Sweet Jimmie Died

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“Sweet Jimmie” Ward, the man who owned and operated Oakland nightclub Sweet Jimmie’s at 577 18th Street, died Friday night at the age of 74 due to heart problems, according to the Oakland Tribune. Ward, a former longshoreman who often wore a ship captain’s hat, had been in the bar business for more than forty years. Sweet Jimmie’s (located in the space now occupied by the New Parish), opened in 1987, was a popular spot for the well-heeled, mature crowd, attracting local celebrities and players from the Raiders and the A’s. Its Saturday-night lip-synching contests were broadcast on Soul Beat, and at one point it was one of the biggest live-music clubs in Oakland. Sweet Jimmie’s son, David, took over the club around 2004 and changed the format from blues and soul to more hip-hop oriented. However, the Wards closed the club in April 2006 after numerous problems with police and with city officials due to nearby violence. "In all their attempts to shut us down, it just wasn't worth the gamble," said son David, aka Sweets, in a 2006 interview with the Express. A public service for Ward will be held Thursday, February 11, with a quiet hour starting at 7 p.m. at Good Hope Church (5717 Foothill Blvd., Oakland). Guests are invited to speak. The public funeral will be held Friday at noon at the same location. A Lifetime Achievement Award Show & Benefit for Sweet Jimmie will be held on Sunday, February 21, at Kimball's (522 2nd St., Oakland), starting at 5 p.m. Tickets cost $25. To purchase, call 510-681-5422, 510-417-2380, or 510-499-4070.

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