Legendary funk singer Jean Knight has died from natural causes at age 80, her family announced in a press release over the weekend. She was best known for her 1971 single "Mr. Big Stuff," which went double platinum and made it to No. 2 on the Billboard 200.
"New Orleans and the music world mourns the loss of one of its most treasured musical daughters," the family's statement says. Knight died on Wednesday, but her passing wasn't announced until Sunday.
The singer's musical career began in 1965 when she recorded a demo version of "Doggin' Me Around" for JetStream records at age 22. Before hitting it big, Knight also kept a day job as a baker, People reported. "Mr. Big Stuff" was undoubtedly Knight's biggest claim to fame, but she also saw success with 1971's "You Think You're Hot Stuff" and 1985's "My Toot Toot," which both charted on the Billboard Hot 100.
The singer's music remained relevant for decades. "Mr. Big Stuff" returned to the limelight in the 1990s and sold an additional one million copies, the family's statement said. Her lesser-known 1972 track "Do Me" was featured on the soundtrack for the 2007 comedy film Superbad.
Knight was also an important figure in the New Orleans music scene. "Beyond touring and recording studios, Ms. Knight loved cooking delicious Creole dishes for her family and friends, celebrating Mardi Gras with several local krewes, and proudly served on the Louisiana Music Commission," her family said.
Social media commenters commemorated Knight online. "Very sad news. Another beloved giant gone to the ages," one said. "I was just belting that song out at work! RIP QUEEN!" said another.
The musician's family requested "privacy during this difficult time" and thanked fans for their support.
"Ms. 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,” their statement says. “As we bid farewell to this iconic soulstress, New Orleans and her global fan base join together in gratitude for the inedible much left on the world."