Entertainment Music Charles Bradley, ‘screaming eagle of soul’, dies aged 68

Charles Bradley, ‘screaming eagle of soul’, dies aged 68

Charles Bradley
Charles Bradley was a fiery live performer. Photo: AP
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Charles Bradley, known as the “screaming eagle of soul” for a powerful, raspy style that evoked his musical hero James Brown, has died aged 68.

A statement posted on the US singer’s Twitter account confirmed his death.

Bradley, who achieved success later in life with his 2011 debut album No Time for Dreaming, was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2016 and underwent treatment, a statement from his publicist said.

He headed out to tour earlier this year after receiving a clean bill of health – but the cancer returned recently, spreading to his liver, the statement said.

At the time, he posted on Twitter: “I love all of you out there that made my dreams come true. When I come back, I’ll come back strong, with God’s love.”

Daptone record label co-founder Gabriel Roth, who discovered Bradley, said in a statement:

“The world lost a ton of heart today. Charles was somehow one of the meekest and strongest people I’ve ever known. His pain was a cry for universal love and humanity.

“His soulful moans and screams will echo forever on records and in the ears and hearts of those who were fortunate enough to share time with him.”

Roth said he told Bradley recently there was solace to be found for fans knowing Bradley “will continue to inspire love and music in this world for generations to come”.

Bradley’s response was: “I tried.”

Bradley closed shows with hugs for audience

Born in Gainesville, Florida, Bradley moved to New York when he was eight years old.

He left home as a teenager and lived as an itinerant.

“I was afraid that [my mother] was going to hurt me, so I left,” he said in documentary Charles Bradley: Soul of America in 2012.

Eventually, Bradley settled in Brooklyn 20 years ago.

He idolised James Brown and impersonated him under the name Black Velvet before he was discovered by Roth.

Bradley was a fiery live performer, and became known for closing shows with hugs for his audiences.

He followed up his first album with Victim of Love in 2013. His third album, Changes, was released last year.

He was nominated for an Emmy for a TV appearance last year on CBS This Morning: Saturday.