Lassiter was born in 1928 in North Carolina. His parents were cotton sharecroppers, and Lassiter began singing after joining his uncles' gospel group. At the age of 14, he moved to Newark, New Jersey to live with his mother who had moved there for work. While in Newark, Lassiter performed with the Jubilaires.
Lassiter married his first wife, Neaty Ann (née Butler), with whom he had two children. Lassiter later joined the United States Army and served during the Korean War. While stationed in the Far East, he performed in officers' clubs and took up boxing, competing under the name Artie Wilkins (taking his step-father's surname).
After leaving active service, Lassiter returned to the United States. During a cross-country drive, he broke down in St. Louis. While there he sang at an amateur club night, and was given a permanent booking. He often sang covers of Ray Charles songs, and formed The Bel-Airs with brothers George and Murrey Green and Douglas Martin. By late 1995, the band renamed themselves The Trojans and recorded with RCA Records, backing Ike Turner's Kings of Rhythm. The group backed Turner again the following February, this time on Federal Records under the name of The Rockers 5. Turner offered Lassiter a place in his Rhythm Revue, where he subsequently met and worked with Tina Turner, Sam Cooke, and Albert Cook.
Ike Turner wrote "A Fool in Love" specifically for Lassiter. Turner had chosen Lassiter as the lead singer of his group, though Lassiter failed to turn up to the song's recording session at the expensive Technosonic Studios in St Louis. Tina Turner—then going by the stage name Little Ann—knew the song from rehearsal sessions, and recorded a guide track to act as a demo. Lassiter's failure to appear for the session was around the time he had disagreements with Ike Turner over financial matters; he was soon no longer a member.
Later life and death
- Beers, Carole. "Art Lassiter, Charismatic Singer". Seattle Times. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Slotnikoff, Joel. "St. Louis Blues And Jazz Hall Of Fame". Blues World. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
- Gulla, Bob (2008). Icons of R&B and soul : An Encyclopedia of the artists who revolutionized rhythm (1. publ. ed.). Westport: Greenwood Press. p. 176. ISBN 0313340455.
- Bego, Mark (2005). Tina Turner: Break Every Rule. Lanham, Maryland: Taylor Trade Publishing. p. 62. ISBN 1461626021.