Philly born R&B legend Solomon Burke died this morning at the Amsterdam aiport, according to his web site. He was 70 years old. He had just arrived at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam for a sold out show at Paradiso when he passed away.
Burke was born March 21, 1940 in West Philly. According to this interview Burke did with the Philadelphia Weekly, “Burke was preaching by age 7 and had his own radio ministry by the time he was 12, taking to the road in the form of a holy roller tent show, saving souls up and down the eastern seaboard.” Burke was also a trained mortician, however music was his calling and he signed with Atlantic Records in the Sixties. He had a string of hits including the 1965 Rock & Soul album that had four Top 10 hit songs including “Cry To Me,” and “If You Need Me,” as well as “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,” recorded by The Rolling Stones. “Cry To Me” got renewed exposure in 1987 when it was included in a pivotal scene between Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing.
In 2001 Burke was inducted in to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. He released Don’t Give Up On Me on Anti- Records in 2002. Produced by Joe Henry and featuring songs written for Burke by Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Brian Wilson and Nick Lowe, the album led to a renewed interest in Burke and a revival in his career. That summer he performed at WXPN’s music festival, throne and all. Burke released his latest album in April called Nothing’s Impossible. He worked with the legendary producer and songwriter Willie Mitchell on the album.
Burke never had the same mainstream impact as some of his Sixties soul peers like Otis, Wilson and Sam Cooke however the legendary producer Jerry Wexler said it best: “The best soul singer of all time is Solomon Burke.”