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Chicago lounge singer Jimmy Damon dies at 75

Jimmy Damsings Chicago's Fairmont Hotel 1999. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

Jimmy Damon sings at Chicago's Fairmont Hotel in 1999. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: April 28, 2013 3:49PM

Jimmy Damon, a popular fixture on Chicago’s cabaret and nightlife scene, died Saturday, his 75th birthday, at Rush University Medical Center’s Horizon Hospice Care Unit. According to Mr. Damon’s daughter, Dana Damon-Trentadue, her father had been afflicted by a rare blood disease — something that strikes “one in a million” — that eventually attacked his heart and caused his death.

Jimmy Damon had been a very visible presence on the Chicago music scene since moving here from his native Memphis in the mid-1960s. As a youth, the young singer, born James Demopoulos, began singing at church, local venues like the Kiwanis Club and his father’s Memphis restaurant, the New York Cafe. It was there that he met and then performed with such future major stars as Conway Twitty and Elvis Presley.

After moving to Chicago, Mr. Damon appeared regularly at numerous clubs, including a long gig at the old Cousins Club on East Superior. Chicago producer Lou Volpano told the Sun-Times in 1999 that 20 years earlier he brought John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray to see Damon at That Steak Joynt next to Second City, and afterward Murray “kept making big jokes about it.” Murray later played the Damon-like Nick the Lounge Singer numerous times on “Saturday Night Live.”

While always a big fan of Elvis, Mr. Damon himself modeled his ultimate singing style on Frank Sinatra, a man he told the Sun-Times in various interviews “was the true ‘American Idol.’ ”

In his final years, Mr. Damon staged his own Sinatra tribute show and performed it throughout the Midwest.

Along with his daughter Dana, Mr. Damon is survived by his wife, Marilyn. a second daughter, Alexa Damon-Soegaard, and a grandson, Antonio Trentadue.

Funeral plans are pending.

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