The iconic R&B singer and composer Bobby Caldwell, who was responsible for songs such as Open Your Eyes and What You Won’t Do for Love, passed away at 71.
The singer had endured a long illness, according to a statement posted by his wife, Mary Caldwell, on March 15. She wrote on his verified Twitter account:
“Bobby passed away here at home. I held him tight in my arms as he left us. I am forever heartbroken. Thanks to all of you for your many prayers over the years.”
Caldwell attributed the diversity of his city of Miami, Florida—where he was born and raised—to his ability to play in various genres and his deep voice. When it was released in 1978, his hallmark single What You Won’t Do for Love quickly rose to the top of the Billboard charts.
Tupac Shakur sampled the song for his 1998 posthumous smash Do For Love. His music has been sampled by other musicians like Common, The Notorious BIG, and John Legend.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, who worked with Common on The Light, which features a sample of Caldwell’s Open Your Eyes, wrote a homage to the late singer on Instagram with a long note explaining their years-long game of phone. He wrote (as reported by The Guardian)-
“Man such a missed opportunity to meet a legend. Thank you for your voice and gift.”
Caldwell was reared in Miami after being exposed to the city’s Hispanic, Haitian, reggae, and R&B music. He was born in Manhattan in 1951. Early in the 1970s, he played rhythm guitar for Little Richard, which was his big break.
In 1978, he signed with TK Records, a label predominantly recognized for Black performers. For musicians other than himself, Caldwell wrote songs like The Next Time I Fall for Amy Grant and Peter Cetera.
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Caldwell said of music in an interview with NPR in 2005 (as reported by E-news)-
“Most of the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know in the radio business, they all say the same thing. It’s like a universal language, and should have no barriers.”
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