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SPN: RIP Solomon Burke, Atlantic Records, RRHOF, Leela James, Toni Green
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RIP Solomon Burke

This is the email I got this morning from our friends at the Bo Diddley The Originator website:

"We were deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing today (Sunday) of Solomon Burke, the Legendary King of Rock & Soul. He was 70. The former preacher turned singer died this morning at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport. He had been due to perform in the city on Tuesday. With classic hits including "Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms)", "If You Need Me", "Got To Get You Off My Mind" and "Tonight's The Night", Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler once called him "the best soul singer of all-time". Our thoughts and prayers are with Solomon's dear family and friends at this very sad time..."

Also posted at:

Welcome To The Soul-Patrol Newsletter

Of course I too was sad when I got this email...
Solomon Burke was one of the giants of Black music, he is an artist who should be thought of in the same breath as names like James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Little Richard, and others. He was a larger than life figure in the music, both literally & figuratively. It's a shame that he will probably be best remembered by the masses as an artist whose music was shamelessly parodied in the movie/minstral show "The Blues Brothers." ("Everybody Needs Somebody")

However I feel fortunate that I had the chance to meet him briefly twice, both times in conjunction with the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Inductions. I got to see him perform as well on those two occasions and he was indeed "KING SOLOMON."

The first time was when he was inducted and the second time was a few years later when he and Leela James did an awesome duet together at the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame Inductions.

Solomon Burke & Leela James

Over the past few year Solomon Burke, (along with many other artists from the past) has released several albums of pretty good new material. I am proud to say that we have always featured material from these new releases from Solomon Burke on the Nu Soul and Blues Channels on In fact one of the main reasons why the Nu Soul @ RadioIO channel was created was to give new material from artists like Solomon Burke a place to be heard, right alongside of new material from younger artists (not unlike the duet that I saw between Solomon Burke & Leela James.) It has proven to be a successful and much needed formula, especially in an environment where knee-gro radio stations across the country would just as soon presume that artists like Solomon Burke are already dead, long before they have actually passed away. In fact I just added two new songs from Solomon Burke's latest release "NOTHINGS IMPOSSIBLE" to the playlist on the Nu Soul @ RadioIO channel a few weeks ago.

Solomon Burke & Soul Patrol's Toni Green (Courtsey of Enorman)

So in the end, Solomon Burke was an artist who was systematicly mocked by white people and ignored by Black people.

Isn't that a terrible statement to make about our culture?

Isn't it even worse that the statement is true?

Stay tuned, I'm certain we will have much more on about have more to come on Solomon Burke....


--Bob Davis
Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director

BIO: Solomon Burke

BIO: Solomon BurkeThe following bio comes from Solomon Burke Official Website:
I am proud to say that it was written by our friend Bill Carpenter...

At a time when rock and roll was in its infancy and R&B was just starting to get its groove on, Solomon Burke burst onto the scene, shattered the cultural barriers of the time, scored a massive hit with "Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)" and quickly redefined the way the world would think about music. Conquering hearts, moving hips and electrifying fans in ways no one thought possible, the Philadelphia born legend's soul-stirring smashes and charismatic presence captured the imagination of young people like no one else of his era. Dubbed by legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler as "the best soul singer of all time," Burke, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer since 2001, is more than simply a pioneering American legend from another time and place--he is an innovator whose timeless music spans generations and has inspired millions of fans and hundreds of recording artists across the decades.

As the world gears up for Burke's 70th birthday in March, 2010, the millions of fans that to this day clamor for his live appearances and the brilliant showmanship should know where this explosive fusion of grace and music began: in an upper room at the United Praying Band The House of God for All People in West Philly, where he was born March 21, 1940 to the sounds of horns and bass drums from the sanctuary. Many artists claim to have their roots in the church, but few go back this far and run this deep. From day one, literally God and gospel were the driving forces behind the man and his music.

"The only thing I don't know is what key I was crying in when I came into this world," says Burke, who complements his diverse musical endeavors with his role as preacher and spiritual leader of the global church, House of God For All People. "But there I was, born in grace, and it was always easy for me to understand the goodness of God. I strived never to be too overwhelmed or overbearing with it and do what the Lord said to do."

While teaching him to clearly enunciate the words to such songs as Gene Autry's "Back In The Saddle Again," Burke's grandmother Eleanor Moore was a powerful spiritual medium who kept him in a futurist world as a child with her spiritual vision and projections of what his life would become. So perhaps it was all fore-ordained-the 17 million record sales; a soul standard ("Everybody Needs Somebody To Love") that was covered by everyone from The Rolling Stones to Wilson Pickett and The Blues Brothers; a career resurrecting 2002 Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album (Don't Give Up On Me) that introduced his genius to a whole new generation; one of his best known hits "Cry To Me" being used in the dance and seduction scene in "Dirty Dancing"; a performance for one of his biggest fans, Pope John Paul II, at the Vatican in 2000, and subsequent invitations to the Vatican's Christmas celebration by John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI; and the achievement the singer calls his greatest, his astounding family of 21 children (14 daughters, 7 sons), 90 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.

Very soon after the demise of his grandmother, Burke found himself recording at age 14 for the independent Apollo label, where he turned his first song ever, "Christmas Presents From Heaven," into a million selling gospel hit. Sensing a powerhouse sensation in the making, R&B tastemakers Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegun, with the help of Burke's manager Babe Shivan, brought him to Atlantic in 1960, where Burke would spend the next decade defining and redefining the essence of American soul music where gospel merged with pop and secular R&B. The singer broke through in 1961 with a cover of the country standard "Just Out Of Reach Of My Two Empty Arms" that was a quick smash on the R&B and pop charts; many credit Burke's unique blend of R&B and country as opening the door for Ray Charles subsequent emergence.

BIO: Solomon BurkeOver the next seven years, Burke released 32 singles on Atlantic, many of which cracked both the R&B and pop charts, including six Top Ten R&B hits, four of which crossed over to the Top 40 -- "Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)," "Cry To Me," "Got To Get You Off Of My Mind," "You're Good For Me," (penned by Don Covay), "Tonight's The Night" and "If You Need Me" (written by Wilson Pickett). Burke has also been credited with helping keep Atlantic Records solvent from 1961 to 1964 with his steady stream of hits.

Burke has long been championed by peers, music critics and celebrity fans from across the generations. The late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun called him "a great soul singer - probably the greatest." Tom Waits says he's "one of the architects of American Music." Mick Jagger openly admitted trying to imitate the phrasing of Burke's truly inimitable voice; "Cry To Me" was another Burke song covered by the Stones on Out of Our Heads. Everybody from contemporaries like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett to Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty have performed Burke's songs in concert.

The list of celeb fans, friends and admiring colleagues is endless: Travis Barker, Johnny Depp, Jerry Lee Lewis, Norah Jones, Anthony Hamilton, Ben Harper, Kid Rock, Dolly Parton, Elvis Costello, John Mayer, Buddy Miller, Dr. John, B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Chubby Checker, Fats Domino and Little Richard. Others include those singer/songwriters whose previously unrecorded songs Burke graced on Don't Give Up On Me: Waits, Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Van Morrison and Elvis Costello. Burke's 2006 release Nashville featured duets with Parton and Emmylou Harris. 2007's Make Do With What You Got included songs by Dr. John, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, to name a few, while Like A Fire (2008) had Burke's brilliant interpretations of songs by Harper, Keb' Mo', Eric Clapton and Jesse Harris.

The singer says of his songwriting influences: "Gospel was part of my total career, not just something I started with, but something I live with, as my foundation and rock. I grew up a normal black kid in the ghetto, exposed to all kinds of music that influenced me as a songwriter and recording artist. I loved country, big band, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Perry Como, Doris Day, Gene Autry, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, Roy Rogers-all of whom in some way inspired me to reach my goal of doing something extraordinary with my life that would connect with people. Every song I write has a different meaning, and each one is special because it depends on the situation of the moment in time when I wrote it. I am always flattered by the way other artists interpret my songs, but in the end it doesn't matter how they do it. It's more important that the message of the song reaches people. A simple example is 'Everybody Needs Somebody To Love' which is true for everyone. We all need somebody! If the message is meaningful in the beginning, it will reach across the waters and come back across time. If only one person is reached and touched by our songs, then the message through me is being heard, received and believed."

Burke eventually left Atlantic and his great 60s soul heyday behind, but continued recording vigorously throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, amassing a total of 22 soul and gospel albums during these years while taking time to raise his large brood. His recordings during this period include Electrophonic Magnetism, King Heavy, I Have a Dream, Back to My Roots, Music To Make Love By, Lord We Need A Miracle, Take Me, Shake Me, Soul Alive!, Soul Of The Blues, Live At The House of Blues and Definition Of Soul. In the 70s, he also worked behind the scenes for MGM, producing records and scoring films and TV. In 1987, the year "Cry To Me" was featured in Dirty Dancing, he appeared in the hit movie "The Big Easy" as "Daddy Mention." Since his 2001 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and first Grammy win a year later introduced him to a whole new generation, Burke has enjoyed an exciting new phase of his career which has included various collaborative recordings, late night talk show appearances, studio collaborations and, all in 2004, performances with the hipster likes of Junkie XL and Italian rock blues icon Zucchero (including a show at the Royal Albert Hall) and an appearance in the blues documentary "Lightning In A Bottle."

In 2006, Burke was among the rock, soul and country legends who sang with Jerry Lee Lewis at the live "Last Man Standing" concert at Sony Music Studio in New York. He also honored Ahmet Ertegun by co-hosting the March 2007 celebration of the Atlantic founder's life at Lincoln Center, participating in the American Master's documentary "Atlantic Records: The House That Ahmet Built" and in December of that year, performing at the private after-party of the Led Zeppelin reunion concert along with Ben E. King, Percy Sledge and Sam Moore.

Earlier in 2009, Burke joined famed R&B producer Willie Mitchell at Mitchell's Royal Studio in Memphis to work together on a new recording, marking the first time the two have worked together in their careers. Burke's record label, The One Entertainment Systems, recently released Stepping Up & Stepping Out by former Blind Boys of Alabama members Clarence Fountain and Sam Butler; Burke served as its executive producer.

Burke is busier on the road than ever these days, amassing over 130,000 frequent flier miles this past year performing in the U.S., across Europe and "driving down muddy and snowy roads in countries we can't even mention." In addition to his 2008 summer European tour, which included concerts in Portugal, England, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Austria, France, Switzerland, Norway, Slovakia and Sweden.

"The thing I most enjoy is the people, the audience, just the thrill of being out there making personal contact and having the deeply spiritual experience of sharing music with so many grateful fans," says Burke. "The band truly feeds off the vibrations of the people, and we use no set list, playing whatever comes to people's minds or songs that people have emailed us and requested we play. Every show is a request show, and each audience in each city has different personal favorites. It's like turning back the hands of time instantly. We can be in the middle of singing something from my recent Like A Fire album, and they'll call out 'Stupidity' from 1957 and we're back 50 years!

"What's fun is that the audiences in both Europe and America range in age from five years old to my age and older, and the kids know these songs," he adds. "They think I'm a big black Santa Claus, and I love them and always make sure to play what they want to hear. Still, no matter how much joy I'm having and sharing on the road, the best part of traveling is always coming home. You don't realize the value of what you've done in your life until you leave castles with cooks and waiters and stages where you're playing before thousands of people. You come home and your grandchild says, 'Can you make me a hamburger?' and suddenly everything seems so real."

--Bill Carpenter

Solomon Burke Official Website:

--Bob Davis

Blues, Hip Hop and Soul Music Director


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