Friday, 4 January 2013
Arthur Conley born 4 January 1946
Arthur Lee Conley (January 4, 1946 – November 17, 2003) was an American soul singer, best known for the 1967 hit, "Sweet Soul Music".
Conley was born in McIntosh County, Georgia and grew up in Atlanta. Conley was just 12 years old when he joined the Evening Smiles, a gospel group that appeared regularly on local radio station WAOK. By 1963 he was leading his own R&B outfit, Arthur & the Corvets, which over the next two years issued three singles -- "Poor Girl," "I Believe," and "Flossie Mae" -- for the Atlanta label National Recording Company. Despite Conley's graceful yet powerful vocals (which owed an immense debt to his idol, Sam Cooke), the
NRC singles earned little attention, and he dissolved the group to mount a solo career
In 1964, he moved to a new label (Baltimore's Ru-Jac Records) and released "I'm a Lonely Stranger". When Otis Redding heard this, he asked Conley to record a new version, which was released on Redding's own fledgling label Jotis Records, as only its second release. Conley met Redding in 1967, but after this meeting Redding took Conley under his care, and taught him the finer points of the music industry. Together they re-wrote the Sam Cooke song "Yeah Man" into "Sweet Soul Music", which, at Redding's insistence, was released on the Atco-distributed label Fame Records, and was recorded at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It proved to be a massive hit, going to the number two position on the U.S. charts and the Top Ten across much of Europe. "Sweet Soul Music" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
An LP also titled Sweet Soul Music soon followed, compiling the singer's little-heard Jotis and Fame sides. Conley's next single, a reading of the Big Joe Turner chestnut "Shake, Rattle and Roll," returned him to the pop Top 40 and the
R&B Top 20, although its follow-up, a cover of Cooke's "Whole Lotta Woman," reached only number 73 on the pop chart. Conley was performing in Florida the night of December 10, 1967, when Redding and members of his backing band the Bar-Kays were killed in a Wisconsin plane crash; without Redding to run interference with Atco executives, the singer's career threatened to revert back to its rudderless beginnings, but in early 1968 Conley righted the ship, traveling to Memphis' American Recording Studios to collaborate with the crack producer Tom Dowd.
The session generated some of the singer's finest material, including the Top 20 R&B hit "People Sure Act Funny," "Run On," and the stirring Redding tribute "Otis Sleep On." Best of all was the scorching "Funky Street," which hit number five on the Billboard R&B chart and number 14 on its pop counterpart.
Weeks later Conley teamed with Burke, Don Covay, Ben E. King, and Joe Tex as the Soul Clan, recording the all-star LP Soul Meeting; he then embarked on a month-long tour of Europe, returning to American to cut the Dowd-produced "Aunt Dora's Love Soul Shack," a minor hit that was reportedly the inspiration for the Temptations' smash "Psychedelic Shack." Conley closed out the year by recording a cover of the Beatles' "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da." Featuring the great Duane Allman on guitar, the single reached number 51 pop and number 41 R&B in early 1969.
After one final outing with Dowd, the Allen Toussaint-penned "Star Review" -- a naked and failed attempt to recapture the brilliance of "Sweet Soul Music" -- Conley signed on with producer Johnny Sandlin, returning to the R&B Top 40 in early 1970 with "God Bless." His final Atco disc, an ill-advised rendition of Harry Belafonte's perennial "Day-O," foreshadowed the poor choices that characterized his subsequent tenure with manager Phil Walden's Capricorn label.
After several years of singles in the early 1970s, he relocated to England in 1975, and spent several years in Belgium, then settled in Amsterdam, Netherlands in spring 1977. In the beginning of 1980 he had some major performances as Lee Roberts and the Sweaters in the Ganzenhoef, Paradiso, De Melkweg and the Concertgebouw, and was highly successful. At the end of 1980 he moved to the Dutch village of Ruurlo and legally changed his name to Lee Roberts (his middle name and his mother's maiden name). There he occupied himself with promoting new music by means of his Art-Con Productions company. Amongst the bands he promoted was the heavy metal band Shockwave from the Hague. Arthur was also active as a designer of specialized tapestries and furniture.
A live performance on January 8, 1980, featuring Lee Roberts & the Sweaters, was released as an album entitled Soulin' in 1988.
Arthur Conley died after a long battle with intestinal cancer in Ruurlo, Netherlands at the age of 57 in November 2003.
(Info edited from Wikipedia & AMG)
Here's Arthur live in Offenbach, Germany 1967.
1.WHOLE LOTTA WOMEN
2. SWEET SOUL MUSIC