by Nick Ubels (Online Editor)
Early Sunday morning, the man responsible for such R & B classics as “Down in the Valley”, “Cry to Me” and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” passed away of natural causes at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport. The 70-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member was set to perform at Paradiso on Tuesday.
“There will never be another Solomon Burke,” said Sam Moore of the legendary Stax duo Sam & Dave to Rolling Stone this May, “When I first saw him, I couldn’t believe that one man could have a voice that big. He could rock a house. He was that good.”
“Big Soul”, as Burke came to be known, had strong roots in gospel music, beginning his career as a preacher in Philadelphia before signing to Atlantic records in the early 60’s. While he never achieved the same mainstream success as contemporaries Sam Cooke and James Brown, Solomon Burke was an instrumental figure in the development of early popular soul music. His powerful, unpolished vocals and incorporation of blues and country inflections into the genre distinguished his prolific recordings. Burke’s songs would eventually be covered by The Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding among others.
Underappreciated in his hey-day, Burke experienced something of a popular revival in recent years, starting with the release of Don’t Give Up On Me on which he sang songs written specifically for the album by the likes of Tom Waits, Bob Dylan and Elvis Costello. The album scored Burke a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album.
“As long as I have breath to do it,” said Burke in his most recent interview with The Telegraph, “I’ll sing, with God’s help.”
Solomon Burke leaves behind 21 children and 90 grandchildren.