Percy Sledge has died aged 74.

The soul singer passed away Tuesday morning in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The cause of death was not immediately available.

Born in Leighton, Alabama in 1941, Sledge’s very first recording took him from his job as a hospital orderly to a decades-long touring career. ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ topped the US Billboard chart for two weeks in 1966 and reached number four in the UK chart, and was the first US number one to be recorded at Alabama’s famous Muscle Shoals studio.

The song was supposedly inspired by drama in Sledge’s own life, when his girlfriend left him to follow a modelling career after he was laid off from a construction job. Amazingly, because bassist Calvin Lewis and organist Andrew Wright helped him with the song, Sledge gave all the songwriting credits to them – something he may have regretted when it became the first gold record for Atlantic Records, and a hit twice over on its UK re-release in 1987.

Sledge was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. He’s survived by his second wife Rosa and 12 children. [via BBC News]



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