RIP Solomon Burke

Brilliant soul music pioneer passed away on a flight to Amsterdam–and yes, he was still touring/performing at the age of 70.

Guy put out some of the best soul sides of the 1960’s…and of the 2000’s.

My mama says it’s silly
My papa says I look like a fool
Well, I don’t mind criticism
Because we do it every day in school —

Come along with me
See how much fun it can be
While watching me
Baby, do the stupidity

This was a tough one.

Solomon Burke never had a major hit - he never got higher than #22 on the pop charts - but he was one of the greatest soul singers who ever lived, and was rightly idolized by generations of musicians of all kinds. You may think you’ve heard “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love” sung by the Rolling Stones or the Blues Brothers but you’ve never really heard it until you hear Burke’s infinitely more soulful original.

If you’re interested in his work, check out The Very Best of Solomon Burke, a survey of his classic 60s singles, Soul Alive! a fiery live date from the '80s, and 2002’s Don’t Give Up On Me, where he sings songs some of his fans wrote for him … fans like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, and Elvis Costello.

In addition to being a great musician, Solomon was also a great character, one of the most colorful characters in 20th century pop music. He was a preacher - he gave his first sermon at age seven. He was an entrepreneur - in addition to his music he ran a drug store, owned a chain of funeral parlors, ran the popcorn concession at his gigs, and sold sandwiches to musicians on his tour bus … a profitable sideline in the 60s segregated South, since blacks weren’t welcome at most restaurants. He was a legendary storyteller; Peter Guralnick’s Sweet Soul Music is worth reading just for Solomon’s account of how he came to be the lead act at a KKK picnic. And we was, shall we say, prolific: he had 21 children and 90 grandchildren. Everyone needs someone to love indeed!

Very sad. Great artist.