#1 Posted on 2.4.03 2234.00 Reposted on: 2.4.10 2234.38
I am not sure if this belongs more in music or politics, but since his most famous song was very political (and I don't visit the The Music Forum) - I figured I'd post it here.
Soul Man Edwin Starr Dies
By Marcus Errico
Edwin Starr, whose gritty, gutteral protest anthem still resonates, has died. The soul-belting singer suffered what was believed to be a fatal heart attack Wednesday at his home in Nottingham, England. He was 61.
His antiwar classic (with the refrain: "War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing."), a number one hit in 1970 and revived as a Top 10 single in the 1980s by Bruce Springsteen, remains relevant, adopted anew by those opposed to the military action in Iraq (news - web sites). Springsteen, who had performed the song on stage with Starr in the past, even used "War" to open his Australian tour two weeks ago.
Now with Starr gone, "War" will be the soundtrack of choice to tributes for the late Motown great.
Born Charles Hatcher in Nashville and raised in Cleveland, Starr launched a doo-wop group called the Future Tones while he was still a teenager. The group scored a deal with a small local label and recorded one single before Starr was drafted in 1960. After a three-year stint, Starr relocated to to Detroit. As the story goes, a Motor City promoter heard Starr singing and told him, "Kid, you're going to be a star." That's how he wound up with his stage name.
He landed at Detroit's Ric-Tic Records, a Motown copycat, and soon scored his first big hit, "Agent Double-O-Soul," which peaked at number 21 on the pop charts in 1965. That was followed by "Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S)."
Ric-Tic was eventually gobbled up by Motown. Starr's first single for the company was the classic "25 Miles," a Top 10 hit in 1969, followed by the lament "I'm Still a Strugglin' Man."
Then came the anti-Vietnam "War" in 1970. Originally intended as a Temptations tune but deemed too controversial for the group, the single rocketed to number one. It spent 13 weeks on the charts, three in the top slot, and, in 1988, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. He followed with the similar- themed "Stop the War Now," which didn't prove as successful, topping out at number 26. His last major single was 1974's "Funky Music Sho' Nuff Turns Me On."
He reinvented himself during the disco era and had two minor hits in the late-'70s, "H.A.P.P.Y. Radio" and "Contact," before relocating to Europe and becoming a fixture on the oldies circuit.
His output slackened in the 1980s, although Springsteen's cover of "War" brought Starr added exposure. His songs have also been widely sampled by dance-hall and hip-hop acts.
More recently, Starr served as a troubadour of sorts to Liza Minnelli and David Gest. The singer was among the all-star group who provided post-nuptial entertainment at the couple's wedding extravaganza last April and had been on bill for their anniversary party, before it was scrapped because of the war in Iraq.