Percy Sledge, the soul singer who took “When a Man Loves a Woman” to the top of the charts in 1966, died this morning at his Baton Rouge home. He was 73.
According to East Baton Rouge Parish coroner Dr. William “Beau” Clark, Sledge died of natural causes while under hospice care.
Prior to becoming a recording artist, Sledge worked as a hospital nurse. He caught his big break when he recorded “When a Man Loves a Woman.” Sledge took the track, his debut single, to number-one on both the Billboard Hot 100, where it spent two weeks at the summit, and on the Billboard R&B Chart, where it held the top spot for six weeks. The song also reached the Top 10 in the United Kingdom twice–going to number-four upon its original release and reaching #2 when it was re-released in 1987. The song found new life in the United States in 1991 when Michael Bolton’s cover of “When a Man Loves a Woman” topped the Billboard Hot 100.
Thursday will mark the 49th anniversary of the release of “When a Man Loves a Woman” as a single.
His other hits included “Warm and Tender Love” (Pop #17, R&B #5), “It Tears Me Up” (Pop #20, R&B #7), and “Take Time to Know Her” (Pop #11, R&B #6).
Even after his chart success fizzled, Sledge remained a fixture in the music industry, releasing albums and touring the United States to perform live in concert.
His contributions to the music industry earned him a number of awards, including a Blues Music Award, a Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award, and induction into the Delta Music, Louisiana Music, and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame.
“He was a wonderful guy in a terrible business,” said Steve Green with Artists International Management, Inc., the talent agency that represented Sledge. “He was truly a standout.”
Sledge is survived by his wife and children. Funeral arrangements are pending.