Singer and songwriter Gene McDaniels, whose work critic and songwriter Cub Koda referred to as “a hidden classic from rock & roll’s supposed fallow period,” has died at the age of 76, his website is reporting. Trained in gospel and jazz, McDaniels’ scored his greatest commercial success in the early 1960s, with the mainstream-friendly, but still powerful R&B tracks “A Hundred Pounds Of Clay,” “Tower Of Strength” and “Chip Chip.”

Though the years that followed saw fewer hits, McDaniels stayed busy as a songwriter and producer penning, among many other songs, “Compared To What,” a hit for Les McCann and Eddie Harris. The righteously angry, politically conscious mood of that song rightly suggested McDaniels as a man in touch with his times, and in 1971 he released Headless Heroes Of The Apocalypse, a doomy album that became a favorite among fans of eccentric funk. In recent years, McDaniels lived in Maine as, in the words of Vintage Vinyl News, a “near-hermit.” But he continued to record, create films, work as a voiceover artist, and release a series of YouTube videos, including this return to his earliest hit:

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