Joe Evans, well-respected musician and founder of Carnival Records, died on Jan. 17 in Richmond, Virginia of undisclosed causes. He was 97 years old.
Evans established Carnival in 1961. Affiliated with more than 30 solo artists and groups, the label was also home to the Manhattans, whom Evans signed in 1964. While with Carnival, the veteran R&B group first gained national prominence with the No. 12 R&B hit “I Wanna Be (Your Everything)” followed by the top 20 hits “Searchin’ for My Baby” and “Follow Your Heart.”
Carnival was the culmination of a professional career that took root in 1939. Born Joseph James Evans on Oct. 7, 1916 in Bonifay, Florida and raised in Pensacola, Evans moved to New York City and began honing his skills as a multi-instrumentalist. Playing alto and baritone saxophone, flute and clarinet, he performed in the U.S. and Europe in the ‘40s and ‘50s with bands led by such celebrated talents as Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Jimmy Lunceford, Cab Calloway and Thomas “Fats” Waller.