Bobby Caldwell, a legendary R&B singer and songwriter who wrote songs like Open Your Eyes and What You Won’t Do for Love, died at 71. According to a statement made on March 15 by his wife, Mary Caldwell, the singer had suffered from a protracted illness.
“Bobby passed away here at home. I held him tight in my arms as he left us. I am forever heartbroken. Thanks to all of you for your many prayers over the years.”
Bobby passed away here at home. I held him tight in my arms as he left us. I am forever heartbroken. Thanks to all of you for your many prayers over the years. He had been "FLOXED," it took his health over the last 6 years and 2 months. Rest with God, my Love. -Mary Caldwell
— Bobby Caldwell (@bobbycaldwell) March 15, 2023
Caldwell credited his versatility as a musician and his deep voice for the diversity of Miami, Florida, where he was born and bred. His iconic song What You Won’t Do for Love shot to the top of the Billboard charts as soon as it was released in 1978.
The song was sampled by Tupac Shakur for his 1998 posthumous hit single Do For Love. Other musicians like Common, The Notorious BIG, and John Legend have sampled his music.
Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson paid tribute to the late singer on Instagram and included a lengthy statement detailing their years-long game of phone. Thompson collaborated with Common on The Light, which includes a sample of Caldwell’s Open Your Eyes.
He stated (as reported by The Guardian)-
“Man such a missed opportunity to meet a legend. Thank you for your voice and gift.”
After being exposed to the city’s Hispanic, Haitian, reggae, and R&B music, Caldwell was raised in Miami. In 1951, he was born in Manhattan. He got his big break playing rhythm guitar for Little Richard in the early 1970s.
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He signed with the largely Black-focused record company TK Records in 1978. Caldwell composed songs like The Next Time I Fall for Amy Grant and Peter Cetera for musicians besides himself.
In a 2005 interview with NPR (as reported by E-news), Caldwell described music as follows:
“Most of the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know in the radio business, they all say the same thing. It’s like a universal language, and should have no barriers.”
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