Curtis Mayfield first came to my attention as part of the vocal group, The Impressions.
I was only twelve years old when I heard their song Talking About My Baby. I was very taken with the distinctive voice on the track, which I later found out belonged to one Curtis Mayfield.
That inspired me to get one of their albums on vinyl, and the following year I became the proud owner of their latest release, ‘People Get Ready’
The title song was about civil rights, and showcased the voice of Curtis Mayfield perfectly.
By 1970, I was 18 years old, and Curtis had left The Impressions to embark on a career as a solo artist. From his first album, he released the excellent ‘Move On Up’, and I was sure from the start that his new venture was going to be a winner.
1971 brought us his second album, ‘Roots’. This also provided a world-wide hit, with the song, ‘We Got To Have Peace’.
That track showed his distinctive voice at its best.
One year later, he created the award-winning soundtrack for the popular Blaxploitation film, ‘Superfly’, starring Ron O’Neal, with a role in the cast for Curtis playing himself. This was Funk music at its best, and became a huge hit both as a single release, and a soundtrack album too.
Over the next decade, he released an album almost every year. Then in 1987, he collaborated with the English band The Blow Monkeys, on the anti-Margaret Thatcher song, ‘(Celebrate) The Day After You’.
You can see and hear his distinctive contribution in this official video.
He continued to release records, and perform live to sell-out audiences. Then in 1990, he was seriously injured when a lighting rig fell on him during a performance. Paralysed from the neck down, he still managed to record his final, album, with all the vocals sung whilst lying on his back.
Seriously ill with Diabetes, he died in 1999.
Curtis Lee Mayfield. 1942-1999