Jimmy Boyd (January 9, 1939 – March 7, 2009) was an American singer, musician, and actor. He was best known for his recording of the song "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus".
James Boyd was born near McComb, Mississippi to Leslie and Winnie Boyd. His father was a farmer and picked cotton to help support his own family of 21 brothers and sisters. When Jimmy Boyd was 2 years old, his father put his wife and their two sons on a train to Riverside, California. With not enough money to buy tickets for himself, Leslie Boyd hitchhiked on freight trains to join his family.
Jimmy Boyd's grandfather, William Boyd ("Fiddler Bill") played at dances and family gatherings in Mississippi. Fiddler Bill's children inherited his talent and they all sang or played musical instruments. Leslie played guitar and harmonica and began teaching Jimmy to play the guitar at 9 years old. Leslie had been a farmer when a drought hit and there were no more crops, so he picked cotton. He could pick over 600 pounds of cotton a day himself, and was paid 25 cents. Although there was no cotton in California to pick, this time they were determined to stay. Leslie got a menial job cleaning up construction sites, quickly becoming an accomplished finish carpenter.
Leslie and Winnie Boyd occasionally took the children to a country and western dance, held in a barn in Colton, California, a few miles from Riverside. Jimmy's older brother Kenneth, about 9 years old at the time, went up to the bandstand and told the band leader, Texas Jim Lewis, that he should hear his little brother sing and play the guitar. Lewis called little seven-year-old Jimmy up to the stage to sing and play. After the dance was over, Lewis and the manager of a local radio station approached Boyd’s parents to ask if he could be a part of the hour-long radio show they planned to broadcast from the dance every Saturday night, offering to pay Boyd $50 for every appearance.
Leslie Boyd had cataracts in both eyes and required cataract surgery, a serious operation in the 1950s. The operation was performed in Los Angeles. While in L.A., they were told about auditions being held for the Al Jarvis Talent Show on KLAC-TV (now KCOP-TV). Boyd auditioned for Jarvis and appeared on the show that night. He won the contest, and the next day Jarvis and KLAC received numerous telegrams and telephone calls from viewers.
Al Jarvis had a five-hour talk show every day on KLAC-TV with a few regulars on it, including Betty White, called Hollywood On Television. Jarvis immediately announced that Boyd would be a regular on the show. Several appearances singing and doing comedy skits with Frank Sinatra on CBS-TV's The Frank Sinatra Show soon followed.
In the mid-'60s Boyd had a top 5 record produced by one of his favorite artists Leon Russell and Snuffy Garrett, and engineered by another of his favorite artists J.J. Cale. The flip side, "Will I Cry", was written, engineered, had backup vocals and guitar instrumentals by J.J. Cale. Boyd stated that it was one of his all-time fun and favorite recording sessions and that he didn't care if it didn't sell a single record. The experience with Leon and J.J. was a "once in a lifetime high, and I don't mean drugs... necessarily"!
Another favorite recording session of Boyd's was a song written by Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, "That's What I'll Give to You". Terry Melcher produced the session for Boyd on Vee-Jay Records. Vee-Jay was the first company to release all the early Beatles records in the United States. Before Boyd's single was released, Vee-Jay was sued by Capitol and lost all the royalties and rights to the Beatles. Vee-Jay Records went bankrupt. The song was recently released on Rhino Records. Herb Alpert had visited the session at Vee-Jay and liked it so much he asked Boyd and Melcher to record for his and Jerry Moss' label, A&M Records. While recording the album, the Manson murders occurred at a house in which Melcher had previously lived, prompting Melcher to abandon the project and go into seclusion. The album was never finished.
Bobby Darin wrote and produced a record, Made In The Shade, for Boyd. Although they had met briefly at different events, Boyd and Bobby became friends while working on different movies at Universal Studios. Unfortunately, Boyd stated, "It was released at the same time as Phil Spector's first amazing "Wall of Sound" recordings. Our record was more like a mound of sound and was lost somewhere behind the wall ... Bobby was one of the most talented people I've ever known," says Boyd. "Had he lived he would have sustained the same kind of legendary career that Sinatra had ... He could do it all. He could write and sing rock and roll, folk, jazz, or croon with Sinatra. And in each genre be as good or better than the best in each field. And if that wasn't enough, he was very witty and funny. If I didn't like him so much I could've hated him for being so talented."
In 1960 Boyd married actress Yvonne Craig (TV's Batgirl). After a year of marriage, Boyd was drafted into the Army and was stationed in Texas. Separation proved unfortunate to his marriage, which ended in divorce in 1962. Boyd went to the Republic of Vietnam in 1965 with his own show for the USO. In February 1967 he also joined in Nancy Sinatra's USO trip to entertain American troops in South Vietnam.
Boyd married a second time in in 1980. He and Anne Forrey Boyd had a son together, but divorced in 1984. He remained single for the rest of his life. When asked, "What's the most exciting thing that ever happened to you?" his reply was, "The birth of my son."
Jimmy Boyd died of cancer in 2009 at the age of 70
|Born||January 9, 1939|
McComb, Pike County, Mississippi,USA
|Died||March 7, 2009 (aged 70)|
Santa Monica, California
|Occupation||Actor, musician, singer|
|Spouse(s)||Yvonne Craig (1960-1962)|
Anne Forrey (1980-1984)