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R.I.P. Solomon Burke

Solomon Burke—a soul legend and Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Member—has died at the age of 70 according to UPI and other sources. Burke died of still-undetermined causes at the Amsterdam airport after a flight from Los Angeles. Born in Philadelphia, Burke scored the bulk of his hits recording for Atlantic in the 1960s. His voice—equally equipped for expressions of sweet yearning and bone-deep desire—helped define the sound of ’60s soul thanks to hits like “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,” “Cry To Me” (a hit twice thanks to its inclusion in Dirty Dancing), “Home In Your Heart,” “Down In The Valley,” “Get Out Of My Life Woman,” and others. In recent years, Burke had enjoyed a comeback that began with his 2002 album Don’t Give Up On Me, which featured Burke’s interpretation of new songs by Tom Waits, Van Morrison, and others.

Burke was also, to say the least, a colorful figure. A preacher before he was a singer, he wore many hats over the years. His sidelines included running a mortuary business, and a drugstore whose pharmacy required Burke—according to a Roctober Magazine—to bicycle to another store to fill prescriptions. Burke also took his entrepreneurial spirit on the road, selling chicken and porkchop sandwiches to musicians with which he toured and offering the wonderfully, but most likely deceptively, named Solomon’s Magic Popcorn. Burke also had 21 children, 90 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren. Early in his career, Burke took to calling himself the “King Of Rock ‘N’ Soul,” a self-appointed title. But in the face of overwhelming evidence, who could argue?

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