Soul Tracks - Tracking the World's Greatest Soul Music

R.I.P. Clarence Burke of The Five Stairsteps, The Invisible Man's Band

     

(May 26, 2013) Clarence Burke, Jr., a founding member of the legendary family group The Five Stairsteps and later the creator (with his brothers) of the disco-fund group The Invisible Man's Band, has reportedly died at age 62. Causes of Burke's death have not been released.  

Burke hit the mountaintop with both groups, hitting number one in 1970 with "O-o-h Child" as part of the Stairsteps, and later topping the dance charts with the infectious "All Night Thing" with the Invisible Man's Band (a song that Burke wrote and produced). While The Invisible Man's Band failed to maintain its momentum into the 80s, Burke remained active and continued writing and performing for the rest of his life in various projects. Clarence Burke was a tremendous talent from a tremendously talented family. May he rest in peace.

By Chris Rizik

 
Burke's Facebook Page includes the following biography:
 
You can tell a lot about people by the company they keep....
 
In the case of Clarence Burke, such company has included Curtis Mayfield, George Harrison, Billy Preston, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Quincy Jones and many others. Aside from their status as music legends, these artists share a first-hand knowledge of the immense musical talents of Clarence Burke - vocalist, songwriter, musician and producer. 
 
Clarence Burke rose to prominence in the mid-1960s as a member of THE FIVE STAIRSTEPS, (later STAIRSTEPS), best know for their Top-Ten single “O-O-H Child”. Released in April 1970, the song has since been an anthem from the ‘70s to the present, appearing in 13 movie soundtracks, TV and radio commercials and serving as a sonic reference for 4 decades. In November 2004, ROLLING STONE magazine included “O-O-H CHILD” on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. A founding member of THE FIVE STAIRSTEPS, Clarence was also its creative force, principle vocalist, choreographer, guitarist and songwriter. The group’s early R&B hits, including “You’ve Waited Too Long”, “World of Fantasy” and “Danger!, She’s A Stranger”, were released on Curtis Mayfield’s Windy C and Curtom labels. 
 
In 1970, (as Stairsteps), the group released the Top 10 hit, “O-O-H Child” and in 1976, their ground-breaking 2ND RESURRECTION LP was on George Harrison’s Dark Horse label. Clarence was also the brain-child behind the INVISIBLE MAN’S BAND, whose 1980 single “All Night Thing” is a dance classic.
 
Throughout his career, Clarence Burke has earned commercial and critical acclaim, while displaying qualities of an artistic chameleon - uniquely capable of timely re-invention. Not one to simply accept his past successes, his occasional periods of creative hibernation and re-emergence have produced extraordinary results. The demand for the return of the STAIRSTEPS has been expressed widely throughout themusic industry, via various media outlets. 
 
 
Here is a performance by Clarence from late 2011 as well as the classic "O-o-h Child" from 1970. Also the audio from "All Night Thing":
 
 
 
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