Thursday, 21 March 2013
Solomon Burke born 21 March 1940
Solomon Burke (March 21, 1940 – October 10, 2010) was an American recording artist and vocalist, who shaped the sound of rhythm and blues as one of the founding fathers of soul music in the 1960s. During the half-century that he has performed, he has drawn from his roots: gospel, soul, and blues, as well as developing his own style in a time when R&B, and rock were still in their infancy. Burke is revered by some of the most respected big acts as a pioneer and member of the prestigious Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was also known as "The King of Rock 'N Soul" and "Big Sol".
Solomon Burke was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 21, 1940. He began his adult life as a preacher in Philadelphia, and soon moved on to hosting a gospel radio show. Burke was also an undertaker and had a mortuary business in Los Angeles. He was trained as a mortician early in his life and had worked in his uncle's funeral parlor.
While Solomon Burke never made a major impact upon the pop audience — he never, in fact, had a Top 20 hit — he was an important early soul pioneer. He began recording gospel and R&B sides for Apollo in the mid- to late '50s. Like several former gospel singers (Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett), he was molded into a more secular direction when he signed with Atlantic in the 1960s. Burke had a wealth of high-charting R&B hits in the early half of the '60s, which crossed over to the pop listings in a mild fashion as well. "Just Out of Reach," "Cry to Me," "If You Need Me," "Got to Get You Off My Mind," "Tonight's the Night," and "Goodbye Baby (Baby Goodbye)" were the most successful of these, although, unlike Franklin or Pickett, he wasn't able to expand his R&B base into a huge pop following as well. "Cry to Me", was used in the dance and seduction scene in the film Dirty Dancing.
In 1964 he wrote and recorded "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love", Burke's most prominent bid for an enduring soul standard. Almost immediately covered by The Rolling Stones the same year, other well-known versions include one by Wilson Pickett and another, a decade and a half later, in the 1980 film by The Blues Brothers.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Burke became one of the most visible living exponents of classic soul music, continuing to tour and record albums in a rootsy, at times gospel-ish style. Although these were critically well received, their stylistic purity also ensured that their market was primarily confined to roots music enthusiasts rather than a pop audience. His live and later recorded work, however, is a favorite of those who want to experience a soul legend with his talents and stylistic purity relatively intact. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Burke has enjoyed a special relationship with the Catholic Church throughout his life and in 2000, he and his family were invited to perform at the Jubilee of the Family at the Vatican. Since then, he had been invited back to the Vatican by both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI for Vatican's Christmas celebration.
Burke's 2002 release Don't Give Up on Me was hailed as a major comeback for the legendary soul man. Great songwriters like Elvis Costello, Dan Penn, Nick Lowe, and Tom Waits contributed songs and Joe Henry produced the album, which has been compared to Johnny Cash's landmark American Recordings. After the critical success of Don't Give Up on Me reaffirmed Burke's status as one of the greatest living exponents of classic soul, the singer teamed up with producer Don Was for Make Do with What You Got, a updated variation on his classic style that was released in spring 2005. A year later, Burke released an interesting country and soul hybrid, Nashville, on Shout! Factory. A second album from the label, Like a Fire, followed in 2008.
In 2009, Burke joined Willie Mitchell at Mitchell's Royal Studio in Memphis to work together on a new recording. It was the first time Burke and Mitchell have worked together in their careers. Burke also put on his record label hat - his label, The One Entertainment Systems has signed Clarence Fountain and Sam Butler and their most recent project: Stepping Up And Stepping Out. It is Clarence Fountain's first project since stepping away from The Blind Boys of Alabama.
For many years Burke struggled with his health, with his "weight estimated somewhere between 300 and 400 pounds" in 2006. New York Times writer Ben Sisario wrote of Burke: "Wide-shaped in his youth, he grew into Henry VIII-like corpulence, and in his later years had to be wheeled to his throne." In the later years of his life, "arthritis and weight ... limited his mobility", and confined him to a wheelchair.
On Sunday October 10, 2010, Burke died at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport while on a plane from Los Angeles that had just landed. He had been due to perform with De Dijk in Amsterdam on October 12. The cause of death was not immediately clear; according to his family, Burke died of natural causes.
During the 55 years that he performed professionally, Burke released 38 studio albums on at least 17 record labels and had 35 singles that charted in the US, including 26 singles that made the Billboard R&B charts. His album Don't Give Up on Me won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 45th Grammy Awards in 2003. By 2005 Burke was credited with selling 17 million albums. Rolling Stone ranked Burke as #89 on its 2008 list of "100 Greatest Singers of All Time."
(info edited from All Music & Wikipedia)