Personalities | Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler & The Impressions | Sixties | Rock

(Vocals/vocal group, 1957–90)

Childhood friends Mayfield and Butler joined Sam Gooden and Arthur and Richard Brooks in The Impressions in 1957, Butler going solo after one hit, ‘For Your Precious Love’. In 1967, Butler teamed his distinctive smooth soul voice with producer-writers Gamble and Huff and helped to forge the polished Philadelphia Soul sound with No. 1s like ‘Hey Western Union Man’. Under Mayfield The Impressions in the 1960s were the epitome of Chicago soul: light gospel vocals, unusual rhythms and an increasingly explicit expression of civil rights concerns – ‘Keep On Pushing’, ‘People Get Ready’, ‘We’re A Winner’.

Mayfield went solo in 1970 with a harder funkier sound, which found its greatest release in the 1972 blaxploitation movie soundtrack Superfly, containing his biggest hit ‘Move On Up’. Paralysed in a stage accident in 1990, he died in 1999. The Impressions disbanded in 1981. Butler is a Chairman Emeritus of the charitable Rhythm and Blues Foundation.

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Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock, general editor Michael Heatley


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