Spectropop remembers

ARTHUR CONLEY (1946 - 2003)

He gave us Sweet Soul Music

Arthur Conley, who sang the soul classic 'Sweet Soul Music' in 1967, has died of cancer in Ruurlo, the Netherlands. He was 57.

He was born Arthur Lee Conley in 1946 in McIntosh, Georgia and raised in Atlanta. He first recorded as Arthur & the Corvets. In 1958 he joined the group the Evening Smiles, an otherwise all-female gospel group that regularly performed on Atlanta's WAOK radio. The group released three singles, 'Poor Girl', 'I Believe' and 'Flossie Mae'. In 1964, Arthur joined musical forces with his father in Baltimore and recorded 'I'm A Lonely Stranger'. During 1965 promoter Rufus Mitchell passed a copy of the single to Otis Redding after a concert at the Baltimore Theatre. Impressed, Otis asked Arthur to go to Memphis to re-record the song at Stax Studios. Jim Stewart produced the session with arranging assistance from Booker T.

It was in June 1967 that Arthur's recording career reached its pinnacle with the release of 'Sweet Soul Music', based upon the Sam Cooke song 'Yeah Man'. The song made the Top Ten in the USA, Canada, England, the Netherlands and The Philippines. After the tragic death of Otis Redding, Arthur's career lost some momentum, although he did score with the song 'Funky Street'. Arthur toured with the Stax/Volt Revue and later joined the Soul Clan with Atlantic labelmates Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke, Don Covay, Ben E. King and Joe Tex. He continued recording for Atco throughout the late '60s before relocating to the Capricorn imprint in 1971 where he remained for the following three years. These sessions included the singles 'I'm Living Good', 'Walking On Eggs', 'Rita' and 'Bless You'.

In the 1970s Arthur resided in England and Belgium. In 1980 he moved to the Netherlands and legally changed his name to Lee Roberts, (Roberts was his mother's maiden name). In 1988 Lee Roberts and the Sweaters released the LP 'Soulin', recorded live in Amsterdam. His Art-Con Productions group of companies included Sweat Records, Upcoming Artists Records, Charity Records, Lee's Disc Shop, Happy Jack Publishing and the New Age Culture Exchange radio station.

Adapted from an obituary at soulwalking.co.uk

Arthur Lee Conley, singer-songwriter: born January 4, 1946 - died November 17, 2003.