Arthur Conley, known for his 1967 hit "Sweet Soul Music," died today (Nov. 17) in Ruurlo, The Netherlands, after a battle with cancer. He was 57.
Arthur Conley, known for his 1967 hit "Sweet Soul Music," died today (Nov. 17) in Ruurlo, The Netherlands, after a battle with cancer. He was 57. Conley was born in Georgia and started his music career as the lead singer of Arthur and the Corvets in 1959. With this band, Conley released three singles in 1963-64 on Bill Lowery's Atlanta-based National Recording Company label.
In 1964, he moved to Rufus Mitchell's Ru-Jac label and recorded "I'm a Lonely Stranger." When Otis Redding heard the song, he asked Mitchell to have Conley come to Memphis to record a new version, which was then released on Jotis Records.
It wasn't until 1967 that Conley actually met Redding, but it would change his life. Redding took Conley under his wings and taught him the workings of the music business. They also together rewrote Sam Cook's "Yeah Man" as "Sweet Soul Music," which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard pop singles chart.
Conley was said to have never overcome Redding's December 1967 death in a plane crash. Although he still recorded and toured, he eventually settled in the rural town of Ruurlo in the eastern Netherlands and changed his name to Lee Roberts. There, he was involved in promoting young bands with his own company Art-Con Productions.