Soul singer Percy Sledge dies aged 73

Famous for When a Man Loves a Woman, the southern soul singer died in Louisiana on Tuesday

Percy Sledge, who recorded the classic 1966 soul ballad When a Man Loves a Woman, has died aged 73.

Louisiana coroner Dr William Clark confirmed that Sledge died early on Tuesday morning at his home in Baton Rouge. He had been diagnosed with liver cancer in early 2014.

Sledge’s first recording took him from hospital orderly to a long touring career averaging 100 performances a year and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.

Between 1966 and 1968, Sledge used his forlorn, crying vocal style to record a series of southern soul standards.

While his first hit When a Man Loves a Woman was by far his most famous song, other popular singles included Take Time to Know Her and It Tears Me Up. However, by 1968 he had largely fallen from commercial favour, though songs like Take Time to Know her continue to be revered by soul fans.

In later years, Sledge continued to be in demand as a performer in the US and Europe. When a Man Loves a Woman has continued to pop up in movies, including The Big Chill and The Crying Game. It was covered by Bette Midler in 1979 and Michael Bolton in 1991, the latter version reaching No 1.

Sledge’s version of the song reached No 1 in the US on its original release and reached No 2 in the UK in 1987 when it was used in an advert for Levi’s jeans.

Though the song’s lyrics describe a man blinded to his partner’s infidelity, it is frequently chosen as a first dance at weddings.

When a Man Loves a Woman had an unlikely fan in Margaret Thatcher, who named it one of her favourite songs in a 1987 interview with the British pop magazine Smash Hits.

Sledge continued to perform live frequently, and released an album, Blue Night, in 1994, to critical acclaim.

Staff and agencies

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