Solomon Burke, both a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter, has passed away at the age of 70 in the Netherlands, where he was scheduled to perform a concert on October 12, 2010, at The Paradiso in Amsterdam to celebrate a new CD entitled “Hold on Tight.”
Born in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1940, Solomon Burke’s first career was as a preacher and also worked for a time as a mortician. He hosted a gospel radio show until the 1960s, when he chose to record secular music. He signed with Atlantic Records, the label of such popular artists as Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. There, his first hit song “Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms),” was a cover of a country song (with the title Empty Arms changed to Open Arms). While not a major hit, it made Burke a pioneer in the 1960s for blending country with a gospel influence. His self-penned follow-up, “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love,” and his biggest hit “Cry to Me” were covered by the Rolling Stones on their early albums.
“Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” was later featured in the Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi movie “The Blues Brothers.” “Cry to Me” became a hit for a second time after being included in the movie, “Dirty Dancing.” It’s the song playing when Baby (Jennifer Grey) goes to Johnny’s (Patrick Swayze) room and they slow dance before making love for the first time.
SEE THE ”DIRTY DANCING – CRY TO ME” SCENE HERE
It should be pointed out that while many people never heard of Solomon Burke until the Rolling Stones covered his songs, this was a result of the racial climate of the 1960s, and Burke was not the only superb singer to be neglected in America who gained some belated notice when their R&B hits were covered by groups from the British Invasion. In knowledgeable music circles, Solomon Burke’s stature has always been well-cemented and he was honored for his influence by many artists in 2002 when Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits and others wrote songs for his album “Don’t Give Up On Me.”
In 2006, Burke collaborated with Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris for “Nashville.” In 2008, he released “like a Fire,” featuring songs written by Eric Clapton and ‘ Ben Harper.
Solomon Burke was married three times and Burke was the father of 21 children (14 daughters and 7 sons). He told his audience in France in July of 2008 that he was expecting the birth of his 90th grandchild, and also had 19 great-grandchildren. In a 2008 interview, “Last of the great soul men”, Burke told Robert Chalmers (U.K. Independent reporter and author of “Fortune’s Bastard), that he doesn’t talk about his ex-wives or wives, but somehow Chalmers managed to establish that the majority of Burke’s children came from his 33-year second marriage to Delores, and he had 4 children with his third wife, Sunday. Solomon Burke was also the godfather of the youngest son of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown II (also the son of Tomi Rae Hynie).
The 70 year old self-titled King of Rock and Soul had spent 2010 on tour, traveling to Japan for the first time in May 2010, and performing in many European countries throughout the summer in the “Year of the Dream Love Tour.”
“Hold On Tight” contains 13 songs written by Dutch rockband De Dijk and translated into English for Solomon Burke.
Solomon Burke’s official website
Solomon Burke bio on AllMusic.com