Solomon Burke, the "King of Rock 'N' Soul," died early today at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport at age 70, of natural causes. Burke, a pioneer of soul, rock and R&B in the 1960s, scored several huge hits in that decade, including "Cry To Me" and "Everybody Needs Somebody To Love," both of which were featured prominently in movies (Dirty Dancing and The Blues Brothers, appropriately) and both of which were covered by the nascent Rolling Stones. Burke was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.
Legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler once called Burke, "the best soul singer of all time," but he never achieved the same level of fame as his contemporaries, such as James Brown and Marvin Gaye. Burke was also a preacher, and imbued his music with a bone-deep spirituality. He lived quite a colorful life outside of music and the church too: he had 21 children, 90 grandchildren, and 19 great-grandchildren. He ran a mortuary business, sold chicken and porkchop sandwiches to musicians who he toured with, and supposedly also ran a drugstore whose pharmacy required him to ride a bike to gets perscriptions filled.
For the uninitiated, it is highly recommended that you check out his late-career masterpiece, the Grammy-winning Don't Give Up On Me, and it's followup Make Do With What You Got. Both albums feature Burke covering obscurities and newly-written songs from the likes of Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Van Morrison and Brian Wilson. Below, you can see a live performance of the title track from Don't Give Up On Me, with Burke bursting in passion from his signature chair.