Percy Sledge
Birth Date:
November 25, 1941
Birth Place:
Leighton, Alabama, USA
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When a Man Loves a Woman


R&B and soul singer Percy Sledge may be most known for his massive hit “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which he first recorded in 1966. The soulful ballad went to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts and charted high in Canada and the United Kingdom as well. It also became the first gold single released by Atlantic Records. Another U.S. hit, “Take Time to Know Her” (1968), rose to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 6 on the U.S. R&B chart. Although he suffered a setback during the 1970s, the performer continued to tour and record into the 2000s. His album “Blue Night” (1994) earned a W.C. Handy Blues Award and a Grammy nomination. Sledge began his singing career in the early 1960s as part of the southern soul vocal group the Esquires Combo before going solo in 1966.

Sledge was inducted into the Carolina Beach Music Hall Of Fame in November 2004 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2005. In May 2007, he was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. He also became an inductee of the Delta Music Museum in Ferriday, Louisiana.

On a more personal level, Sledge is married and has one child.


Childhood and Family:

Percy Sledge was born on November 25, 1941, in Leighton, Alabama. He has been married to woman named Rosa since 1980. They have one child together.

Blue Night


After working a string of odd jobs in Alabama, Percy Sledge landed a job as an orderly at Colbert County Hospital in Sheffield, Alabama. He worked at the hospital during the week and spent his weekends touring the southeast with a local band called the Esquires Combo. With the help of a former patient at the hospital, he met record producer Quin Ivy and was eventually signed to a recording contract.

Recorded at Norala Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama, in February 1966, the song “When a Man Loves a Woman” marked his first single recorded under the contract. It was released on April 16, 1966, on Atlantic Records and went on to become the singer's first and biggest hit to date. The song rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and went gold in the U.S., becoming the first gold record released by Atlantic. The song was also a hit in Canada and the U.K., where it rose to No. 1 and No. 4, respectively. Sledge was inspired to write the song after his girlfriend left him. However, he gave all the songwriting credits to bassist Calvin Lewis and organist Andrew Wright, who helped him with the song.

The same year, Sledge also released the singles “Warm and Tender Love” and “It Tears Me Up.” The first peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 5 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, No. 10 on the Canadian Singles Chart and No. 34 on the U.K. Singles Chart, while the latter, although failing to chart in the U.K., managed to reach No. 20, No. 7 and No. 12, respectively.

Sledge had no less than six charting singles the following year. “Baby, Help Me” made it to the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 87, but fared better on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, where it rose to No. 44. “Out of Left Field” made the top 30 on the U.S. R&B chart (#25) and peaked at No. 59 on the Billboard Hot 100. With a cover of Elvis Presley's hit “Love Me Tender,” he returned to the Canadian Singles Chart, but the song only peaked at No. 35. Sledge's version also went to No. 40 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 35 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. After the Billboard Hot 100 only charting singles “What Am I Living For” (# 91) and “Just out of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms)” (#66), he released “Cover Me,” a top 40 hit on the R&B chart and a top 50 hit on the Billboard Pop chart.

In 1968, Sledge scored another hit with “Take Time to Know Her” when the song peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 6 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and No. 5 on the Canadian Singles chart. It was followed by “Sudden Stop” (#63 US Hot 100; #41 US R&B) and “You're All Around Me,” which charted at No. 9 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (both also 1968). Sledge continued to release several singles in 1969, including “My Special Prayer” (#93 US Hot 100; #44 US R&B), “Any Day Now” (#86 US Hot 100; #35 US R&B) and “Kind Woman” (#116 US Hot 100).

In the early 1970s, Sledge released the singles “Many Rivers to Cross,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” “Stop The World Tonight,” “Rainbow Road” and “Sunday Brother,” but none made it to any Billboard charts. His luck began to change with the release of “Sunshine” in 1973, which charted at No. 89 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The follow up “I'll Be Your Everything” (1974) rose to No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 15 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. The song was Sledge's first single with Capricorn Records after he left Atlantic in 1974. Despite a decline in record sales, Sledge enjoyed considerably success as a live performer and performed at various clubs in America and England. He also emerged as a concert favorite internationally.

In the late 1980s, Sledge experienced a boost to his career thanks in part to his former hit “When a Man Love a Woman.” The song gained new audiences after being used in movie soundtracks and television commercials. Following its appearance in a Levi's commercial in the U.K., it was re-released and rose to No. 2 on the U.K. Singles chart in 1987. Two years later, Sledge was honored with the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Pioneer Award and capitalized on the success of the single by touring.

In 1994, Sledge released the studio album “Blue Night,” his first collection of new material in over a decade. Produced by Saul Davis and Barry Goldberg, the album received positive reviews from music critics and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary Blues Album, Vocal or Instrumental. The album won the 1996 W.C. Handy Blues for Best Soul/Blues Album of the Year. “Blue Night” featured Bobby Womack, Steve Cropper and Mick Taylor, among other artists.

In 2004, Sledge launched the album “Shining Through the Rain,” which was again produced by Davis and Goldberg. Mikael Rickfors, Steve Earle, the Bee Gees, Carla Olson, Denny Freeman, Allan Clarke and Jackie Lomax wrote the songs on the CD. In 2005, Sledge appeared in the musical special “Percy Sledge,” which aired as part of “Doctors of Rock.”

Recently, in 2010, his song “When a Man Love a Woman” was featured in the movie “Valentine's Day,” which was helmed by Garry Marshall and starred Julia Roberts, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Patrick Dempsey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Taylor Swift, Taylor Lautner, Eric Dane, Queen Latifah and Shirley MacLaine.


  • W.C. Handy Blues: Best Soul/Blues Album of the Year, “Blue Night,” 1996

  • Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer: 1989

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