formed the Jimmy Castor Bunch, which included keyboard player and trumpeter Gerry Thomas, bass player Doug Gibson, guitarist Harry Jensen, conga player Lenny Fridle, Jr., and drummer Bobby Manigault.

In 1972 the group released their first album, It’s Just Begun, and indeed it had. The album included two hit singles, the biggest of which was undeniably “Troglodyte (Cave Man).” “Troglodyte raced up the charts, peaking at #6 on the Pop chart, and #4 on the R&B chart. The track stayed on the chart for 14 weeks and had sold a million copies by the middle of that year.

The follow-up single didn’t do quite as well, but was a hit nonetheless. “The Bertha Butt Boogie (Part 1)” made it to #16 on the Pop chart, and #22 on the R&B chart in 1975. Castor had another chart record that year when “King Kong” went #69 Pop, and #23 R&B. He never had another hit on the Pop chart, but several subsequent singles, including “Supersound,” “Space Age,” “Don’t Do That,” and “Love Makes a Woman” (a Joyce Sims record that featured Castor) made the Top 50 on the R&B chart.

Songs by the Jimmy Castor Bunch have been sampled over and over, and used in several films, but Castor’s own recording career stopped with the 1988 hit. Jimmy Castor died in 2012. He was 71 years-old.