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Curtis Mayfield

Biography

Without question one of the most important and influential artists in modern music, Curtis Mayfield put out dozens of classic albums throughout the course of a career that ran more than four decades. He began recording professionally in the late 1950s as a member of the Impressions, (originally a Doo Wop group known as the Roosters), a Chicago soul group he fronted with Jerry Butler. They hit the charts with the single "For Your Precious Love" in 1958, and went on to release 13 albums (charting 14 hits) before Mayfield left to go solo in 1970 (though he continued to write and produce for the group, who were signed to his Curtdom label). Amongst the first artists to address the social topics of racial pride, equality, and crumbling inner cities, he came into his own in the early seventies, and found his biggest commercial success with the soundtrack to the Blaxploitation classic Superfly, released in 1972. Mayfield's funk-drenched production, wah-wah guitar excursions, and trademark falsetto vocals touched a chord with listeners from all backgrounds and along with Isaac Hayes' work on Shaft, became a quintessential release that remains popular to this day. Throughout the seventies, he continued cranking out hits for himself and others, as well as maintaining his label and touring around the world. The changing music tides of the 1980s were not kind to Mayfield, though many hip-hop artists began sampling songs from his vast catalog of work. An outdoor concert accident in 1990 left him paralyzed from the neck down, though he continued to work sporadically and recorded a number of albums for various labels. In December of 1999, Curtis Mayfield died at age 57, leaving behind a enduring legacy.
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