Sunday, October 10, 2010

Farewell to Solomon Burke

Farewell Solomon.

Every time I've seen Solomon Burke over the last few years I've wondered if it would be the last. In fact, I said as much in my blog in March 2009. His immense weight - reckoned to be around 30 stone - would be a handicap to anyone, but to an ageing soul singer constantly touring the world it seemed too much to bear. Yet every time I saw him perform he was superb. His voice was always strong and, even though he had to be carried to his 'throne' under cover of darkness, he never failed to entertain and to demonstrate that he was indeed the King of Rock and Soul.
The last time I saw Solomon was at Porretta last year (see photos). As ever he put on a great show, with one of his 21 children supporting him along with one or two of his 90 grandchildren. Solomon was around at the beginning of soul music as we know it, with hits like Just Out of Reach and Cry to me in the early sixties on Atlantic and produced a string of great records over the ensuing decades. He managed to run his own church and a mortuary business as well as performing and recording and maintained the high quality of material throughout his life.
His death at the age of 70 (or possibly older - it depends who you believe) on his way to perform in Amsterdam demonstrated his approach to show business: a performer and recording artist to the last. Jerry Wexler described him as 'The greatest soul singer of all time', and that's a verdict that I would not disagree with. Easy...


At 8:01 pm , Anonymous Alan said...

I have had the same feelings on the last two or three occasions when I saw him, at the Barbican, and Porretta and just a couple of months ago at the Jazz Cafe. Yet each time, as soon as he was seated on that throne and started to sing, his voice was undiminished.


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