Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield’s career as a recording artist began with The Impressions, in 1957. He was born in Chicago, in June of 1942, into a musical family that favoured gospel over other forms.

Curtis learned to play the guitar and he was invited by another lover of gospel music, Jerry Butler, to become a member of The Roosters; the group that would become known as The Impressions. The band enjoyed its first hit, in 1958, when it recorded “For Your Precious Love”.

When Jerry left The Impressions, Curtis Mayfield became its leading vocalist and songwriter. He also chose to continue his association with Jerry Butler and played guitar on that singer’s first No.1 hit, “He Will Break Your Heart”, in 1960.

Months later The Impressions entered the charts with its first of thirty-eight pop singles, the classic “Gypsy Woman”, which was destined to become an even bigger hit when Brian Hyland covered it, in 1970. Nineteen seventy was also the year in which Curtis released his first album, “Curtis”, as a solo artist. The album combined funky rhythms with stringed arrangements and was a departure from what he had been recording with The Impressions.

Curtis Mayfield’s lyrics reflected the plight of so many African-Americans, as they continued to suffer from prejudice and injustice. Singles such as “We Got To Have Peace”, spoke from the heart.

After nearly forty years of songwriting and recording, tragedy struck, in August of 1990, when high winds brought equipment, linked to the lighting at an outdoor concert in Brooklyn, down on top of Curtis. His injuries rendered him a quadriplegic.

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