Image for Solomon Burke: Everybody Needs SomebodyNot currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 1 hour

Fifty years after his first record - Christmas Presents from Heaven, a song dedicated to his grandmother - sold a million copies, the late soul singer Solomon Burke's life story reads like the rollercoaster ride she predicted for him.

He was the 'wonder boy preacher' who had his own gospel radio show at the age of twelve, then had his early success blighted by a crooked manager - a descent that left him in the gutter, with a distrust of the music business that would never completely leave him.

A spell working for his aunt's funeral home, his unlikely qualification as a licensed mortician and his seduction back into recording by the promise of a red Lincoln Continental followed. Then came a record deal on Atlantic Records alongside his heroes Ivory Joe Hunter, Big Joe Turner and Ruth Brown, making hit records, only to have his business venture with label mates Wilson Pickett and Joe Tex sabotaged by the very record company he had helped keep afloat.

Paul Spencer's film follows his journey from a humble Philadelphia neighborhood to New York and Hollywood, and the music industry's highest accolades - induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a Grammy for his 2002 album Don't Give Up on Me. His music is traced back to its gospel roots and we learn how faith in God sustained him, his 21 children, 79 grandchildren and 17 great grand children, the family he thought he would never have.

Bill Wyman tells how the Rolling Stones covered three of his songs in their formative years, Tom Jones admits that, for him, Solomon left all the other soul singers in the shade, and Jools Holland explains how his powerful voice and magisterial presence guaranteed him appearances on Later and one of Jools's own records.

Last on

Sun 7 Nov 2010 01:15 BBC Four

Music Played

26 items


Paul Spencer
Paul Spencer


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