Though he is known around the world particularly for one seminal soul love song, Eddie Holman has over a half century of recording history behind him - and a voice that still soars forty years after his biggest hit.
Born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1946, Holman began singing at the age of two. But it was his family's move to New York in 1954 that began his more formal musical training, learning to play multiple instruments and enrolling in Harlem's Victoria School of Music. As a teen, Holman was playing amateur shows all around New York and performing at both Carnegie Hall and the famed Apollo Theater.
As a teen, Holman moved to Philadelphia and by the time he finished high school was regularly recording. He hit the R&B top 20 twice in 1966 with "This Can't Be True" and "Am I A Loser," but it was his pairing with producer Peter DeAngelis (known for his work with Frankie Avalon) that yielded one of the truly great soul love songs of all time. With Holman's chilling falsetto up front, "Hey There Lonely Girl" shot to #1 and became an instant classic. It also became Holman's signature song, reprised several times since in movies and television commercials, and becoming a staple on 70s love song compilations.
Holman continued to record through the 70s, scoring a minor hit with "This Will Be a Night to Remember," before fading from view. But while his recording career had seemingly ended, Holman continued to perform around the world. He also focused on his adopted city of Philadelphia, serving as a Baptist minister there while raising his three children with his wife, Sheila.
Holman was pulled from the pulpit in 2002 by PBS concert promoter, T.J. Lubinsky for the music special Doo Wop R&B 40. Holman provided the audience with the evening's greatest moment, absolutely nailing his performance of "Hey There Lonely Girl" and sounding as great as he did more than 30 years earlier. The performance also led to the reissue of Holman's earlier work and ultimately brought him back to the studio, where he recorded his gospel album, Love Story, on his own Agape Records. It was released in 2008. He is also considering writing an autobiography.
While Eddie Holman's recording career did not have the longevity that his talent deserved, he showed himself to be a unique and talented performer. And though most music fans will know him for only one song, it is a heckuva song to be known for.
By Chris Rizik