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'King Solomon' of soul fame dies at 70

Another dispatch from our resident music guru Terence McArdle:

On Sunday, Grammy-winning soul and gospel singer, ordained minister and mortician Solomon Burke died. His obituary appears here.

Here he is in performance with a version of "I Can't Stop Loving You" a country song interpreted in the soul genre by Ray Charles.

Mr. Burke helped define the uptown soul genre with such country-soul classics as "Just Out of Reach." and the pop song, "Cry To Me" which was featured in the movie "Dirty Dancing (1987)."

I had the pleasure to talk to Mr. Burke when he was doing a promotional tour for one of his albums in 1993.

I asked him if he had a favorite of his recordings. While he didn't have one favorite, he said that was this version of the Christmas hymn, "Silent Night" performed live with a church choir -- during a church service in the middle of summer -- stood out.
Mr. Burke, often called King Solomon or the King of Rock and Soul, weighed over 400 pounds and often wore a crown and carried a scepter on stage.

His contract had a provision for the rental of a throne; a provision that sometimes proved problematic for promoters.

As Michael Jaworek, a promoter for the Birchmere night club in Alexandria, recalls, "I told our tech director, "No problem: call the Washington Shakespeare Company and see if they have one they use for 'Falstaff' or some other 'outsized' role."

The cost: $150 and four comp tickets. When Mr. Burke saw it, his face lit up. "I will remember that moment and that smile, whenever i hear him sing."

Feel free to share your remembrances of Solomon Burke.

This article has been updated.

By T. Rees Shapiro  | October 11, 2010; 1:08 PM ET
Categories:  T. Rees Shapiro  | Tags:  Solomon Burke; Soul; Soul  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Celebrated opera singer Joan Sutherland dies at 83
Next: Betty Peebles, Jericho City of Praise senior pastor, has died


Unfortunately I never saw him. Read Peter Guralnick's book, Sweet Soul Music, for much more about Solomon Burke.

Posted by: steveh46 | October 11, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

If you want a quick introduction to Solomon Burke, listen to his "Nashville" CD. It is amazing.

Posted by: msbdvm | October 11, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

If you want a quick introduction to Solomon Burke, listen to his "Nashville" CD. It is amazing.

Posted by: msbdvm | October 11, 2010 4:13 PM | Report abuse

The person who wrote the headline on this piece was clearly not familiar with Solomon Burke. He was far and away known as a soul singer, not a gospel singer. I think the headline writer was thrown by the "ordained minister" thing.

Posted by: pgolkin | October 12, 2010 9:07 AM | Report abuse

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