Percy Sledge, Soul Singer, Husband, Father, Deeply Inspired by Church Gospel Music

Soul Singer Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge passed early Tuesday morning, just past midnight in his home in Louisiana. He was struggling with liver cancer and at the age of 73.

The man who is best known for his first song, “When a Man Loves a Woman”, is so much more than a soul singer. He is survived by his wife Rosa and his 12 children. He has been given a lot of praise over the course of his career and even beyond.

Early Influences

November 25, 1941 in Leighton, Alabama Percy Sledge came screaming into the world. His father passed while he was very young and he spent a majority of his time working the fields as a youth. He sang in the cotton fields and in his church choir, though in 2006 he told an interviewer that he wanted to be a professional baseball player rather than a singer. He was encouraged however by his boss in the fields as well as his choir master to take the path he took. His boss told him he thought his voice should be heard all around the world. His choirmaster gave him $50 to sing in a recording which garnered him so much praise that he chose to record “Why Did You Leave Me Baby” which later became “When a Man Loves a Woman“.

When Percy Sledge spoke to Quin Ivy a record producer about recording he told him that he needed to make it into a love ballad if he wanted to get it recorded. When asked how it was going sledge told the producer that “when a man loves a woman he can’t keep his mind on nothing” else. The song was born, and became Atlantic Records’ first gold record, as well as a Grammy Hall of Fame Award classic in 1999. In 2005, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his incredible music.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter