The great singer and pianist Ray Charles died Thursday, June 10, at the age of 73. He was about to go back on tour, but died of complications of liver disease. Charles shaped American music since the 1950s, at first copying the styles of black vocalists like Nat King Cole and Charles Brown. But he soon developed a style all his own. His career grew along with Atlantic records, which signed him as a fledgling label. Charles' first hit was "I've Got a Woman" in 1955. He went on to record more bluesy, gospel-charged hits, country, jazz and rock.
Ike Turner, the soul-music star and rock 'n' roll pioneer, died this week. He was 76, and had reportedly suffered from emphysema. Turner shaped the sound of early rock 'n' roll, co-writing and playing piano on the 1951 song "Rocket 88." (He was the "Jackie Brenston" of Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats.) Then, in 1958, he discovered a singer named Anna Mae Bullock; before long, she and his band both had new names, and the Ike and Tina Turner Revue became one of the hottest acts of the '60s and early '70s.
Solomon Burke, the Grammy Award-winning singer who wrote the hit track "Everyone Needs Somebody to Love," died Sunday at 70. Fresh Air remembers the "King of Rock and Soul" with excerpts from a 1986 interview.
Aretha Franklin was more than a woman, more than a diva and more than an entertainer. Aretha Franklin was an American institution. Aretha Franklin died Thursday in her home city of Detroit after battling pancreatic cancer of the neuroendocrine type. Her death was confirmed by her publicist, Gwendolyn Quinn. She was 76.