Curtis Mayfield Biography

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Birth Name: Curtis Lee Mayfield
Born: 1942/06/03
Birth Place: United States
Died: 1999/12/26
Years Active: 1958-1999
Genres: Soul, Rhythm And Blues, Funk, Chicago Soul, Psychedelic Soul


Curtis Lee Mayfield (June 3, 1942 – December 26, 1999) was an American soul, rhythm and blues, and funk singer, songwriter, and record producer best known for his anthemic music with The Impressions and composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film “Super Fly.” From these works and others, he is highly regarded as a pioneer of funk and of politically conscious African-American music. He was also a multi-instrumentalist who played the guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, and drums.

Mayfield's career began in 1956 when he joined The Roosters with Arthur and Richard Brooks and Jerry Butler. Two years later The Roosters, now including also Sam Gooden, became The Impressions. The band had one big hit with "For Your Precious Love."

Mayfield was a prolific songwriter in Chicago even outside his work for The Impressions, writing and producing scores of hits for many other artists.

In 1970, Mayfield left The Impressions and began a solo career, founding the independent record label Curtom Records. Curtom would go on to release most of Mayfield's landmark 1970s records.

The commercial and critical peak of his solo career came with his music album “Super Fly,” the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film of the same name, and one of the most influential albums in African-American history. The single releases "Freddie's Dead" and "Super Fly" both sold over one million copies each, and were awarded gold discs by the R.I.A.A.

One of Mayfield's most successful funk-disco meldings was the 1977 hit "Do Do Wap is Strong in Here" from his soundtrack to the Robert M. Young film of Miguel Piñero's play “Short Eyes.”

Mayfield was active throughout the 1970s and 1980s, though he had a somewhat lower public profile. On August 13, 1990, Mayfield was paralyzed from the neck down after stage lighting equipment fell on him at an outdoor concert at Wingate Field in Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York.

He was unable to play guitar, but he wrote, sang and directed the recording of his last album, “New World Order.” Mayfield's vocals were painstakingly recorded, usually line-by-line while lying on his back. Mayfield received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1995. In February, 1998, he had to have his right leg amputated due to diabetes. Mayfield was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999.

Curtis Mayfield died on December 26, 1999 at the North Fulton Regional Hospital in Roswell, Georgia due to his steadily declining health subsequent to his paralysis.

As a member of The Impressions, Mayfield was posthumously inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.




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