Soul singer Charles Bradley sadly died on Saturday, September 23, it was announced in a statement made by his publicist. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2016 and cancer had spread to his liver. He was just 68 years old when he died.
Bradley had a rather late career that was characterized by his fiery performances that were inspired by James Brown, his personal music idol. He was also well-known for his deep rasp and powerful voice. He had once said he used his music to channel his demons.
While most people in the music industry establish their careers during their youth, Bradley was somewhat different. He didn’t release his debut album, ‘No Time for Dreaming’ until he was 62. It was an unusual move to launch his career in his twilight years.
Charles Bradley, who was also known as the ‘Screaming Eagle of Soul’, had idolized the legendary James Brown since seeing him perform for the first time in 1962. He had attributed his own success in the music industry to watching Brown’s performances.
Bradley was one of the artists signed to the Daptone label which is best known for producing music in the genre of revivalist 1960s. Daptone issued a statement thanking everyone for their thoughts and prayers and telling fans that Bradley was genuinely grateful for their support of his career.
Charles Bradley was born on November 5, 1948, in Gainesville, Florida. However, he grew up in Brooklyn, New York. At the age of just 14, he left home as he felt he was not wanted. Throughout his life, he moved around a lot and fluctuated between having short-term jobs and performing either with bands or as a solo artist. At one point, he had been performing with a band in Maine. Unfortunately, the Vietnam war led to the band being disbanded.
He returned to Brooklyn in his 40s where once again he split his time between working odd jobs and seeking out opportunities to sing in front of an audience. For a short time, he worked as a James Brown impersonator using the stage name ‘Black Velvet’. It was while he was performing as a tribute artist that he was spotted by Gabriel Roth who was a co-founder of Daptone and a recording engineer. While he was trying to establish his own career, he continued to perform as ‘Black Velvet’.
Gabriel Roth also issued a statement about Charles Bradley’s death stating that his soulful moans and cries would be something people remembered forever and that they were a cry for humanity and universal love. Roth said he was finding solace in the knowledge that Bradley would continue to inspire music for a long time to come.
Roth also spoke about the last time he was with Charles Bradley which was just days before his death. He had told the singer how he had inspired music and Bradleys response was that he had tried. Roth believes that Bradley wanted to hug each and every individual he met.
This is something that was echoed in his performances. After the release of his debut album, the singer toured and would always end his performances by launching himself into the audience, thanking his fans and then extending hugs to everyone.
Charles Bradley died peacefully in Brooklyn surrounded by his family and friends. This included people he worked closely with throughout his music career.