J. Hines & The Fellows – Camelot Time

7th February 2023 · 1970s, 1973, Music, Soul

James Hines is one of the more fascinating figures of funk and soul – a six-foot-seven, 300-pound, legally blind albino guitarist, producer, composer who became a preacher after getting his sight back.

Despite his blindness – a consequenece of his albinism – New York-born James Hines had a photographic memory and could take a car engine apart and rebuild it with his bare hands.

He was given an electric guitar for his 16th birthday and his career began when he hooked up with Roy Hammond, the owner of a record store in Brooklyn.

They set up their own label, Alaga, co-writing and playing on the first release, a song called In Divorce Court – a forerunner of Hammond’s later hit Shotgun Wedding, released under the name Roy C.

Hammond next created a subsidiary label named Nation-Wide as an outlet for other local artists, its first release being Funky Funk Part I & II by J Hines and the Boys, who went on to release the slow-burn ballad Going Down For The Last Time b/w Can’t Think Of Nothing (Blank Mind).

‘J’ (as everyone called him) was playing the guitar on Roy’s great Alaga releases as well and he and Hammond were especially popular down south. He formed his own band, J Hines and The Fellows, who made Camelot Time – their only minor hit – in 1973.

In the early eighties Hines underwent revolutionary eye surgery that dramatically improved his vision and decided to walk away from his music career and dedicate his life to God, becoming a minister in the early nineties and spreading the word in hospitals and prisons until his death from cancer in 2004.

The only thing wrong with this song is that it ought to go on longer… much longer than two minutes. And it’s only the B-side of the equally magnificent Victory Strut.