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Arthur Conley


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Born 4 January 1946, Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Recalled as something of a one-hit-wonder, this Otis Redding protégé remains underrated. Conley first recorded for the NRC label as Arthur And the Corvettes. After signing to his mentor Otis Redding's Jotis label, further singles were leased to Volt and Stax Records before "Sweet Soul Music" (1967) hit both the US R&B and pop charts. A thin reworking of Sam Cooke's "Yeah Man" saw the song's original lyrics amended to pay homage to several contemporary soul singers. Although "Funky Street" was a US Top 20 hit, Redding's tragic death forestalled Conley's progress. Minor successes followed throughout 1968 and 1969 before the singer switched to the Capricorn label in 1971. His debut album, "Sweet Soul Music", is a strong collection, highlighted by each of his first five singles and two Redding originals. Some consider his third album "Soul Directions" as his best album, including "Funky Street", "People Sure Act Funny" and the beautiful "Burning Love" and "You Really Know How to Hurt A Guy". Arthur was also a member of the "Soul Clan" with Ben E. King, Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett and Joe Tex. Replacing Otis Redding, but standing very tall for sure on these recordings! His last album for Atlantic Records was "More Sweet Soul" Later, Conley had a set of recordings for Swamp Dogg released, of which some of the songs he really didn't like to sing and then, having relocated to Europe, did some touring from England to South Africa with Betty Wright, Timmy Thomas and others and later relocated to Amsterdam where a live album was recorded in 1980 under his pseudonym of Lee Roberts finally emerged some eight years later.


Since then, he has been active in supporting and guiding young talented musicians on for his Artcon Music Productions. He has been a DJ for a local radio station called Q-Radio for some years and appeared several times on the Dutch television. His last live show was in Sweden backed up by the Swedish Blue Ass Blues Band and his great performance made him heading "King Arthur", later he appeared shortly on stage with the Dutch soul tribute band "The Original Sixties R&B Soul Show" for promoting their CD.

Arthur kept on writing great music, sometimes in collaboration with Dutch producers and songwriters such as the groovy "Soul Clapping" with soul cat Roger Heijster and "May" with Alwin Mutgeert. Meant for a comeback album which was never released, unfortunately. Just a few months before he was hospitalized, he recorded a beautiful unreleased song for seeing his very near future "Soul Heaven" with producer Alwin Mutgeert. Although underrated, some know out of first hand that Arthur Conley was simply one of the best true soul singers of the last century. His voice had a touch of Sam Cooke and sometimes sounded a bit like Rod Stewart, but was unique in his own right as well. On his funeral "I'm A Lonely Stranger", "Sweet Soul Music" and "May" were played: "... there always be sparrows and there always be May...". Together with Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Jackie Wilson and others, Arthur Lee Conley is in Soul Heaven now, but his music is still here with us...


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