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Monday, October 11, 2010

R.I.P. Solomon Burke, 'King of Rock 'n' Soul'

Posted By on Mon, Oct 11, 2010 at 12:51 AM

click to enlarge Solomon Burke in the '60s - NIGEL SKEET
  • Nigel Skeet
  • Solomon Burke in the '60s
Pour one out for one of the all-time greats of soul music, self-proclaimed King of Rock 'n' Soul Solomon Burke, who died yesterday in the Netherlands, according to CNN and others.

Burke, 70, died of natural causes early Sunday morning on a plane at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, according to the AP. He was to perform a sold-out show there in a converted church.


A huge man with a huge, powerful voice, Burke helped refine the mix of gospel, country, and pop that became 1960s soul. His singing and songwriting talents earn him a spot in the genre's pantheon next to legends like Otis Redding and James Brown, but Burke never had a Top 20 hit.

The onetime preacher, licensed mortician, and Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Famer only won his first Grammy in 2002, with the comeback album "Don't Give Up On Me," which was released by the blues/indie-rock label Fat Possum.

click to enlarge Burke in Los Angeles in 2008 - TODD MELET
  • Todd Melet
  • Burke in Los Angeles in 2008
One of Burke's best songs, "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love," was covered by the Rolling Stones and by actors Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi in the 1980 film The Blues Brothers. He also wrote and sang the hit "Cry To Me," which ran up the charts again in 1987, 25 years after its original release, after it was used in the 1987 Patrick Swayze film Dirty Dancing.


Burke's "Got to Get You off My Mind" played a key role in Nick Hornby's classic (for music nerds, anyway) novel High Fidelity, sparking the relationship between the main character, Rob, and his girlfriend Laura. (The song wasn't mentioned in the film adaptation, although Burke was referred to in several places.)


Never remunerated or widely known the way some of his peers in '60s soul were, Burke continued to perform live until the end of his life. In later years, he belted his room-shaking songs while seated in a giant red throne onstage.

click to enlarge TODD MELET
  • Todd Melet
We'd love to hear any memories you have of the man and his music in the comments section.

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Ian S. Port

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