US soul singer Percy Sledge, famed for his song When a Man Loves a Woman, has died aged 73 at his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Tuesday.
For nearly 50 years, lovers all over the globe have been smooching to Sledge’s sweet, soulful sound, his unforgettable songs and his unique, forlorn vocal style.
Sledge’s debut single reached the top 10 twice in the UK and topped the US Billboard chart for two weeks in 1966, when it also got to number four in the UK chart. But that was just the beginning for When a Man Loves a Woman, which has become arguably the most famous lovers’ track in history.
The track again reached number two when it was re-released in the UK in 1987 after appearing in Oliver Stone’s film Platoon, but has been played throughout the world for decades in commercials, programs and series. It was featured in many other films such as The Big Chill, The Crying Game, and the 1994 Meg Ryan drama was named after the song itself.
Sledge started his working life in the cotton fields around his hometown of Leighton in northwest Alabama, before taking a job as a hospital nurse in the early 1960s in nearby Sheffield.
He was heard singing by a patient at the hospital, who immediately recommended him to record producer Quin Ivy. From there he set out on a long touring career averaging 100 performances a year, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.