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Obituary: Solomon Burke

Solomon Burke

Obituary by Jack Foley

AMERICAN soul singer Solomon Burke has died at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, aged 70.

The acclaimed singer-songwriter was perhaps best known for the classic song Everybody Needs Somebody to Love as well as the 1962 hit Cry To Me, which was famously used 25 years later in the film Dirty Dancing.

A former preacher turned singer, Burke was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and won a Grammy in 2003. He was a self-proclaimed King of Rock & Soul.

Burke had travelled to Amsterdam to perform at a well-known club in the city on Tuesday (October 12, 2010).

But Dutch national broadcaster NOS was sad to report that the music legend had passed away on a plane early on Sunday (October 10, 2010) after arriving on a flight from Los Angeles.

He leaves behind 21 children and 90 grandchildren.

A cause of death has yet to be announced.

Born in Philadelphia on March 21, 1940, Burke began his adult career as a preacher and hosted a gospel radio show, during which time he met fellow preacher Martin Luther King on several occasions.

But he soon discovered a passion for music and, in the ’60s, he signed with Ahmet Ertegun’s Atlantic Records – which also the home of music legend Ray Charles.

His first hit soon followed – a cover version of the country song Just Out Of Reach.

Cry To Me soon followed before in 1962, before Burke delivered what was arguably the most influential hit of his career – 1964’s Everybody Needs Somebody to Love, which became a world-wide smash and which was later covered by numerous artists including The Rolling Stones and Wilson Pickett.

The hits kept on coming throughout his career, which enjoyed several more highs, and he also enjoyed a special relationship with the Catholic Church throughout his life.

The highlight of this came in 2000, when he and his family were invited to perform at the Jubilee of the Family at the Vatican and he was subsequently invited back to the Vatican by both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI for the Christmas celebration.

After becoming inducted into the the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2001, the same year as Michael Jackson, Burke enjoyed a mini career revival with the hit album Don’t Give Up On Me, which featured him singing songs written by artists such as Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson and Van Morrison.

It was named best contemporary blues album at the 45th Grammy Awards in 2003.

He continued to perform at music festivals around the world, including Glastonbury’s Jazz World stage in 2008. But he vowed never to quit the live scene, such was his passion for singing and his appreciation for his fans.