He had one of the most recognizable soul music voices of all time
Percy Sledge was born 80 years ago today
Percy Sledge was born on November 25, 1940, in Leighton, Alabama. He rose to prominence during the 1960’s with “When a Man Loves a Woman”, which was Sledge’s first song recorded under the contract released in March 1966. 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. 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”.The soul anthem became the cornerstone of Sledge’s career, and was followed by “Warm and Tender Love” It Tears Me Up”, “Take Time to Know Her” (his second biggest US hit, reaching No. 11; “Love Me Tender”, and “Cover Me”. Sledge charted with “I’ll Be Your Everything” and “Sunshine” during the 1970’s, 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.Sledge’s career enjoyed a renaissance in the 1980’s 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. 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.Percy Sledge died of liver cancer at his home in Baton Rouge on April 14, 2015, at the age of 74.
Watch Percy Sledge performing his biggest hit “When A Man Loves A Woman” in 1966
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