Jean Knight Dies: Funk Singer Best Known For Hit ‘Mr Big Stuff’ Was 80

Jean Knight Dies: Funk Singer Best Known For Hit ‘Mr Big Stuff’ Was 80

Jean Knight, the voice behind Mr Big Stuff, one of the most recognizable songs of the 1970s funk era, has died aged 80. 

Knight’s longtime publicist confirmed her death with multiple media outlets. Bernie Cyrus, executive director of the Louisiana Music Commission and Knight’s longtime friend, also confirmed the news to Rolling Stone. She died of natural causes.

Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Knight cut her first demo track in 1965, a cover of Jackie Wilson’s Stop Doggin’ Me Around. After a series of regionally successful singles, Knight found mainstream acclaim with Mr Big Stuff, her first recording for Stax Records. The song held for five weeks at number on the Billboard’s R&B charts, crossing over to peak at number on the Pop Charts. The record stayed on both charts for 16 weeks. 

Related Stories

Mr Big Stuff went double platinum, selling over two million records. Knight was nominated for a Grammy for the single. Over the years, the single featured prominently in countless films and TV shows, such as Spike Lee’s Crooklyn, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Simpsons, and The Deuce. Speaking on royalty checks from the track in 2002 Knight said: “Mr Big Stuff is better to me now than 31 years ago. All I have to do is sit at home and wait for the mailman.” 

In 1972, Jean hit the R&B charts again with Carry On. Her last recording for Stax, the song was considered a regional success. Before recording for Stax, Knight also recorded for the Houston-based Jet Stream label. Jet Stream also had Barbara Lynn and Bobby Patterson & the Mustangs were also on the label.