Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge

Alabama born Deep Soul singer Percy Sledge had a relatively brief period of intense popularity in the late 60s, fueled in large part by his impassioned rendition of the now-classic ballad, "When a Man Loves a Woman."  The plaintive song, about the lengths to which a man will go when he is enraptured by a lady, was perfect for Sledge's unusual, Southern Gospel voice, and it has become undoubtedly one of the all-time great Soul ballads, remade dozens of times by others, but with the magic of Sledge's original never being recaptured by any other artist.

A member of the Esquire Combos in the early 60s, Sledge went solo in 1965 and recorded "When A Man Loves A Woman" with producer Quin Ivy.  The song led to a signing by Atlantic Records in 1966, and also began a short string of hits over the next couple of years, including "It Tears Me Up," "Warm and Tender Love" and "Take Time To Know Her," all of which reached the Soul Top 10.  By 1970, Sledge's chart career had stalled, and he didn't record again for another four years, when he signed with Capricorn Records and released "I'll Be Your Everything," his last hit. 

Sledge became a fixture on the oldies circuit for the next two decades before releasing the critically acclaimed Blue Night in 1994 with producers Saul Davis and Barry Goldberg.  He then returned to his constant touring schedule, coming back to release the excellent Shining Through the Rain a decade later. Sledge continued performing internationally through the remainder of the decade. He died on April 14, 2015.

by Chris Rizik

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