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‘O-o-h Child’ Singer James Burke, of the 5 Stairsteps, Dies at 70


James Burke, whose shared lead vocals helped make “O-o-h Child” right into a smash for his group the 5 Stairsteps in 1970, has died at age 70.

Phrase of Burke’s loss of life first started to flow into on Saturday and was confirmed to Rolling Stone on Tuesday by brother and bandmate Dennis Burke, who mentioned the reason for loss of life was pneumonia.

The 5 Stairsteps are sometimes regarded as a one-hit-wonder band due to the outsize reputation of “O-o-h Child,” which continues to rack up cowl variations right now, together with one which was launched simply final month by KISS member Paul Stanley. However the group had 19 singles that charted on both the R&B or pop charts — often each — between the years of 1966-80. “O-o-h Child” was their solely track to crack the highest 40 on the Billboard Scorching 100, peaking at No. 8. However 11 of the Stairsteps’ singles made it into the highest 20 of the R&B chart.

Artists which have coated “O-o-h Child” embrace Nina Simone, Daryl Corridor & John Oates, Dusty Springfield, Mary WIlson, Kelly Rowland, Kamasi Washington, Trey Anastasio, Richie Havens, the Spinners, Lisa Loeb and the Wondermints, amongst many others. In 2014, the unique model was launched to a brand new technology through its use in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the soundtrack of which turned the No. 1 album within the nation.

“’O-o-h Child’ is a song of optimism and hope,” KISS’s Stanley mentioned when he launched his cowl in January. “I think we could all use some words about things getting ‘brighter’ and a time when ‘we’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun.’ … I remember first hearing the Five Stairsteps on the radio and I felt like my problems were lifted from my shoulders.”

The track was ranked by Rolling Stone at No. 402 on its 500 Biggest Songs of All Time record.

The 5 Stairsteps had been a household group, and “O-o-h Child” begins with a plaintive opening verse from the Burkes’ sister Alohe, adopted by contributions from brothers Keni, Dennis and Clarence in addition to James.

Fellow artists who championed the 5 Stairsteps ranged from Curtis Mayfield, who signed the group to his label within the Nineteen Sixties, to George Harrison, who was taken by some cowl songs that hit near house (“Dear Prudence” appeared because the flip facet of “O-o-h Child,” they usually recorded “My Sweet Lord” the next yr) and signed them to his Darkish Horse label for a 1976 launch, “2nd Resurrection.”

5 Stairsteps album cowl

The group cut up up after that Billy Preston-co-produced album, however a number of of the members, together with James, quickly reunited because the Invisible Man’s Band, which had a minor disco hit with “All Night Thing,” which peaked at No. 45 on the Billboard 100 in 1980 however once more cracked the R&B high 10.

The Chicago-based siblings started their profession in Chicago, the place they recognized domestically as “the First Family of Soul,” as youngsters, and had their first hit in 1966 with the Mayfield-backed “You Waited Too Long.” The group’s identify was mentioned to have been coined due to how the sister and brothers had incrementally various heights when lined up collectively.

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