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Blues singer Jesse Fortune, best known for his work with Willie Dixon and the often-covered song “Too Many Cooks”, collapsed on stage while performing at Gene’s Playmate Lounge, 4239 W. Cermak Ave, on Chicago’s West Side, on Sunday night, August 30, 2009. He was taken by paramedics to Mt. Sinai hospital and was pronounced dead at 12:51 a.m. on August 31. The cause of death was coronary atherosclerosis, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. Funeral service announcements are pending.

Mr. Fortune was born on February 28, 1930 in Macon, Mississippi and grew up near Hattiesburg. A huge fan of B.B. King, who influenced his powerful vocal style, Fortune moved to Chicago in 1952. He became one of Willie Dixon’s favorite singers, who produced, recorded and wrote songs for him. The singer worked all over town in the ‘50s-‘60s with Dixon, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Big Walter Horton, Otis Clay, Lonnie Brooks and Eddy Clearwater, to name a few. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, he retired from singing and opened a barber shop at 134 S. Pulaski, where his customers often asked him to sing and gave him the moniker, “the singing barber.” Fortune made a comeback in the ‘90s and Delmark recorded his Fortune Tellin’ Man LP in 1993. Produced by Dave Specter, who wrote the title track and played on it with his band, the disc revived the singer's career.

jess fortune