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Singer Al Hibbler Dies at 85

Al Hibbler, the distinctive baritone with a Cockney accent that sang with the Duke Ellington Orchestra throughout the 1940s, died April 24 at Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago. He was 85.

Though best remembered for his renditions of Ellington tunes like “I’m Just a Lucky

So and So” and “Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me,” Hibbler also had a successful solo career in the 1950s and 60s, scoring hits with “Unchained Melody” and “After the Lights Go Down Low.”

Born blind in Tyro, Miss., Hibbler moved to Little Rock, Ark. at the age of 12, where he studied singing at the Conservatory for the Blind. His studies paid off as he began to win amateur singing contests in Memphis, Tenn. After leading his own group in Texas and touring with Jay McShann’s band in 1942, Hibbler joined Ellington’s Orchestra in 1943. In addition to his work with Ellington, Hibbler recorded with Billy Taylor, Gerald Wilson, Count Basie and Rahsaan Roland Kirk. He was also given the honor of singing “When the Saints Go Marching In” at Louis Armstrong’s funeral in 1971.

Originally Published