Beloved soul singer Charles Bradley has passed away this past week at the age of 68, succumbing to a battle with stomach and liver cancer, but while he’ll be remembered as one of the biggest names in soul, we’re also looking back on some of the amazing efforts he gave to rock music.
As the versions of classic rock hits below will attest, Charles Bradley sounded just at home running through songs like Neil Young’s ‘Heart Of Gold’ and Black Sabbath’s ‘Changes’, but even something as rough as Nirvana’s ‘Stay Away’ could be smoothed over by his brilliant voice.
His death comes a mere six years after the release of his debut album No Time For Dreaming with his group the Menahan Street Band, which was preceded by a run of singles, and he went on to release two more singles in the intervening years, with his second album Victim Of Love charting the highest, and his third and final record Changes being labelled by critics as his best so far.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Charles Bradley,” his representatives said following his passing on Saturday (via Rolling Stone) “Always a fighter, Charles battled cancer with everything he had. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2016 and underwent treatment. Bradley headed out on the road earlier this year after receiving a clean bill of health but the cancer recently returned, spreading to his liver.”
“Thank you for your prayers during this difficult time,” they added. “Mr. Bradley was truly grateful for all the love he’s received from his fans and we hope his message of love is remembered and carried on.”
Charles Bradley’s label Daptone Records also expressed its condolences, with co-founder Gabriel Roth expressing just how big a hole will be left in the musical landscape by his passing.
“The world lost a ton of heart today,” Roth said. “Charles was somehow one of the meekest and strongest people I’ve ever known. His pain was a cry for universal love and humanity. His soulful moans and screams will echo forever on records and in the ears and hearts of those who were fortunate enough to share time with him.
“I find some solace knowing that he will continue to inspire love and music in this world for generations to come,” he continued. “I told him as much a few days ago. He smiled and told me, ‘I tried.’ It was probably the simplest and most inspiring thing he ever told me. I think he wanted to hug each person on this planet individually. I mean that literally, and anyone that ever saw him knows that he honestly tried.”
Enjoy three of Bradley’s impressive genre-jumping covers, followed by a live version of the astonishing ‘Why Is It So Hard’, below.