Over the weekend singer, preacher and family man Solomon Burke died. Burke reportedly passed away at an airport in the Netherlands after a long flight from Los Angeles. It appears he may have had a heart attack on the plane and could not be saved. How old was he when he passes away? No one seems to know. Sources say he was born in 1936, other claim he was born in 1938, but he says he was born in 1940.
Soloman Burke had led a fascinating life and leaves behind a massive family. So who is this man, this legend, and this father of 21?
His first big job was as a preacher in his home town of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and hehad his own gospel radio show where he got to hob nob with such notable figures as Martin Luther King Jr..
Burke also was and undertaker, a licensed mortician and had his own mortuary chain in Los Angeles. Hi uncle had a funeral parlor and he trained there when he was young.
His hits include “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” which was covered by the Rolling Stones , Wilson Pickett and was featured in The Blues Brothers. Another big hit? “Cry to Me,” the song that featured in Dirty Dancing and was recently used in a touched routine on Dancing with the Stars.
Burke had a very friendly relationship with the Catholic Church and he was invited to the Vatican by two different popes, performing at celebrations there.
What does he site as his greatest achievement? His family. And what a family it is. He had 21 children, yes 21! There are 14 daughters and 7 sons. They begat their own children making a total of 90 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren for the singer. How could he remember all their names?
He really is a traveling man, globetrotting across the globe for appearances and performances. Never seeming to slow down. His lastest, and last, record is to be released this month. It is called “Hold on Tight” and it’s a collection of 13 songs byt eh Dutch rock band De Dijk with their lyrics translated into English for Burke to perform. He was on his way to the Netherlands to perform with De Dijk when he passed away.
In and interview he said of performing and family, “What’s fun is that the audiences in both Europe and America range in age from five years old to my age and older, and the kids know these songs,” he adds. “They think I’m a big black Santa Claus, and I love them and always make sure to play what they want to hear. Still, no matter how much joy I’m having and sharing on the road, the best part of traveling is always coming home. You don’t realize the value of what you’ve done in your life until you leave castles with cooks and waiters and stages where you’re playing before thousands of people. You come home and your grandchild says, ‘Can you make me a hamburger?’ and suddenly everything seems so real.”
Our thought go out to his family, friends and fans.