Ralph Tavares, the eldest of the five brothers in the Grammy-winning R&B singing group Tavares, whose hits included “It Only Takes a Minute” and “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel,” has died.
Tavares died at his home in South Dartmouth, Mass., on Wednesday, two days before his 80th birthday, the group’s manager David Oriola said. The cause was not immediately clear.
The brothers, sons of immigrants from Cape Verde who were based in New Bedford, Mass., began performing together in 1959, settling on the name Tavares in 1973, the same year they had their first hit, “Check It Out.”
Tavares sang alongside his brothers Antone Laurence “Chubby” Tavares, Perry Lee “Tiny” Tavares, Feliciano Vierra “Butch” Tavares Jr., and Arthur Paul “Pooch” Tavares. Another brother, Victor Earl Tavares, sang only on the first album.
The group hit their chart peaks with 1975′s “It Only Takes a Minute,” which reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Hot Soul Singles chart, and 1976′s “Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel,” which got to No. 15 on the Hot 100 and No. 3 on Hot Soul Singles.
Tavares’ cover of the Bee Gees’ “More Than a Woman” appeared on the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack in 1977 along with the original. The soundtrack won a Grammy for album of the year and was a massive hit, giving the brothers wider fame and leaving them associated with disco, though their music was an amalgam of styles include R&B, funk and soul. Tavares and all of the artists on the soundtrack received Grammys for album of the year.
The group was also nominated for a Grammy in 1982 for the single “A Penny for Your Thoughts.”
Ralph Tavares left the group in 1984 and worked for about 30 years as an officer in the Massachusetts state courts. He worked in the courtroom for the 2015 murder trial of former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.
“He was very humble, but he would love to tell us stories about Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder or the Bee Gees,” Quinn Feno, a court-officer colleague and close friend of Ralph Tavares, told the Standard-Times of New Bedford, which first reported the singer’s death.
Ralph Tavares reunited with the group in 2014 and continued performing with his brothers until his death.
“They had a show booked for Saturday night in the Poconos,” Oriola said. ”We were going to celebrate his 80th birthday.”