Gene McDaniels, Sixties Soul Hitmaker, Dies at 76
Gene McDaniels, Sixties Soul Hitmaker, Dies at 76

Gene McDaniels, a hit-making machine in the 1960s and 1970s best known for writing Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love" and for his own soul-pop gem "Tower of Strength," died at his Maine home on Friday (July 29), his family said. He was 76.

The singer-songwriter's wife, Karen Thompson McDaniels, said that the Kansas native died following a short illness and was surrounded by his family at his Kittery Point home.

McDaniels enjoyed chart success in the early 1960s, reaching the top 10 on the Billboard charts three times over the course of two years. His highest mark, No. 3, came for "A Hundred Pounds of Clay" in 1961. That same year his "Tower of Strength" reached No. 5 and later "Chip Chip," at No. 10.

Lesser hits followed but he made his biggest impact writing soul and R&B standards for others. McDaniels' best known track, "Feel Like Makin' Love," was a chart-topping hit for Roberta Flack in 1974 (not to be confused with the Bad Company track) and he delivered songs for other legends such as Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin and Johnny Mathis.

"Gene is music: lyrical, complex, joyful, perceptive, political, romantic, multifaceted, melodious and magnificent," says a statement on his website, posted after his death. "He is a man of great passion, countless musical personalities, an activist and a spiritualist, a patriot and a rebel, the singer and the song."

McDaniels' wife spoke lovingly of the singer in an interview with SeacoastOnline.com.

"It's so hard to capture the essence of Gene; his spirit was just larger than all of us. He had an ability to touch people wherever he went," said Thompson McDaniels. "He exuded energy -- and it was sincere, and kindness."

Friends say he was working until the end and had been booking shows as recently as July 20. The nature of the illness has not been revealed.

McDaniels was born Feb. 12, 1935 in Kansas and lived in Omaha until moving to Los Angeles. He is survived by his wife, six children and nine grandchildren.

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