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Singer Clarence Burke Jr passes away

Singer Clarence Burke Jr passes away

CLARENCE Burke Jr, the lead singer with the American group The Five Stairsteps, has died.

Mr. Burke passed away in Marietta, Georgia, the day after his 64th. birthday.

The Five Stairsteps, who were formed in the mid-1960s, featured Mr. Burke — then 16 — along with his sister Alohe and brothers James, Kenneth, Dennis and Cubie, who joined later.

The family was from Chicago and the children had been encouraged to sing and learn to play instruments by their policeman father, Clarence.

Clarence Jr was the eldest member of the group and as well as writing or co-writing some of their songs, including their first hit You Waited Too Long, he was also their choreographer and guitar player.

They enjoyed a string of hits, including World of Fantasy and Something’s Missing, and were soon being referred to as ‘the first family of soul’. But perhaps their best remembered recording is Ooh Child (see below), written by Stand Vincent, which reached No. 8 in the charts in 1970. It was to be their only top ten hit.

Their last hit was From Us To You which was released in 1976, shortly before they broke up. In 1980, Mr. Burke and his brothers formed The Invisible Man’s Band. During their time together they enjoyed success with a number of recordings which included the hit All Night Thing.

For many years Mr. Burke continued to record and perform (see below) and had been singing at gigs until shortly before his death.

To view vintage footage of The Five Stairsteps performing Ooh Child, click here.

To see footage of Clarence Burke on stage, click here.

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