Curtis Mayfield

Curtis Mayfield

Highest Rated: 92% Superfly (1972)

Lowest Rated: 92% Superfly (1972)

Birthday: Jun 03, 1942

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Curtis Mayfield was an innovator in funk and soul, one of the first major songwriters to embrace black pride and the civil rights movement. His first group, the Impressions (originally called the Roosters) was formed with Jerry Butler, a fellow Chicago native whom he met in a church choir. The group's first single,1958's "For Your Precious Love" was a Top 20 hit that evinced the sweet harmonies of the doo-wop era. Butler went solo and Mayfield led the group to a more exotic sound with the next hit, 1961's "Gypsy Woman," on which he sang lead. 1964's "Keep On Pushing" was the first of many Impressions tracks to draw from gospel and to advocate black pride, but the most famous was the following year's "People Get Ready." Now effectively a gospel standard (even though it only hit #14 at the time), it has since been covered by Bob Marley and Rod Stewart among many others. Mayfield continued to get more outspoken, addressing racism on 1968's "This is My Country" and 1969's "Choice of Colors." Even stronger was his solo debut, 1970's "If There's a Hell Below, We're All Gonna Go," which sported a tougher funk sound. This too was a Top 40 hit. Mayfield's commercial peak came in 1972 when he scored the movie Super Fly, an early classic of the "blaxploitation" era. While the movie's depiction of the urban drug trade was controversial at the time, Mayfield's songs were clearly antidrug, and the three hit singles ("Freddie's Dead," "Pusherman" and the title song) were gritty in both sound and lyric. Along with Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and Isaac Hayes' own blaxpolitation soundtrack Shaft, it was one of the more influential albums of its time. The success of Super Fly didn't carry over to Mayfield's many '70s followups, though he remained an outspoken writer. The next album, 1973's Back to the World, was likely the first concept album to address the hardships of black servicemen returning from Vietnam. He wrote another soundtrack for 1976's Sparkle, about a female singing trio's rise to fame; though she wasn't in the film the soundtrack album featured Aretha Franklin. Mayfield also scored the prison movie Short Eyes and had a brief acting role. Tragedy hit Mayfield on a concert tour in 1990, when a piece of lighting equipment fell on him during a Brooklyn show in August. He was paralyzed and could never again play guitar; he made one more album, 1996's New World Order, piecing the vocals together while incapacitated. While receiving honors in later life-including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995 and a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1999-his health continued to fail, and in 1998 developed diabetes which required his right leg amputated. He died of complications in late 1999.

Photos

Filmography

Movies

Credit
92% 70% Superfly Original Music - 1972

TV

Credit
No Score Yet No Score Yet New York Undercover Unknown (Guest Star) 1997

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