Sandy Anderson of 80s group Unlimited Touch dies from COVID-19 virus

(March 31, 2020) SoulTracks is very sad to inform readers of the passing this morning of bassist SamuelSandy” Anderson, a founding member of groundbreaking 1980s soul/dance band Unlimited Touch. The group’s drummer, Tony Cintron, confirmed on Facebook that Anderson had succumbed to the COVID-19 virus.

(March 31, 2020) SoulTracks is very sad to inform readers of the passing this morning of bassist SamuelSandy” Anderson, a founding member of groundbreaking 1980s soul/dance band Unlimited Touch. The group’s drummer, Tony Cintron, confirmed on Facebook that Anderson had succumbed to the COVID-19 virus.

In December of 1980, the New York-based sextet—featuring lead vocalists Audrey Wheeler and Stephanie James—burst on to the club scene in the United States with the scorching synth-funk/soul hybrid “I Hear Music in the Streets,” produced by Crown Heights Affair’s Raymond Reid and William Anderson (of no relation to Sandy). Within a month, the anthemic jam’s appeal had spread to R&B radio. Peaking at #6 on the club charts and making the top 40 of the soul listings, it quickly gained an international following—seeing successful releases in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, and The Netherlands.

Far from a one-off studio group, Unlimited Touch soon after released a self-titled full-length album on prominent disco label Prelude Records and followed “I Hear Music in the Streets” with the slightly slower, but equally funky and melodically dynamic, “Searching to Find the One.” The single surpassed the R&B peak of its predecessor, while a glowing B-side dancer, “In the Middle,” became a much-loved gem amongst disco, funk, and soul listeners over the next decade.

Unlimited Touch was downsized to a trio in 1983 due to difficult business circumstances, but Anderson remained on board. Entitled Yes, We’re Ready!, the group’s sophomore LP didn’t repeat the success of its first, but tracks such as “Good Loving” and the subsequent non-album single “Reach Out (Everlasting Lover)” eventually found their way on to several compilation albums. Concurrently, Sandy lent his defining style to a number of other records helmed by the Reid/Anderson production team, including albums on their MyDisc label by actor Darnell Williams, soul/blues vocalist Zinga Washington, and funk band Intensive Heat. He also played on popular singles ranging from Prelude labelmate France Joli’s “Gonna Get Over You” to Odyssey’s “Inside Out” and later, “All Nite,” a top-10 hit for Entouch featuring Keith Sweat.

Anderson’s stand-out bass-playing struck a hard-to-imitate balance of funk finesse and soulful smoothness. The irresistible bottom layer which he contributed to “I Hear Music in the Streets” provided the foundation for rapper Rampage’s 1997 #5 rap/#3 dance single, “Take It to the Streets” (notably bearing the song’s original vocal melody, resung by Billy Lawrence) and was also sampled by producer Sean “Puffy” Combs (aka Diddy) on Faith Evans’ top-10 1999 hit, “All Night Long.

Unlimited Touch recently reunited for the first time in decades to record a new version of “I Hear Music in the Streets,” as well as a new tune, for legendary producer Louie Vega’s upcoming Expansions in the NYC album. Since that time, group keyboardist Lenny Underwood has also been diagnosed with COVID-19. As this aggressive pandemic continues to plague talented entertainers around the globe, please keep the families of both Sandy and Lenny in your prayers.

Sandy Anderson left an indelible mark on dance-driven soul music at a time when many industry professionals wrote it off as a has-been fad. Adding a special depth that maintained the essence of disco while instilling ample doses of funk and soul, his bass skills were a fundamental part of the Unlimited Touch story which ultimately influenced many other artists in the field during the 1980s and onward.

by Justin Kantor

 

Unlimited Touch on Facebook

 

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