The music industry is saying goodbye to another talent. On Tuesday, singer Percy Sledge died at 74 in Louisiana. According to Dr. William "Beau" Clark, the coroner for East Baton Rouge Parish, who spoke with The Associated Press, Sledge died of natural causes while in hospice care. The singer will forever be known for his song "When A Man Loves A Woman," which became a number one hit in 1966 and a beloved ballad for many couples in the years to come.
While Sledge brought the song to life, some might recognize the cover of "When A Man Loves A Woman" by Michael Bolton, who recreated the song in the '90s. It was also extremely popular in movies, including the Meg Ryan and Andy Garcia film, When A Man Loves A Woman, and the Vietnam War movie Platoon. Actually, it was re-released after being featured in Oliver Stone's Platoon.
Before topping the charts, Sledge worked in the cotton fields in Leighton, Alabama. Eventually, he started work at a hospital in Sheffield, but Sledge still found time to work on his musical passion. On the weekends, he played with a band called The Esquires. Apparently, a hospital patient heard Sledge singing and recommended him to record producer Quin Ivy. The rest is history.
According to Artists International Management Inc.'s Steve Green, there was just something special about Sledge. He said, "He was one of my first acts, he was a terrific person and you don't find that in this business very often. He was truly a standout."
Thanks to Sledge, "When A Man Loves A Woman" became the first number one hit from Muscle Shoals, Alabama's music scene and the first gold record for Atlantic Records. The details surrounding "When A Man Loves A Woman" aren't 100 percent clear. While some believe Sledge wrote it, he gave the songwriting credits to his Esquire band members, bassist Calvin Lewis and organist Andrew Wright. The song was, however, inspired by Sledge's girlfriend who left him for a modeling career after he was laid off from a construction job.
Sledge had many other hits, including "Warm and Tender Love," "It Tears Me Up," "Out of Left Field," and "Take Time to Know Her." It wasn't until 1974 that Sledge hit the charts again with "I'll Be Your Everything." In 2005, Sledge was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
It wasn't all sunshine and roses for the singer. In April 1994, he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and was sentenced to six months in a halfway house, received five years of probation, and was ordered to pay $96,000 in back taxes and fine.
In January 2014, Sledge underwent surgery for liver cancer, but that didn't stop him from touring and living out his musical dreams. Per the BBC, Sledge is survived by his wife and children.
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