THE TRAGIC MURDER OF JESSE BELVIN:
If Jesse Belvin (pictured above) would have lived-he would have changed the landscape of R&B and Rock & Roll. Not only was he a gifted and electrifying entertainer, who was often compared to Jackie Wilson, Little Richard and Elvis Presley. Belvin was also a gifted songwriter who penned the classic “Earth Angel,” by the Penguins. This song was the biggest record of 1955. Belvin was unaware that publishing rights would become so lucrative; he sold the rights to the song for $200.
Belvin’s recording of “Goodnight My Love,” was used-by Dick Clark as the closing theme for “American Bandstand,” for several years. Belvin was also a great balladeer and was often compared to Nat King Cole.
Belvin, his wife JoAnn and his band were on a tour of the south; they had recently arrived in Little Rock, Arkansas. Belvin called his mother to complain about the racism and hostility. He added, ‘the racism is so intense, I’m thinking about canceling the remaining shows.’ Later that night, Belvin performed before an integrated audience. White supremacists managed to halt the show twice, shouting racial slurs and urging the white teenagers to leave at once. After the show, Belvin, his wife, and band returned to the hotel and hurriedly packed their bags.
Within an hour, Jesse Belvin, his wife JoAnn and his driver would die in a horrific automobile crash. One of the troopers stated that both rear tires on Belvin’s black Cadillac had been tampered with.
As word reached the black community in Belvin’s hometown of Los Angeles, there were rumors of foul play.
Belvin and his wife JoAnn were only 26 when they died; their two children were left orphans.