Bobby Caldwell, a soul singer sampled by a bevy of Hip-Hop artists, died this week and rocked the core of his devoted, if not confounded at times, fans. Often mistaken for a Black man, Caldwell became something of a social media legend once fans of his talented vocals discovered he was a white man.
Bobby Caldwell was born August 15, 1951, in New York, N.Y., but was raised primarily in Miami, Fla. Caldwell found himself surrounded by a variety of musical influences and even became close with Bob Marley, who was sold a home by Caldwell’s mother. Caldwell demonstrated the ability to play instruments as a middle-schooler ahead of joining a band later in his teens and picking up singing duties.
Caldwell was signed to Miami label TK Records, which primarily served up R&B and soul records for African American listeners. Caldwell’s eponymous debut album was released in 1978 and features “What You Won’t Do For Love,” easily Caldwell’s signature song. The story goes that TK Records wasn’t pleased with the album Caldwell turned in, so Caldwell took two days to record “What You Won’t Do For Love,” satisfying the desire of the label to gain a hit.
The collective of Hip-Hop artists who sampled or borrowed elements of Caldwell’s songs include 2Pac, Common, Aaliyah, Snoh Aalegra, The Notorious B.I.G., and more.
The Twitter account of Bobby Caldwell, with a statement from Caldwell’s wife, Mary, shared the tweet below:
Mrs. Caldwell writes of her husband being FLOXED, a condition that can occur after a type of antibiotic treatment and exposure to fluoroquinolones.
Bobby Caldwell was 71.
Photo: Ethan Miller/BET / Getty
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