Ronald Bertram Aloysius Greaves III (28 November 1943 – 27 September 2012) was an American singer who had chart success in 1969 with the pop single "Take a Letter Maria". A number two hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, this single sold one million copies, and it earned gold record certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. Greaves also reached the Top 40 in early 1970 with "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me".
Ronald Bertram Aloysius Greaves III, born in British Guiana, South America at the US Air Force Base at Atkinson Field (now Timehri). A nephew of Sam Cooke, he is of African American and Seminole Indian decent and grew up on a Seminole reservation in California. He moved to England in 1963. Greaves had built a career both in the Caribbean and in the UK, where he performed under the name Sonny Childe with his group the TNTs and recorded a few singles between 1965 -1968. (Without Childe/Greaves, The TNT became the backing band for P.P. Arnold, probably best known for her versions of “The First Cut is the Deepest” and “Angel of the Morning.”)Greaves debut recording, his self penned "Take a Letter Maria", was released under the name R.B. Greaves in 1969. Produced by Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun, the song was recorded in August 1969 at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama with backing from the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section. It was an out-of-the-box hit in the U.S. for the Atco label, rising to No. 2 in just six weeks, only to be denied the top spot by The 5th Dimension’s “Wedding Bell Blues.” His self-titled album peaked at No. 85 in 1970.
The song is the story of a man who learns of his wife's infidelity and dictates a letter of separation to Maria, his secretary, who the last verse suggests may become his new love. The song has a distinct Latin flavor, complete with a mariachi-style horn section. It received gold record certification from the RIAA on 11 December 1969. By 1970, sales of this song totaled 2.5 million.
In the early 1970s, Greaves spent a lot of time in Southern California, and was often accompanied at live shows and on recordings by his longtime friends Phillip John Diaz, a guitarist, and Michael “Papabax” Baxter, a songwriter and keyboardist.Greaves recorded a series of cover versions as follow-ups, including Burt Bacharach's and Hal David's "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" (1970) plus "Fire and Rain" (1970), "Whiter Shade of Pale" (1970), "Margie, Who's Watching the Baby" (1972) and "Naked Eyes" (1983). Greaves left the Atlantic /Atco label in the 1970s in favour of Sunflower Records, and then signed to Bareback Records. His only chart release for the latter label in 1977 was "Margie, Who's Watching the Baby", but it didn't revive his career. He ended up moving to Los Angeles and began to work in the technology industry.
Greaves died from prostate cancer at his home in Granada Hills, California, on 27 September 2012 at the age of 68. He is buried in New Haven, Connecticut. He was married three times: 1969- 1970 to Claire Francis, 1971-1973 to Sandra Golden and from 1975 to actress Maura Dhu Studi who he divorced pre 1990. While his career may not have reached the same heights as some of his contemporaries, his music continues to be celebrated by fans of soul music.
(Edited from Wikipedia, Old Time Muisc.com & NBC News)