Just as Adele’s 21 is aiming to tie the 24-week run atop Billboard‘s Top 200 chart that the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack enjoyed 35 years ago, one of the artists featured on the latter has passed away. Jimmy Ellis, frontman of Philadelphia soul and disco band The Trammps, died yesterday following complications from Alzheimer’s disease. The singer died in a South Carolina nursing home at the age of 74.
Ellis was a founding member of The Trammps, who were born out of previous acts The Volcanos and The Moods. Once The Trammps’ original lineup was established in 1972, the band caught disco fever and racked up minor hits with songs like “Hold Back The Night” and “That’s Where The Happy People Go”.
But it was their stomping dance hit “Disco Inferno”, with its refrain of “burn, baby, burn,” that really caught fire. The song, originally released in 1976, was later included on the Grammy-winning Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and it eventually peaked at #11 on the Hot 100.
The Trammps — “Disco Inferno”
All of the members of The Trammps, save for Ellis, eventually left the band, but he carried on over the years by touring with new members. “Disco Inferno”, seemingly destined to be intertwined with movies, was later covered in the ’90s by both Tina Turner for the What’s Love Got To Do With It? soundtrack and Cyndi Lauper for the A Night At The Roxbury soundtrack.
The original members of The Trammps reunited in 2005 for the induction of “Disco Inferno” into the Dance Music Hall Of Fame in New York.
According to E! Online, a memorial service for Ellis is set for March 16 at the Central Church of God in Charlotte, North Carolina.