Soul Singer Percy Sledge Dies at 73

Percy Sledge. Photo: Gilles Petard/Redferns

Singer Percy Sledge has died at the age of 73, the Associated Press reports. The soul singer, best known for "When a Man Loves a Woman," died of liver cancer at his home in Louisiana shortly after midnight on Tuesday. "When a Man Loves a Woman" was Sledge's debut single and his biggest hit, reaching No. 1 in 1966 and charting again in the late '80s. Covers by Bette Midler and Michael Bolton also topped the charts, but Sledge never received any of the song's publishing royalties, having given all songwriting credit to bassist Calvin Lewis and organ player Andrew Wright as thanks for helping him rework the song's lyrics. After the song became a hit, Sledge refused to fight for his share of the credit, but the experience left him with mixed emotions. "I felt like, if God fixed it in my mouth to give it to them, I won't change anything about it," he recalled later. "I'm satisfied with what I wrote, but I cut my kids out of so much ... I just wasn't thinking." Likely because of this, he had a robust touring schedule, averaging 100 concerts a year up until 2014. Sledge went on to have more Top 40 hits with "Warm and Tender Love," "It Tears Me Up," "Love Me Tender," and "Take Time to Know Her." He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005.