Legendary 'Mr. Big Stuff' singer Jean Knight dies at 80

The R&B singer and New Orleans native was inducted into the Louisiana Music Commission Hall of Fame in 2007.
Posted at 3:30 PM, Nov 27, 2023

Legendary R&B singer Jean Knight, best known for her hit single "Mr. Big Stuff," has died at the age of 80.

Knight, a New Orleans native, passed away on Nov. 22, according to a press release.

The unattributed press release, which shared the news of Knight’s passing, was posted online by a local New Orleans reporter for WGNO. TMZ confirmed the validity of that release, and Knight’s friend Bernie Cyrus also confirmed her death to Rolling Stone.

"Jean Knight's legacy is not just a musical one; it is a testament to the enduring love between an artist, her hometown, and the fans who adored her. As we bid farewell to this iconic soulstress, New Orleans and her global fan base join together in gratitude for the indelible mark she left on the world," said the press release. 

"Beyond touring and recording studios, Ms. Knight loved cooking delicious Creole dishes for family and friends, celebrated Mardi Gras with several local krewes, and proudly served on the Louisiana Music Commission," it said.

Knight began her singing journey singing with bands at her cousin’s bar in the 1960s, according to the New York Post.

Her hit "Mr. Big Stuff," produced by the legendary Wardell Quezergue, brought Knight her big break. She also had success with hits "(Don't Mess With) My Toot Toot," and "Bill.” 

Even while her singing career was on the rise, Knight also worked as a bread baker.

Eventually, the R&B star went on to form her own music label, Comstar.

"Jean's powerhouse performances at the Essence Music Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival were legendary, with every note reflecting her sassiness and joyous spirit. Her concerts were not just performances but celebrations of the enduring bond she shared with those who appreciated her music," said the press release. "Whether in the intimate venues of the French Quarter or on the grand stages of global music festivals, Ms. Knight made every fan a cherished part of her extended musical family."

In 1972, Knight was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance. She lost to Aretha Franklin. 

Jean Knight was inducted into the Louisiana Music Commission Hall of Fame in 2007.