Published Apr 14, 2015Soul singer Percy Sledge, most well known for his 1966 ballad "When a Man Loves a Woman," passed away at home in Baton Rouge, LA, this morning (April 14) after a long battle with cancer. He was 73 years old.
The vocalist's death was confirmed by his agent, Steve Green, who had worked with Sledge for over 35 years.
"He was one of my first acts, he was a terrific person and you don't find that in this business very often," Green told the BBC. "He was truly a standout."
Born in Leighton, AL, in 1941, Sledge worked as a hospital orderly who played parties with the Esquires before being introduced to recording industry figure Quin Ivy. After signing a recording contract, Sledge produced a series of soul ballads showcasing his plaintive, powerful tenor.
Sledge's first single was the monumental "When a Man Loves a Woman," which went to No. 1 on the U.S. R&B and pop charts in 1966, as well as singles charts in Canada and the UK. The song was revitalized in the '80s after appearing in movies and commercials, climbing back to No. 2 on the UK singles chart in 1987.
According to an official bio, Sledge had written the song about a woman that had left him for another man. He gave all the writing credits to fellow Esquires Cameron Lewis and Andrew Wright, who helped with the arrangement.
Singer Michael Bolton would also achieve success with the song, with his 1991 cover also being a No. 1 hit.
Sledge went on to record singles like "It Tears Me Up," "Tale Time to Know Her" and more throughout the '60s, and issued five full-length LPs through Atlantic Records. He continued making music off-and-on from the '70s to the present day, last issuing The Gospel of Percy Sledge in 2013.
Among his many honours are a Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Career Achievement Award that he received in 1989, and an induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.