Revered funk and soul singer Charles Bradley passed away at the weekend aged 68 following a year-long struggle with stomach and liver cancer.
His label, Daptone Records, has released a statement in the wake of the venerated musician's death, describing Bradley as "a fighter" who "battled cancer with everything he had". His initial diagnosis was made public in October last year.
"He was diagnosed with stomach cancer in the fall of 2016 and underwent treatment," the statement said. "Bradley headed out on the road earlier this year after receiving a clean bill of health but the cancer recently returned, spreading to his liver."
Daptone's statement said that Bradley passed away on Saturday in Brooklyn, "surrounded by family and friends including members of the bands he worked closely with: Menahan Street Band, His Extraordinaires, Budos Band and the Jimmy Hill Allstarz."
They paid tribute to Bradley's "dynamic and heartfelt" performances that won him a dedicated legion of fans across the world, and asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to non-profit organisations the All-Stars Project and Music Unites.
"Thank you for your prayers during this difficult time," they said. "Mr Bradley was truly grateful for all the love he's received from his fans, and we hope his message of love is remembered and carried on."
Charles Bradley was born in Gainesville, Florida, on 5 November 1948 before moving to Brooklyn when he was eight. He spent much of his life moving around the United States, playing small shows and doing odd gigs covering James Brown songs.
He returned to Brooklyn in the mid-1990s and began moonlighting in earnest as a James Brown impersonator, using the moniker Black Velvet, performing with the Jimmy Hill Allstarz. It was through his tenure as Black Velvet that he caught the attention of Daptone co-founder Gabriel Roth, who introduced him to producer and Menahan Street Band songwriter and guitarist Tom Brenneck. He released his first single, Take It As It Come parts one and two, in 2002.
Bradley released his debut album, No Time For Dreaming, in 2011, at the age of 62. The following year, he was the subject of a documentary, Soul Of America, which followed his remarkable journey through homelessness and transience to his Black Velvet and early Daptone years.
His second album, Victim Of Love, landed in 2013, and he made his debut at Byron Bay Bluesfest in 2015. He released his third and final album, Changes, in April 2016.
While promoting that album, he performed on CBS This Morning — Saturday, earning an Emmy nomination for Outstanding On-Camera Musical Performance In A Daytime Program. He also featured as a performer in the first season of Marvel's Luke Cage on Netflix.
Despite his relatively short period of renown, Bradley's impact was far-reaching; see a selection of tributes from social media below.
RIP Charles Bradley. He stuck with it + he made it. He did it for the love + people could tell. Inspirational.— Carl Newman (@ACNewman) September 24, 2017
RIP Charles Bradley. Will live forever in the Underground Garage.— Stevie Van Zandt (@StevieVanZandt) September 23, 2017
Rest in peace to the great Charles Bradley.— el-p (@therealelp) September 23, 2017
I've had the honor of being completely and utterly blown off stage by both of these sweethearts. RIP Charles Bradley. We miss you, Sharon! pic.twitter.com/QUdCugUw3R— Neko Case (@NekoCase) September 23, 2017
Gutted to hear about Charles Bradley. One of the best performers and nicest men I’ve ever met. Watch his doco ASAP - amazing story.— Dan Condon (@doncandon) September 24, 2017
RIP Charles Bradley! It was our honor to play with you. An electrifying performer who will be sorely missed— Miike Snow (@MiikeSnow) September 23, 2017
RIP Charles Bradley. The most beautiful, heart wrenching voice in music. His story is amazing. https://t.co/JsWayEHGix— nick kroll (@nickkroll) September 23, 2017
Charles Bradley was an amazing performer and an incredibly kind person. We're very sad to hear that he has passed. pic.twitter.com/2K5Ee00rak— SXSW (@sxsw) September 23, 2017
RIP to our dear brother Charles Bradley. Your heart was too big for this planet. See you on the other side. We love you.— Antibalas (@Antibalas) September 23, 2017
RIP Charles Bradley. He was a titan and an incredibly gracious human being. He oozed soul. One of my all time favorites. A photo from June: pic.twitter.com/YXHt6wDJCj— John Hendrickson (@JohnGHendy) September 23, 2017
Goodnight, Charles Bradley. You sang from beyond and gave the best hugs. pic.twitter.com/nrNpc6LtiP— greg dulli (@MrGregDulli) September 23, 2017
No! RIP Charles Bradley. You were a beautiful man and an inspiration. I hope the song we were making gets to live in the world someday.— Har Mar Superstar (@HarMarSuperstar) September 23, 2017