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ARTHUR CONLEY

 †

1946 - 2003

 

Monday 17 November 2003 soul singer and soul friend Arthur Conley died from cancer at the age of 57. Arthur Conley made world fame with the southern soul manifesto Sweet Soul Music, the biggest soul hit of the sixties where he's applauding other soul singers like Otis Redding who was his mentor.

Arthur Lee Conley was born January 4, 1946 in Hinesfield, Georgia. Like all great soul singers Arthur started to sing gospel during his childhood. Soon he formed his own band, Arthur Conley & The Corvettes. Rufus Thomas saw the young Arthur performing and was the first to state: 'Boy you're gonna be a star!' At the age of 18 he was discovered by Otis Redding who became his mentor and coach. Together with Otis, Arthur rewrote Yeah Man of Sam Cooke and recorded it as Sweet Soul Music in the Muscle Shoals Studio, Alabama. Sweet Soul Music certified gold and peaked no.2 on the pop and R&B charts, an all-time soul anthem. In 1967 Arthur joined the Stax/Volt revue tour of Europe with Sam & Dave, Eddy Floyd, Carla Thomas, The Mar-Keys, Booker T. & The MG's and Otis Redding.

Things were going well until Otis Redding died in a plane crash on December 1967. Arthur lost his mentor, coach and friend. The pressure of getting a new smash hit, wrong management and the high expectations of being the new Sam Cooke made Arthur Conley decide to leave the United States and settle down in Europe. After living in England, Belgium and finally Holland, Arthur changed his name in Lee Roberts (his mothers name) and in 1980 he performed live as Lee Roberts & The Sweaters in the Amsterdam Bijlmer of which later a live album Soulin' was released in small numbers. When people discovered that in fact this stunning live singer and performer was Arthur Conley he stopped and moved to his friend and soul mate Jos in Ruurlo, a small town village in the east of The Netherlands where he dedicated his live on weaving carpets and guiding young musical talent.

Arthur Conley was not only a gifted singer he was also a great performer and a talented song writer as well a remarkable person. He could have been one of the biggest stars of his decade, but instead he choose to stay aside. In fact he was a bit like his first single where he sings: "I'm A Lonely Stranger". With the passing away of this great talent the world has lost one of the finest 60 soul singers.

     

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