Soul Legend Charles Bradley Dies at 68; Questlove, El-P and More React
Soul legend Charles Bradley, who was affectionately dubbed “the Screaming Eagle of Soul," has passed away after a bout with cancer. The singer’s publicist announced the sad news on his official Facebook page today (Sept. 23). He was 68 years old.
Bradley was diagnosed with stomach cancer last year and beat the cancer, but it came back recently and spread to his liver. In September, Bradley had canceled his tour dates due to illness.
Born in 1948 in Gainesville, Fla., Bradley moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., when he was eight years old and endured a very tough childhood. He was a homeless drifter as a teen and battled with illiteracy, poverty and chronic unemployment.
It wasn’t until Bradley's sister took him to James Brown's landmark performance at the Apollo Theater that he wanted to pursue a singing career. But Bradley's journey into the music business was rather unique. He started in the 1960s and spent much of his formative years on the peripheral edge of the music industry. He even spent time as a James Brown impersonator.
It wasn’t until Daptone Records co-founder Gabriel Roth, who also discovered the late Sharon Jones, added him to his label’s roster that his music career really took off. In 2011, Bradley released his critically acclaimed debut album, No Time for Dreaming.
Over the course of three albums – 2011's No Time for Dreaming, 2013's Victim of Love and 2016's Changes – Bradley delivered his unmistakable soulful voice on songs about heartbreak, love, racial unity and his own personal journey over hardships.
Bradley was surrounded by family and friends when he died including members of the bands he worked closely with including the Menahan Street Band and His Extraordinaires.
Rest in Peace, Charles Bradley, your soulful voice will be sorely missed.
Check out fellow musicians' reactions to Charles Bradley's death below.