April 29, 2013 03:17:44 GMT
The singer who inspired Bill Murray's classic 'Nick the Lounge Singer' character passed away on his 75th birthday after battling a rare heart disease.
Jimmy Damon, one of Chicago's most beloved nightlife singers, has passed away. The well-known crooner in cabaret music scene died late Saturday, April 27, which happened to be his 75th birthday, after battling a rare heart disease.
He died at Rush University Medical Center's Horizon Hospice Care Unit on South Paulina Ave. while being treated for cardiac amyloidosis. He is survived by his wife, his daughters Alexa Damon-Soegaard and Dana Damon-Trentadue, and a grandson Antonio Trentadue.
Born Jimmy Demopoulos in Memphis, Tenn., Jimmy left his hometown for Milwaukee and then moved to Chicago to pursue his singing career. In 1968, he reinvented himself as Jimmy Damon and took inspirations from Frank Sinatra, whom he became friends with, and Elvis Presley, who once frequented his father's restaurant in Memphis.
During his years-long career, Jimmy had performed in many clubs and theaters from a near-empty lounge, weddings, funerals, charity events and a jam-packed Wrigley Field. He also shared a stage with his idol Presley and another big star Conway Twitty.
Bill Murray was so impressed by Jimmy after watching him relentlessly working the room at a gig that the comedian based his classic "Saturday Night Live" character "Nick the Lounge Singer" on the crooner. "I wasn't upset," Jimmy once told the Chicago Tribute, before jokingly added, "I just wish he'd sent me a check. He owes me a lot of money."
In his final years, Jimmy staged his own Sinatra tribute concert. "My father was the only one who was authorized in writing by Frank Sinatra and his family to sing his music," his daughter Dana told Chicago Sun-Times.
In 2011, he was honored at the 13th annual Chicago Cabaret Professionals Gala at Park West. "It's probably one of the highest honors I've received in my career, to get this from where I've spent my adult life - Chicago," he gushed.