Jean Knight, 'Mr. Big Stuff' Singer, Dead At 80

The New Orleans singer hit No. 2 in 1971 with the smash, which has been heard in TV and movies ever since.

Jean Knight, who sang the 1971 soul classic “Mr. Big Stuff,” died on Nov. 22 of natural causes. She was 80.

The singer died of natural causes in her hometown of New Orleans, People reported on Monday.

Knight’s family released a statement announcing the death, saying that “New Orleans and the music world mourns the loss of one of its most treasured, musical daughters,” and called her “an integral part of the city’s musical legacy.”

Born Jean Caliste, Knight wanted to be a professional singer right out of high school.

After a cover version of Jackie Wilson’s “Stop Doggin’ Me Around” attracted some buzz, she adopted Knight as a stage name.

Knight’s big break came one day in 1970 when she recorded “Mr. Big Stuff” at a Jackson, Mississippi, recording studio.

Which it’s catchy tagline — “Mr. Big Stuff, who do you think you are?” — the song became a big hit in 1971, reaching No. 2 on the pop charts and No. 1 on the R&B charts.

The vibes at the studio must have been good, because singer King Floyd also recorded his 1970 Top 10 hit, “Groove Me,” the same day, according to

Although that was Knight’s most famous song, she did make a comeback of sorts in 1985 with a cover of the zydeco hit, “My Toot Toot.”

But “Mr. Big Stuff” never really died, being used in TV, moves, and even as the jingle for Oreo Big Stuf cookies in the 1980s.

Still, her biggest personal achievement that decade might have been graduating from nursing school. said Knight worked as a nurse for many years even while continuing to sing.

Knight is survived by a son, Dr. Emile Commedore, of Tampa, Florida; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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