stretched back to hitmaking days in the ‘60s, but recent years saw a
considerable Burke revival as well.
By Fred Mills
Soul giant Solomon Burke has died at the age of 70.
Yesterday (Oct.10) he was at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport en route to a Dutch concert with
the band De Dijk when he abruptly died of what his family is describing as
According to Burke’s official website, “He was on his way to
spread his message of love as he loved to do. This is a time of great
sorrow for our entire family. We truly appreciate all of the support and
well wishes from his friends and fans.”
Burke, born James Solomon McDonald, a 2001 inductee into the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, had been a mainstay of the soul scene throughout
the ‘60s and into the ‘70s, with hits like “Got to Get You Off My Mind,”
“Tonight’s the Night,” “Cry to Me” and “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love”
entering the pop and soul lexicon to frequently get covered by other artists.
According to the Los
Angeles Times, the thrice-married Burke’s family included “14 daughters, 7
songs, 90 grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren. At his home in Los Angeles, Burke
greeted visitors from a red velvet throne in his living room, where he kept his
Grammy and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame awards on a nearby mantel.” He was also
known to perform with that throne onstage.
While his career slowed down starting in the ‘80s he
continued to tour intermittently and record, and during the past decade he was
rediscovered by an entire new generation of music lovers through his
association with the Fat Possum,
Anti-, Shout! Factory and E1 labels. Among his key recordings during that time
were the Joe Henry-produced Don’t Give Up
On Me (considered one of the great comeback albums of the modern era) and a
country album, Nashville, produced by Buddy Miller and
featuring guests such as Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton and Gillian Welch. He
also became a frequent presence at summer festivals, notably Bonnaroo and Glastonbury in 2008.
[Photo Credit: Tom Beetz c/o Wikimedia Commons]