Arthur Conley in 1967
January 4, 1946|
McIntosh County, Georgia, U.S.
|Died||November 17, 2003
Conley was born in McIntosh County, Georgia, U.S., and grew up in Atlanta. He first recorded in 1959 as the lead singer of Arthur & the Corvets. With this group, he released three singles in 1963 and 1964—"Poor Girl", "I Believe", and "Flossie Mae"—on the Atlanta-based record label, National Recording Company.
Biography and career
In 1964, he moved to a new label (Baltimore's Ru-Jac Records) and released "I'm a Lonely Stranger". When Otis Redding heard this, he asked Conley to record a new version, which was released on Redding's own fledgling label Jotis Records, as only its second release. Conley met Redding in 1967. Together they rewrote the Sam Cooke song "Yeah Man" into "Sweet Soul Music", which, at Redding's insistence, was released on the Atco-distributed label Fame Records, and was recorded at FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. It proved to be a massive hit, going to the number two position on the U.S. charts and the Top Ten across much of Europe. "Sweet Soul Music" sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.
After several years of hits singles in the early 1970s, he relocated to England in 1975, and spent several years in Belgium, settling in Amsterdam (Netherlands) in spring 1977. At the beginning of 1980 he had some major performances as Lee Roberts and the Sweaters in the Ganzenhoef, Paradiso, De Melkweg and the Concertgebouw, and was highly successful. At the end of 1980 he moved to the Dutch village of Ruurlo legally changing his name to Lee Roberts—his middle name and his mother's maiden name. He promoted new music via his Art-Con Productions company. Amongst the bands he promoted was the heavy metal band Shockwave from The Hague. A live performance on January 8, 1980, featuring Lee Roberts & the Sweaters, was released as an album entitled Soulin' in 1988.
Conley was gay, and several music writers have said that his homosexuality was a bar to greater success in the United States and one of the reasons behind his move to Europe and his eventual name change. In 2014, rock historian Ed Ward wrote, "[Conley] headed to Amsterdam and changed his name to Lee Roberts. Nobody knew 'Lee Roberts,' and at last Conley was able to live in peace with a secret he had hidden--or thought he had--for entire career: he was gay. But nobody in Holland cared."
- "Aunt Dora's Love Soul Shack", 1968
- "Burning Fire"
- "Baby, What You Want Me To Do"
- "Day-O", 1969, Jamaican folk song recorded by Harry Belafonte
- "Flossie Mae", 1963, as Arthur & the Corvets
- "Funky Street", 1968, #5 R&B, #14 pop
- "God Bless", 1970, Top 40 R&B
- "Ha Ha Ha"
- "I Believe", 1963, as Arthur & the Corvets
- "I Can't Stop (No, No, No)", 1966, written by Dan Penn
- "I Got A Feeling"
- "I'm a Lonely Stranger", 1964, solo, re-recorded in 1965
- "I'm Living Good", 1971–1974
- "It's So Nice [When It's Someone Else's Wife]", 1971–1974
- "Is That You Love"
- "Let's Go Steady", B-side of "Sweet Soul Music"
- "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da", 1968, #51 pop, #41 R&B, Beatles cover featured guitar of Duane Allman
- "One Night Is All I Need"
- "Otis Sleep On", 1968
- "People Sure Act Funny", 1968, Top 20 R&B
- "Poor Girl", 1963, as Arthur & the Corvets
- "Put Our Love Together", B-side of "Funky Street" on Atco Records produced by Tom Dowd
- "Rita", 1971–1974
- "Run On", 1968
- "Shake, Rattle and Roll", 1967, Top 40 pop, Top 20 R&B
- "Something You Got"
- "Speak Her Name", featured guitar of Duane Allman.
- "Star Review", 1969, with Tom Dowd, written by Allen Toussaint
- "Stuff You Gotta Watch", featured guitar of Duane Allman.
- "Sweet Soul Music", 1967, co-written with Otis Redding, #2 R&B, #2 pop
- "Take A Step"
- "Take Me (Just as I Am)", 1966-1967(?)
- "That Can't Be My Baby"
- "Walking on Eggs", 1971–1974
- "Who's Foolin' Who", 1966
- "Whole Lotta Woman", 1967, #73 pop
- "Wholesale Love"
- Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 51 - The Soul Reformation: Phase three, soul music at the summit. [Part 7] : UNT Digital Library" (audio). Pop Chronicles. Digital.library.unt.edu.
- "Stax Records". www.goergwa.demon.co.uk. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 218. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
- "Boss Tracks, Arthur Conley, Sweet Soul Music". Bosstracks.blogspot.com. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- "The Mysterious Case of Arthur Conley, Otis Redding's Protege". Npr.org. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
- Memorial website (in Dutch) Photos from Arthur's last live performance, 9 June 2002 in Netherlands.
- Arthur Conley Sweet Soul Music Home Page w/ CD Liner Notes, Discography and Latest Releases
- Yoni's Home of Soul Music page on Conley, w/ info about unreleased tracks
- Find-A-Grave profile for Arthur Conley
- Otis Redding's biography contains history of Jotis Records
- Answers.com article on Arthur Conley
- Arthur Conley Dies