RIP Percy Sledge

Your great voice will be missed

A great singer who for whatever reason seems destined to be misremembered. Not only is he perceived a one hit wonder (in fact he had five US pop top 40 songs, and eight on the R&B charts) but most people don’t have a clue what that one hit is even about. I always cringe when I hear “When A Man Loves A Woman” at a wedding; nobody seems to realize that it’s a cry of pain and not a make-out song.

But while only that one hit lodged in the the mass consciousness, he in fact recorded an impressive catalog of classic soul songs down in Muscle Shoals, singing things written by great songwriters like Dan Penn and Eddie Hinton. In addition to “When A Man Loves A Woman” there’s also “It Tears Me Up” and “Cover Me” and “Out of Left Field” and “Sudden Stop.” Fortunately Rhino did right by him a few years back (shortly before Rhino itself vanished) and put out a box set of everything he recorded for Atlantic during his heyday.

Wait…no more Rhino? When did that happen?

Rhino downsized quite a bit in 2009. It is still around as a reissue brand for Warner Music … but no longer doing the quirkier/more ambitious things like Rhino Handmade or Percy Sledge box sets that used to earn them my moneys.

But looking at their Web site, which I hadn’t done for a couple years, they are still kicking. (They even have a Percy Sledge RIP post up.) Saved by the vinyl renaissance, maybe?

Yeah. I went to their website after reading your post and they appear to be doing just fine. Funny thing is I haven’t thought about them or bought any of their releases in years, but I’d hate to think of a world without them.

I think just about everything I bought in the 70’s and 80’s was on Rhino, Bear Family, Arhoolie, and Yazoo.