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Jimmy Mack

by

Martha & the Vandellas



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

This song is a tale of a woman whose boyfriend (the title role) has been gone for a long time, and she is currently being pursued by another man who is just as charming as Jimmy. She desperately hopes that Jimmy will return to her before she ends up falling for the other man.
This song was recorded in 1964 but was shelved from release because it sounded too much like a song by The Supremes. It was released as a single more than two years later right after the Vietnam War began. One of the debates concerning the war was how there were more African-American men than white men being sent to fight. This gave the song a different meaning to listeners, many of whom had loved ones being sent overseas.
A version by Sheena Easton reached US #65 in 1986. (thanks, Jerro - New Alexandria, PA, for all above)
The song was written and produced by Motown's main creative team of Lamont Dozier and the brothers Brian and Eddie Holland. The inspiration for this song came from a 1964 music industry awards dinner, which Dozier attended. At the ceremony the mother of the songwriter Ronnie Mack accepted an award for her son, who had recently died, for his composition "He's So Fine." Under pressure to come up with a hit for Reeves and the Vandellas, Dozier and the team penned this song in part a tribute to Mack the writer. Dozier told NME in 1984: "'Jimmy Mack' was about a kid who had written a song that was quite popular. When they called out his name there was something, along with the way his mother picked up the award, that kind of moved me and the name stuck with me. So when a melody came about that name seemed to spring up and fit well with the music we were writing at the time."

Dorothy Sanders, who is Ronnie Mack's sister, contacted us to correct some of Dozier's statements. Ronnie Mack died of cancer at age 23, and Dozier could not have met his folks, since his father died many years before Ronnie wrote "He's So Fine."
The story goes that after lying on a shelf for a couple of years, Motown's boss, Berry Gordy got to hear the song. "Get this thing ready to go out right away," he is reported to have said when he heard the song. "This is a damn hit record."
Martha & the Vandellas
Martha & the Vandellas Artistfacts
More Martha & the Vandellas songs
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More songs about being away from loved ones

Comments (5):

On April 15th 1967, Martha and the Vandellas performed "Jimmy Mack" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
(See the next post below concerning chart info).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
On February 19th 1967, "Jimmy Mack" by Martha and the Vandellas entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #89; and on April 9th it peaked at #10 (for 3 weeks) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100...
And on May 7th, 1967 it reached #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's R&B Singles; the record that preceded it at #1 was "I Never Loved A Man" by Aretha Franklin, and it was succeeded at #1 by Aretha Franklin with "Respect"...
It was the groups' sixth and last Top 10 record on the Top 100; started with "Heat Wave" (#4 in 1963), "Quicksand" (#8 in 1964), "Dancing in the Street" (#2 in 1964), "Nowhere To Run" (#8 in 1965), "I'm Ready For Love" (#9 in 1966), and finally this one.
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
The group's first 15 releases, including "Jimmy Mack", used the name 'Martha and The Vandellas'.
In late 1967 "Honey Chile" was released under the name 'Martha Reeves and The Vandellas' {"Honey Chile" just missed making the Top 10, it peaked at #11!!!}
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
Martha Reeves claimed that she met six guys named Jimmy Mack after this song was recorded.
- John, Nashville, TN
The single release for this song is quite different than the album cut- on the single release, there is a slight drum intro, and on the album cut, there is not.
- Kristin, Bessemer, AL
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