R&B legend Percy Sledge, the man whose voice turned “When A Man Loves A Woman” into a cornerstone of popular music, has died, according to a report from CNN. He was 73 years old. A cause of death wasn’t immediately reported, but Sledge had been treated for liver cancer in recent years.
Born in Alabama in 1941, Sledge spent much of his early life working odd jobs on weekdays and singing on the weekends. In the mid-1960s, Sledge got his first record contract when he was introduced to Quin Ivy. His first song under his record contract, “When A Man Loves A Woman,” was written by Sledge, bassist Calvin Lewis and keyboardist Andrew Wright; it took its inspiration from Sledge’s girlfriend leaving him to pursue a modeling career before he had made it as a singer. The song became a smash hit almost immediately, reaching #1 in the United States. A string of hits, including “Warm And Tender Love” and “It Tears Me Up,” followed throughout the ’60s and ’70s, but Sledge’s first single would be the one that defined his career.
Sledge continued touring through the ’80s and ’90s, and he saw a few moments of renewed popularity when “When A Man Loves A Woman” re-entered the charts in 1981 and when Michael Bolton scored a hit with the song in 1991. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 2004.