Percy Sledge

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Percy Sledge
Percy Sledge at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Concert.jpg
Percy Sledge at the Alabama Music Hall of Fame Concert
Background information
Born (1940-11-25) November 25, 1940 (age 74)
Leighton, Alabama
United States
Genres R&B, soul, traditional pop
Instruments Vocals
Labels Atlantic, Capricorn, Monument, Point Blank, Diablo, Sledgehammer, Virgin

Percy Sledge (born November 25, 1940)[1][2] is an American R&B and soul performer who most notably recorded the single "When a Man Loves a Woman" in 1966, an international top 40 hit that the RIAA has certified as gold. Having previously worked as a hospital nurse in the early 60s, he achieved his best success in the mid to late 60s and early 70s with a series of emotional soul songs, in his later years receiving the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Career Achievement Award.


Early career[edit]

Sledge worked in a series of agricultural jobs in the fields in Leighton, Alabama before taking a job as an orderly at Colbert County Hospital in Sheffield, Alabama. Through the mid-1960s, he toured the Southeast with the Esquires Combo on weekends,[3] while working at the hospital during the week. A former patient and mutual friend of Sledge and record producer Quin Ivy introduced the two. An audition followed, and Sledge was signed to a recording contract.[4]

Sledge performing on tour in 1974

Sledge's soulful voice was perfect for the series of soul ballads produced by Ivy and Marlin Greene, which rock critic Dave Marsh called "emotional classics for romantics of all ages". "When a Man Loves a Woman" was Sledge's first song recorded under the contract, and was released in March 1966.[3] The song's inspiration came when Sledge's girlfriend left him for a modelling career after he was laid off from a construction job in late 1965.[5] Because bassist Calvin Lewis and organist Andrew Wright helped him with the song, he gave all the songwriting credits to them.[6] It reached #1 in the U.S. and went on to become an international hit. "When A Man Loves A Woman" was a hit twice in the UK, reaching #4 in 1966 and, on reissue, peaked at #2 in 1987. The song was also the first gold record released by Atlantic Records.[7] The soul anthem became the cornerstone of Sledge's career, and was followed by "Warm and Tender Love" (Covered by UK songstress Elkie Brooks in 1981), "It Tears Me Up", "Take Time to Know Her" (his second biggest U.S. hit, reaching #11. The song's lyric and written by Steve Davis), "Love Me Tender", and "Cover Me".[3][6]

Sledge charted with "I'll Be Your Everything" and "Ain't No Sunshine" during the 1970s, and became an international concert favorite throughout the world, especially in the Netherlands, Germany, and on the African continent, and South Africa in particular.

Later career[edit]

Sledge's career enjoyed a renaissance in the 1980s when "When a Man Loves a Woman" re-entered the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #2, behind the reissued Ben E King classic "Stand by Me," after being used in a Levi's commercial.[3] In the early 1990s, Michael Bolton brought "When a Man Loves a Woman" back into the limelight again on his smash hit album Time, Love, & Tenderness.

In 1994, Saul Davis and Barry Goldberg produced his new album, Blue Night, for Philippe Le Bras' Sky Ranch label and Virgin Records. It featured Bobby Womack, Steve Cropper, and Mick Taylor among others.[3] Blue Night received a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album, Vocal or Instrumental, and in 1996 it won the W.C. Handy Award for best soul or blues album.

In 2004, Davis and Goldberg also produced the Shining Through the Rain album which led to his induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Songs on the CD were written by Mikael Rickfors, Steve Earle, The Bee Gees, Carla Olson, Denny Freeman, Allan Clarke and Jackie Lomax.

In December 2010, Rhino Handmade issued a four CD retrospective The Atlantic Recordings which covers all of the issued Atlantic masters, as well as many of the tracks unissued in the US (although some being simply the mono versions of songs originally issued in stereo. Disc 1 comprises Sledge's first two LPs which were not recorded on stereo equipment.) Sledge toured with Sir Cliff Richard during his Soulicious tour, performing his hit track "When a Man Loves a Women" and dueting on "She's My Puppet."


Among the notable performances of Sledge's career was a cabaret appearance in 2005 alongside Liverpool's "Steam Packet" at The Pumphouse, Albert Dock.

Among the many notable performances of Sledge's career was a cabaret appearance in 2005 alongside Liverpool's "Steam Packet" at The Pumphouse, Albert Dock.

Selected discography[edit]


Title Label
1966 When a Man Loves a Woman Atlantic 8125
1966 Warm & Tender Soul Atlantic 8132
1967 The Percy Sledge Way Atlantic 8146
1968 Take Time to Know Her Atlantic 8180
1968 The Best of Percy Sledge Atlantic 8210
1974 I'll Be Your Everything Capricorn CP 0147
1994 Blue Night Sky Ranch Records/Virgin
2004 Shining Through the Rain Varèse Sarabande
2013 The Gospel of Percy Sledge Elevate


Release date Title Chart Positions
U.S. Hot 100 U.S. R&B Canada UK Singles Chart[9]
1966 "When a Man Loves a Woman" 1 1 1 4
"Warm and Tender Love" 17 5 10 34
"It Tears Me Up" 20 7 12
1967 "Baby, Help Me" 87 44
"Out of Left Field" 59 25
"Love Me Tender" (A-Side) 40 35 35
→ "What Am I Living For" (B-Side) 91
"Just Out of Reach (of My Two Empty Arms)" 66
"Cover Me" 42 39
1968 "Take Time to Know Her" 11 6 5
"Sudden Stop" 63 41
"You're All Around Me" 109
1969 "My Special Prayer" 93 44
"Any Day Now" (A-Side) 86 35
→ "The Angels Listened In" (B-Side) 126
"Kind Woman" 116
"True Love Travels on a Gravel Road"
1970 "Many Rivers to Cross"
1970 "Help Me Make It Through the Night"
1971 "Stop the World Tonight"
1972 "Rainbow Road"
"Sunday Brother"
1973 "Sunshine" 89
1974 "I'll Be Your Everything" 62 15
1987 "When a Man Loves a Woman" (Re-issue) 2


1994 "I Wish It Would Rain" (Sky Ranch / Virgin, Sweden) duet with Mikael Rickfors produced by Saul Davis & Barry Goldberg

1994 "You Got Away with Love" (Pat Robinson & Rocky Burnette) / "Why Did You Stop?" (Carla Olson) (Sky Ranch / Virgin, France) produced by Saul Davis & Barry Goldberg

Compilation albums[edit]

Release date Title Chart Positions
UK Albums Chart[9]
February 1987 When a Man Loves a Woman (The Ultimate Collection) 36



  1. ^ State of Alabama website-Accessed and retrieved 2011-12-12
  2. ^ Accessed and retrieved 2011-12-12
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 892–893. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  4. ^ Aswell, Tom. "Louisiana Music Hall of Fame - Percy Sledge - 2007". Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2008-02-25. .
  5. ^ "The Standard Report:Entertainment - Percy Sledge Inspired by Former Relationship, Wrote Hit Song".[dead link]. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  6. ^ a b "Percy Sledge". Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  7. ^ Murielle, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 213. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  8. ^ "CBMA Hall of Fame". Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  9. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 507. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]