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Jimmy Castor, Funk Bandleader, Has Died

Songwriter and bandleader Jimmy Castor in a photo taken during the Jimmy Castor Bunch era. Castor began his career as a doo-wop singer, later picked up the saxophone and had his greatest success in the 1970s as the leader of a funk group. David Reed/Redferns/Getty Images hide caption

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David Reed/Redferns/Getty Images

Songwriter and bandleader Jimmy Castor in a photo taken during the Jimmy Castor Bunch era. Castor began his career as a doo-wop singer, later picked up the saxophone and had his greatest success in the 1970s as the leader of a funk group.

David Reed/Redferns/Getty Images

Funk saxophonist Jimmy Castor, who recorded a string of R&B hits in the 1970s with his group, the Jimmy Castor Bunch, died on Monday morning in Las Vegas at the age of 71. Castor's son tells NPR that the likely cause was heart failure.

Castor began his musical career as a doo-wop singer in New York City in the '50s, picked up the sax in the '60s and in the '70s formed the group whose most famous song was "Troglodyte," a hit about a boogying caveman looking for a mate.

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Other Castor songs, like "It's Just Begun" and "I Just Wanna Stop," were given new life in hip-hop when they were sampled by musicians as varied as Grandmaster Melle Mel and The Furious Five, Ultramagnetic MCs, N.W.A. and Kanye West.