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Jesse Belvin

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Biography

Jesse Lorenzo Belvin (December 15, 1932 – February 6, 1960) was an American R&B singer, pianist and songwriter popular in the 1950s, whose success was cut short by his death in a car crash aged 27.

Career
Belvin was born in San Antonio, Texas, and moved with his family to Los Angeles at the age of five. In 1950 he joined saxophonist Big Jay McNeely’s backing vocal quartet, Three Dots and a Dash, and featured prominently on their record releases. In 1952 he joined Specialty Records. Although his early solo records were unsuccessful, his fourth record, “Dream Girl”, credited to Jesse & Marvin and featuring Marvin Phillips on saxophone, reached #2 on the R&B charts in 1953.

He was then drafted for a spell in the army, but continued to write songs. His composition “Earth Angel”, eventually co-credited to Belvin and Hollywood Flames singers Curtis Williams and Gaynel Hodge after a legal dispute, was recorded by The Penguins, and became one of the first R&B singles to cross over onto the pop charts, selling a million copies in 1954/55.

In 1956, he signed a contract with Modern Records, but also continued to sing for other labels under different names. His biggest hit was “Goodnight My Love”, which he co-wrote and which reached #7 on the R&B chart. The piano on the session was reportedly played by the 11 year old Barry White. The song became the closing theme to Alan Freed’s rock and roll radio shows.

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