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Percy Sledge (born November 25, 1941, Leighton, Alabama) is an American R&B and soul performer who recorded the hit "When a Man Loves a Woman" in 1966.
Sledge's soulful voice was perfect for the series of soul ballads produced by Ivy and Marlin Greene, which rock critic Dave Marsh called "emotional classics for romantics of all ages."
"When a Man Loves a Woman" was Sledge's first song recorded under the contract, and was released in March 1966. The song's inspiration came when Sledge's girlfriend left him for a modeling career after he was laid off from construction job in late 1965. Because bassist Calvin Lewis and organist Andrew Wright helped him with the song, he gave all the songwriting credits to them. It reached #1 in the U.S. and went on to become an international hit. "When A Man Loves A Woman" was a hit twice in the UK, reaching #6 in 1966 and, on reissue, peaked at #2 in 1987. The song was also the first gold record released by Atlantic Records. The soul anthem became the cornerstone of Sledge's career, and was followed by "Warm and Tender Love" (Covered by UK songstress Elkie Brooks in 1981), "It Tears Me Up", "Take Time to Know Her" (his second biggest U.S. hit, reaching #11), "Love Me Tender", and "Cover Me".
Sledge charted with "I'll Be Your Everything" and "Sunshine" during the 1970s, and has become an international concert favorite throughout the world, especially in the Netherlands, Germany, and on the African continent, and South Africa in particular.
In 1994, Saul Davis and Barry Goldberg produced his new album, Blue Night, for Philippe Le Bras' Sky Ranch label and Virgin Records. It featured Bobby Womack, Steve Cropper, and Mick Taylor among others. Blue Night received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album, Vocal or Instrumental, and in 1996 it won the W.C. Handy Award for best soul or blues album.
In 2004, Davis and Goldberg also produced the Shining Through the Rain album which led to his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Songs on the CD were written by Mikael Rickfors, Steve Earle, the Bee Gees, Carla Olson, Denny Freeman, Allan Clarke and Jackie Lomax.
Sometime in the late 1990's, Michael Bolton brought "When A Man Loves A Woman" back into the limelight again on his smash hit album "Time, Love, & Tenderness", all with the permission of the great Percy Sledge.
In the 1980s, Sledge re-recorded many of his signature hits, as well as handful of hits by other artists, and most of the cut-rate CDs available all over Europe and the US are from those re-recordings, making it confusing to find the real, original recordings. Those issued by Atlantic, Collectables and Rhino are the original versions.
In December, 2010, Rhino Handmade issued a 4 CD retrospective "The Atlantic Recordings", which covers all of the issued Atlantic masters, as well as many of the tracks unissued in the US (some got released in Europe and South Africa). What makes this limited edition release frustrating is that many of the mono tracks on discs 2, 3 and 4 have previously been issued in stereo (disc 1 comprises Sledge's first two LPs which were not recorded on stereo equipment).
Sledge was an inaugural Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award honoree in 1989. He won the W.C. Handy Blues Awards in 1996 for best Soul/Blues album of the year with his record Blue Night In 2005, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In May 2007, Percy Sledge was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame for his contributions to the state's music. Sledge is also an inductee of the Delta Music Museum in Ferriday, Louisiana.
In November 2004, Percy Sledge was inducted into the Carolina Beach Music Hall Of Fame.
Among the many notable performances of Sledge's career was a cabaret appearance in 2005 alongside Liverpool's infamous "Steam Packet" at The Pumphouse, Albert Dock.
Source: Wikipedia (The Free Encyclopedia)