Percy Sledge

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Percy Sledge
Percy Sledge at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Concert.jpg
Sledge at the 2010 Alabama Music Hall of Fame Concert
Background information
Birth namePercy Tyrone Sledge
Born(1941-11-25)November 25, 1941
Leighton, Alabama, U.S.
DiedApril 14, 2015(2015-04-14) (aged 73)
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.
Genres R&B, soul, traditional pop
Instruments Vocals
Years active1960–2014
Labels Atlantic, Capricorn, Monument, Point Blank, Diablo, Sledgehammer, Virgin

Percy Tyrone Sledge (November 25, 1941 – April 14, 2015) was an American R&B, soul and gospel singer. He is best known for the song "When a Man Loves a Woman", a No. 1 hit on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles charts in 1966. It was awarded a million-selling, Gold-certified disc from the RIAA.

Soul music is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.

When a Man Loves a Woman (song) 1966 single by Bette Midler, Percy Sledge, Michael Bolton

"When a Man Loves a Woman" is a song written by Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright and first recorded by Percy Sledge in 1966 at Norala Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama. It made number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles charts. Singer and actress Bette Midler recorded the song 14 years later and had a Top 40 hit with her version in 1980. In 1991, Michael Bolton recorded the song and his version peaked at number one on both the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the Billboard Adult Contemporary Singles chart.

Contents

Having previously worked as a hospital orderly in the early 1960s, Sledge achieved his strongest success in the late 1960s and early 1970s with a series of emotional soul songs. In later years, Sledge received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Career Achievement Award. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

The Rhythm and Blues Foundation is an independent American nonprofit organization dedicated to the historical and cultural preservation of rhythm and blues music.

Biography

Early career

Sledge was born on November 25, 1941, in Leighton, Alabama. [1] [2] He worked in a series of agricultural jobs in the fields in Leighton, before taking a job as an orderly at Colbert County Hospital in Sheffield, Alabama. Through the mid-1960s, he toured the Southeast with the Esquires Combo on weekends, [3] while working at the hospital during the week. A former patient and mutual friend of Sledge and record producer Quin Ivy introduced the two. An audition followed, and Sledge was signed to a recording contract. [4]

Leighton, Alabama Town in Alabama, United States

Leighton is a town in Colbert County, Alabama, United States. It is part of the Florence - Muscle Shoals Metropolitan Statistical Area known as "The Shoals". At the 2010 census the population was 729. Leighton has been hit by several tornadoes in the 2000s, including a damaging EF2 on May 8, 2008, that was caught on tape flipping over many cars and damaging buildings.

Colbert County, Alabama County in the United States

Colbert County is a county of the U.S. state of Alabama. As of the 2010 census the county's population was 54,428. The county seat is Tuscumbia. Its name is in honor of brothers George and Levi Colbert, Chickasaw Indian chiefs.

Sheffield, Alabama City in Alabama, United States

Sheffield is a city in Colbert County, Alabama, United States, and is included in the Shoals metropolitan area. As of the 2010 census, the population of the city was 9,039. Sheffield is the birthplace of "country-soul pioneer" and songwriter Arthur Alexander, French horn player Willie Ruff, notable attorney, actor, former senator and presidential contender Fred Thompson, Watergate committee U.S. Senator Howell Heflin and U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell, whose father was working in nearby Athens when he was born. It sometimes is referred to as "the City of Senators" due to the births of Heflin, McConnell and Thompson within its borders. Col. Harland Sanders worked in the Sheffield depot for Southern Railway in the 1900s. It is also home to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where many popular 20th century musicians recorded their work, including Alexander and Ruff. It is the site of historic Helen Keller Hospital, formerly known as Colbert County Hospital and originally constructed in 1921. It was changed to Helen Keller Hospital in 1979, and Keller's birthplace Ivy Green is located less than one mile southwest of the hospital in adjacent Tuscumbia.

Sledge performing on tour in 1974 Percy Sledge 1974 touring.jpg
Sledge performing on tour in 1974

Sledge's soulful voice was perfect for the series of soul ballads produced by Ivy and Marlin Greene, which rock critic Dave Marsh called "emotional classics for romantics of all ages". "When a Man Loves a Woman" was Sledge's first song recorded under the contract, and was released in March 1966. [3] According to Sledge, the inspiration for the song came when his girlfriend left him for a modelling career after he was laid off from a construction job in late 1965, [5] and, because bassist Calvin Lewis and organist Andrew Wright helped him with the song, he gave all the songwriting credits to them. [6] It reached No. 1 in the US and went on to become an international hit. When a Man Loves a Woman" was a hit twice in the UK, reaching No. 4 in 1966 and, on reissue, peaked at No. 2 in 1987. The song was also the first gold record released by Atlantic Records. [7] The soul anthem became the cornerstone of Sledge's career, and was followed by "Warm and Tender Love" (covered by British singer Elkie Brooks in 1981), "It Tears Me Up", "Take Time to Know Her" (his second biggest US hit, reaching No. 11; the song's lyric was written by Steve Davis), "Love Me Tender", and "Cover Me". [3] [6]

Dave Marsh is an American music critic, author, editor and radio talk show host. He was an early editor of Creem magazine, has written for various publications such as Newsday, The Village Voice, and Rolling Stone, and has published numerous books about music and musicians, mostly focused on rock music. He is also a committee member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Atlantic Records American record label

Atlantic Recording Corporation is an American record label founded in October 1947 by Ahmet Ertegün and Herb Abramson. Over its first 20 years of operation, Atlantic earned a reputation as one of the most important American labels, specializing in jazz, R&B, and soul by Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Wilson Pickett, Sam and Dave, Ruth Brown and Otis Redding. Its position was greatly improved by its distribution deal with Stax. In 1967, Atlantic became a wholly owned subsidiary of Warner Bros.-Seven Arts, now the Warner Music Group, and expanded into rock and pop music with releases by Led Zeppelin and Yes.

Elkie Brooks English singer

Elkie Brooks is an English singer, a vocalist with the bands Dada and Vinegar Joe, and later a solo artist. She gained her biggest success in the late 1970s and 1980s and has been nominated twice for Brit Awards. She is known for her powerful husky bluesy voice and her 13 Top 75 singles such as "Pearl's a Singer", "Lilac Wine", "Don't Cry Out Loud", "Fool ", and "No More the Fool". Between her first chart album in 1977 and 1997 Brooks became the UK Female Artist with the Most Top 75 Chart Albums.

Sledge charted with "I'll Be Your Everything" and "Sunshine" during the 1970s, and became an international concert favorite throughout the world, especially in the Netherlands, Germany, and on the African continent; he averaged 100 concerts a year in South Africa. [8] [9]

Netherlands Constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Europe

The Netherlands, also commonly known as Holland, is a country located mainly in Northwestern Europe. The European portion of the Netherlands consists of twelve separate provinces that border Germany to the east, Belgium to the south, and the North Sea to the northwest, with maritime borders in the North Sea with Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom. Together with three island territories in the Caribbean Sea—Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba—it forms a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The official language is Dutch, but a secondary official language in the province of Friesland is West Frisian.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.

Africa The second largest and second most-populous continent, mostly in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent, being behind Asia in both categories. At about 30.3 million km2 including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of Earth's total surface area and 20% of its land area. With 1.2 billion people as of 2016, it accounts for about 16% of the world's human population. The continent is surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, the Isthmus of Suez and the Red Sea to the northeast, the Indian Ocean to the southeast and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. The continent includes Madagascar and various archipelagos. It contains 54 fully recognised sovereign states (countries), nine territories and two de facto independent states with limited or no recognition. The majority of the continent and its countries are in the Northern Hemisphere, with a substantial portion and number of countries in the Southern Hemisphere.

Later career

Sledge's career enjoyed a renaissance in the 1980s when "When a Man Loves a Woman" re-entered the UK Singles Chart, peaking at No. 2 behind the reissued Ben E. King classic "Stand by Me", after being used in a Levi's commercial. [3] In the early 1990s, Michael Bolton brought "When a Man Loves a Woman" back into the limelight again on his hit album Time, Love, & Tenderness . On the week of November 17 to November 23, 1991, Bolton's version also hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, exactly 25½ years to the week after Percy's did in 1966.

UK Singles Chart British singles sales chart

The UK Singles Chart is compiled by the Official Charts Company (OCC), on behalf of the British record industry, listing the top-selling singles in the United Kingdom, based upon physical sales, paid-for downloads and streaming. The Official Chart, broadcast on BBC Radio 1 and MTV, is the UK music industry's recognised official measure of singles and albums popularity because it is the most comprehensive research panel of its kind, today surveying over 15,000 retailers and digital services daily, capturing 99.9% of all singles consumed in Britain across the week, and over 98% of albums. To be eligible for the chart, a single is currently defined by the Official Charts Company (OCC) as either a 'single bundle' having no more than four tracks and not lasting longer than 25 minutes or one digital audio track not longer than 15 minutes with a minimum sale price of 40 pence. The rules have changed many times as technology has developed, the most notable being the inclusion of digital downloads in 2005 and streaming in July 2014.

Ben E. King American musician

Benjamin Earl King was an American soul and R&B singer and record producer. He was perhaps best known as the singer and co-composer of "Stand by Me"—a US Top 10 hit, both in 1961 and later in 1986, a number one hit in the UK in 1987, and no. 25 on the RIAA's list of Songs of the Century—and as one of the principal lead singers of the R&B vocal group the Drifters notably singing the lead vocals of one of their biggest global hit singles "Save the Last Dance for Me".

Stand by Me (Ben E. King song) 1961 single by Ben E. King

"Stand by Me" is a song originally performed by American singer-songwriter Ben E. King and written by King, Jerry Leiber, and Mike Stoller. According to King, the title is derived from, and was inspired by, a spiritual written by Sam Cooke and J. W. Alexander called "Stand by Me Father," recorded by the Soul Stirrers with Johnnie Taylor singing lead. The third line of the second verse of the former work derives from Psalm 46:2c/3c.

In 1994, Saul Davis and Barry Goldberg produced Sledge's album, Blue Night, for Philippe Le Bras' Sky Ranch label and Virgin Records. It featured Bobby Womack, Steve Cropper, and Mick Taylor among others. [3] Blue Night received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album, Vocal or Instrumental, and in 1996 it won the W.C. Handy Award for best soul or blues album.

In 2004, Davis and Goldberg also produced the Shining Through the Rain album, which preceded his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Songs on the CD were written by Mikael Rickfors, Steve Earle, the Bee Gees, Carla Olson, Denny Freeman, Allan Clarke and Jackie Lomax. [10] The same year Percy recorded a live album with his band Sunset Drive entitled Percy Sledge and Sunset Drive – Live in Virginia on WRM Records produced by Warren Rodgers.

In May 2007, Percy was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame in his home city of Baton Rouge, LA.

In December 2010, Rhino Handmade issued a four-CD retrospective, The Atlantic Recordings, which covers all of the issued Atlantic masters, as well as many of the tracks unissued in the United States (although some were simply the mono versions of songs originally issued in stereo; Disc 1 comprises Sledge's first two LPs which were not recorded on stereo equipment). In 2011 Sledge toured with Sir Cliff Richard during his Soulicious tour, performing "I'm Your Puppet". [11]

Personal life

Sledge married twice and was survived by his second wife, Rosa Sledge, whom he married in 1980. [12] He had 12 children, three of whom became singers. [13]

Death

Sledge died of liver cancer at his home in Baton Rouge on April 14, 2015, at the age of 73. [14] [15] His interment was in Baton Rouge's Heavenly Gates Cemetery. [16]

Accolades

Sledge was:

Selected discography

Albums

Release
date
TitleLabel
1966When a Man Loves a Woman Atlantic 8125
1966Warm & Tender SoulAtlantic 8132
1967The Percy Sledge WayAtlantic 8146
1968 Take Time to Know Her Atlantic 8180
1968The Best of Percy SledgeAtlantic 8210
1970Percy Sledge In South Africa Atlantic ATC 9257
1974I'll Be Your Everything Capricorn CP 0147
1994Blue NightSky Ranch Records/Virgin
2004Shining Through the Rain Varèse Sarabande
2013The Gospel of Percy SledgeElevate

Singles

Release dateTitleChart positions
US Hot 100 US R&B Canada UK Singles Chart [20]
1966"When a Man Loves a Woman"1114
"Warm and Tender Love"1751034
"It Tears Me Up"20712
1967"Baby, Help Me"8744
"Out of Left Field"5925
"Love Me Tender" (A-Side)403535
→ "What Am I Living For" (B-Side)91
"Just Out of Reach (of My Two Empty Arms)"66
"Cover Me"4239
1968"Take Time to Know Her"1165
"Sudden Stop"6341
"You're All Around Me"109
1969"My Special Prayer"9344
"Any Day Now" (A-Side)8635
→ "The Angels Listened In" (B-Side)126
"Kind Woman"116
"True Love Travels on a Gravel Road"
1970"Many Rivers to Cross"
1970"Help Me Make It Through the Night"
1971"Stop the World Tonight"
1972"Rainbow Road"
"Sunday Brother"
1973"Sunshine"89
1974"I'll Be Your Everything"6215
1987"When a Man Loves a Woman" (Re-issue)2

[3]

1994 "I Wish It Would Rain" (Sky Ranch / Virgin, Sweden) duet with Mikael Rickfors produced by Saul Davis & Barry Goldberg

1994 "You Got Away with Love" (Pat Robinson & Rocky Burnette) / "Why Did You Stop?" (Carla Olson) (Sky Ranch / Virgin, France) produced by Saul Davis & Barry Goldberg

Compilation albums

Release dateTitleChart positions
UK Albums Chart [20]
February 1987When a Man Loves a Woman (The Ultimate Collection)36

[3]

Sledge is sometimes cited as the inspiration behind the Australian language term "to sledge", meaning "to put someone off their game", first used in Test cricket, though the phrase more probably derives from "subtle as a sledgehammer". [21]

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