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R.I.P. Percy Sledge, singer of “When A Man Loves A Woman”

“When A Man Loves A Woman” singer Percy Sledge has died. He was 73 and had been battling cancer.

Inspired by a breakup that happened after he lost a construction job, “When A Man Loves A Woman” was Sledge’s debut single, and went to No. 1 in 1966. He went on to have a few other hits, like “Warm And Tender Love,” “It Tears Me Up,” and “Take Time To Know Her,” but none were as big as that first smash. Sledge even re-released the track in the U.K. in 1987, where it went to No. 2 on the charts. Michael Bolton’s 1991 cover of the track also went to No. 1 in the U.S.


Interestingly, though Sledge co-wrote “When A Man Loves A Woman,” saying he’d been singing the song since he’d been picking cotton as a child, he gave his songwriting credit to two of his buddies in the Esquires Combo who helped him with a few of the song’s chords. Thus, he never saw a penny of the songwriting royalties, a move that he told Blues And Soul magazine was the “worst decision [he] ever made.”

Sledge toured extensively throughout the ‘60s and ‘70s, and was especially popular in the Netherlands, Germany, and in South Africa, where he played about 100 concerts a year. Sledge was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2005. He also received one of the first Rhythm And Blues Foundation Pioneer Awards in 1989.

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