Edwin Starr died aged sixty-one 2nd April 2003 from a heart attack while taking a bath at his home in Bramcote, Nottinghamshire, U.K. He was suceeded by a wife, Annette Mary Hatcher, a son André Hatcher, and two grandchildren Alonté Renfroe and Maryah Hatcher. He was buried in Wilford Hill Cemetery in West Bridgford, Nottingham. His headstone reads "Agent 00 Soul".
Edwin Starr was born Charles Edwin Hatcher in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. in 1942. In 1957, Edwin Starr formed a doo-wop group, the Future Tones, and began his singing career. Edwin lived in Detroit, Michigan, in the 1960s and recorded at first for the small Ric-Tic label, part of the Golden World recording company, and later for Motown Records.
The song which launched his career was "Agent Double-O-Soul" in 1965. Other early hits included "Headline News", "Back Street" and "S.O.S. (Stop Her on Sight)". At Motown he recorded a string of singles before enjoying an international success with "25 Miles", which he co-wrote with producers Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua. It peaked at number six in both the Hot 100 and Rythm&Blues Charts in 1969.
It was when Motown's Berry Gordy became frustrated with smaller labels like Ric-Tic stealing some of the success of his company that he bought out the label. Many of Edwin Starr's Ric-Tic songs, subsequently owned by Tamla Motown, like "Back Street" and "Headline News" became favored Northern Soul classics. His early Ric-Tic hit "Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.)" was reissued in Britain in 1968, and it performed better than the original release on the UK Chart, surpassing the original number 35 and peaking at number 11. His 1970 song "Time" also helped to establish him as a prominent artist on the Northern Soul scene.
The biggest hit of Edwin Starr's career, which cemented his reputation, was the Vietnam War protest song "War" in 1970. Edwin Starr's intense vocals transformed a Temptations' album track into a number one chart success, which spent three weeks in the top position on the U.S. Billboard charts, an anthem for the antiwar movement and a cultural milestone that continues to resound in movie soundtracks and hip hop music samples. It sold over three million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. "War" appeared on both of Edwin Starr's War & Peace album and its follow-up, 'Involved' which also featured another song of similar construction titled "Stop the War Now", which was a minor hit in its own right.
Moving to England in 1973, Edwin Starr continued to record, most notably the song "Hell Up in Harlem" for the 1974 film Hell Up in Harlem, which was the sequel to Black Caesar, an earlier hit with a soundtrack by James Brown. In 1979, Edwin Starr reappeared on the charts with a pair of disco hits, "(Eye-to-Eye) Contact" and "H.A.P.P.Y. Radio". "Contact" was the more successful of the two, peaking at number sixty-five on the US pop charts, number thirteen on the Rythm&Blues chart, number one on the dance chart, and number six on the UK Singles Chart. "H.A.P.P.Y. Radio" was also a Top Ten hit in the UK, reaching number nine on the chart in mid-1979. By now, he had joined the well-established disco boom and had further singles on 20th Century Records.
In 1985, Edwin Starr released "It Ain't Fair". Despite garnering the attention of many in the soul and dance clubs, it fell short of becoming a major hit only managing a number fifty-six on the UK Charts. Edwin Starr appeared on the charity number one single "Let It Be" by Ferry Aid in 1987. Later that year, Edwin Starr teamed up with the Stock, Aitken and Waterman production company for the club hit "Whatever Makes Our Love Grow".
In 1989, Edwin Starr also joined Ian Levine's Motorcity Records, releasing six singles and the album 'Where Is the Sound', as well as co-writing several songs for other artists on the label. Edwin Starr resurfaced briefly in 2000 to team up with the UK band Utah Saints to record a new version of "Funky Music Sho' 'Nuff Turns Me On". He appeared again in 2002 to record a song with the British musician Jools Holland, singing "Snowflake Boogie" on Holland's compact disc More Friends; and to record another track with Utah Saints, a so-far-unreleased version of his number one hit "War" – his last-ever recording.
In late 2002, Edwin Starr appeared with many Rythm&Blues stars on the "Rhythm, Love, and Soul" edition of the PBS series American Soundtrack. His performance of "25 Miles" was included on the accompanying live album that was released in 2004.
Edwin Starr remained a hero on England's Northern Soul circuit and continued living in England for the remainder of his life. He was inducted into the inaugural class of the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame at Cleveland State University in August 2013 and was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame in 2017.
Edwin Starr's career shifted to the United Kingdom in the 1970s, where he continued to produce music, living there until his death.
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