1968 Percy Sledge – Take Time To Know Her
Percy Sledge grew up in a small town in Alabama near Muscle Shoals. By the mid-sixties, Percy was working during the week as an orderly at a local hospital and singing with the Esquires on the weekends. A former patient at the hospital introduced Percy to Quin Ivy, a former disk jockey who had opened his own recording studio and was now producing records. After a quick audition, Quin signed Percy to a recording contract.
Two members of the Esquires, Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright, had written the song When A Man Loves A Woman and Percy recorded the song for Atlantic Records with Quin co-producing it. The single only reached #100 on the Hot 100 the first week it charted in 1966, but a few short weeks later, the record reached #1. It was one of only seven records that premiered at #100 and later reached #1. It was also the first number one record to come out of Muscle Shoals.
The record initially #4 on the UK charts, but later had a second run on that chart. Levi Jeans ran a series of ads on television that featured US soul music, and in 1987, an ad that used Percy’s single helped raise the popularity of the song. The record reentered the UK chart and peaked at #2. The single might have reached the top spot, but it was prevented from topping the chart by a re-release of Ben E. King’s Stand By Me that reached #1 after becoming the theme song for the film of the same name.
Michael Bolton covered When A Man Loves A Woman in 1991, and the song returned to the top of the charts. This made the song one of the nine songs in the rock era that have reached number one with recordings by two unique artists.
Percy had two more singles do fairly well in 1966; both of them reached the top twenty on the Hot 100 and the top ten on the R&B chart. One single in 1967 barely reached #40 on the Hot 100 and #35 on the R&B chart, but five more singles that year failed to do even that well.
Songwriter Steve Davis wrote 18 number one songs, most of which were Country hits. In 1968, Quin co-produced the single of one of his songs for Percy. Take Time To Know Her stalled at #11 on the Hot 100 but reached #6 on the R&B chart. That was Percy’s last top forty single on any chart (other than his later success in the UK).
Percy continued recording albums and releasing singles through 1974. He recorded an album in 1994 that gathered a nomination for the Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary Blues Album. He recorded another studio album and a live album in 2004 and released an album of gospel tunes in 2013.
Percy died in 2015 at age 73.
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