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Curtis Mayfield

Perhaps because he didn't cross over to the pop audience as heavily as Motown's stars, it may be that the scope of Curtis Mayfield's talents and contributions have yet to be fully recognized. Judged merely by his records alone, the man's legacy is enormous. As the leader of the Impressions, he recorded some of the finest soul vocal group music of the 1960s. As a solo artist in the 1970s, he helped pioneer funk and helped introduce hard-hitting urban commentary into soul music. "Gypsy Woman," "It's All Right," "People Get Ready," "Freddie's Dead," and "Super Fly" are merely the most famous of his many hit records.

But Curtis Mayfield wasn't just a singer. He wrote most of his material at a time when that was not the norm for soul performers. He was among the first -- if not the very first -- to speak openly about African-American pride and community struggle in his compositions. As a songwriter and a producer, he was a key architect of Chicago soul, penning material and working on sessions by notable Windy City soulsters like Gene Chandler, Jerry Butler, Major Lance, and Billy Butler. In this sense, he can be compared to Smokey Robinson, who also managed to find time to write and produce many classics for other soul stars. Mayfield was also an excellent guitarist, and his rolling, Latin-influenced lines were highlights of the Impressions' recordings in the '60s. During the next decade, he would toughen up his guitar work and production, incorporating some of the best features of psychedelic rock and funk.

Mayfield began his career as an associate of Jerry Butler, with whom he formed the Impressions in the late '50s. After the Impressions had a big hit in 1958 with "For Your Precious Love," Butler, who had sung lead on the record, split to start a solo career. Mayfield, while keeping the Impressions together, continued to write for and tour with Butler before the Impressions got their first Top 20 hit in 1961, "Gypsy Woman."

Mayfield was heavily steeped in gospel music before he entered the pop arena, and gospel, as well as doo wop, influences would figure prominently in most of his '60s work. Mayfield wasn't a staunch traditionalist, however. He and the Impressions may have often worked the call-and-response gospel style, but his songs (romantic and otherwise) were often veiled or unveiled messages of black pride, reflecting the increased confidence and self-determination of the African-American community. Musically he was an innovator as well, using arrangements that employed the punchy, blaring horns and Latin-influenced rhythms that came to be trademark flourishes of Chicago soul. As the staff producer for the OKeh label, Mayfield was also instrumental in lending his talents to the work of other Chi-town soul singers who went on to national success. With Mayfield singing lead and playing guitar, the Impressions had 14 Top 40 hits in the 1960s (five made the Top 20 in 1964 alone), and released some above-average albums during that period as well.

Given Mayfield's prodigious talents, it was perhaps inevitable that he would eventually leave the Impressions to begin a solo career, as he did in 1970. His first few singles boasted a harder, more funk-driven sound; singles like "(Don't Worry) If There's a Hell Below, We're All Gonna Go" found him confronting ghetto life with a realism that had rarely been heard on record. He really didn't hit his artistic or commercial stride as a solo artist, though, until Super Fly, his soundtrack to a 1972 blaxploitation film. Drug deals, ghetto shootings, the death of young black men before their time: all were described in penetrating detail. Yet Mayfield's irrepressible falsetto vocals, uplifting melodies, and fabulous funk pop arrangements gave the oft-moralizing material a graceful strength that few others could have achieved. For all the glory of his past work, Superfly stands as his crowning achievement, not to mention a much-needed counterpoint to the sensationalistic portrayals of the film itself.

At this point Mayfield, along with Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, was the foremost exponent of a new level of compelling auteurism in soul. His failure to maintain the standards of Super Fly qualifies as one of the great disappointments in the history of black popular music. Perhaps he'd simply reached his peak after a long climb, but the rest of his '70s work didn't match the musical brilliance and lyrical subtleties of Super Fly, although he had a few large R&B hits in a much more conventional vein, such as "Kung Fu," "So in Love," and "Only You Babe."

Mayfield had a couple of hits in the early '80s, but the decade generally found his commercial fortunes in a steady downward spiral, despite some intermittent albums. On August 14, 1990, he became paralyzed from the neck down when a lighting rig fell on top of him at a concert in Brooklyn, NY. In the mid-'90s, a couple of tribute albums consisting of Mayfield covers appeared, with contributions by such superstars as Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, and Gladys Knight. Though no substitute for the man himself, these tributes served as an indication of the enormous regard in which Mayfield was still held by his peers. He died December 26, 1999 at the age of 57. ~ Richie Unterberger
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Move On Up (Single Edit)

1. Move On Up (Single Edit)

x

Track List: Do It All Night

1. Do It All Night [Long Version]

2. No Goodbyes

3. Party, Party

4. Keep Me Loving You

5. In Love, In Love, In Love

6. You Are, You Are

x

Track List: Heartbeat

1. Tell Me, Tell Me (How Ya Like To Be Loved)

2. What Is My Woman For?

3. Between You Baby And Me

4. Victory

5. Over The Hump

6. You Better Stop

7. You're So Good To Me

8. Heartbeat

x

Track List: Curtis In Chicago - Recorded Live!

1. Superfly (Live In Chicago)

2. For Your Precious Love (Live In Chicago)

3. I'm So Proud (Live In Chicago)

4. Once In My Life (New Live Version)

5. Preacher Man (New Live Version)

6. If I Were A Child Again (Live In Chicago)

7. Duke Of Earl (Live In Chicago)

8. Love Oh Love (Live In Chicago)

9. Amen (Live In Chicago)

x

Track List: Never Say You Can't Survive

1. Show Me Love

2. Just Want To Be With You

3. When We're Alone

4. Never Say You Can't Survive

5. I'm Gonna Win Your Love

6. All Night Long

7. When You Used To Be Mine

8. Sparkle

x

Track List: Mayfield: Remixed (The Curtis Mayfield Collection)

1. Superfly (Little Louie Vega EOL Mix)

2. Do Do Wap Is Strong In Here (Ashley Beedle Re-Edit)

3. Move On Up (Eric Kupper Vocal Mix)

4. Little Child Runnin' Wild (King Britt Scuba Mix)

5. Freddie's Dead (Blaze Roots DJ Mix)

6. (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go (Maurice Joshua Nu Soul Mix)

7. We Got To Have Peace (Eddie Baez Laid Back Mix)

8. Pusherman (Mixmastermike Pusher's Nephew Mix)

x

Track List: Rhino Hi-Five: Curtis Mayfield

1. (Don't Worry) If There Is A Hell Below, We're All Going To Go

2. Freddie's Dead (Theme From "Superfly")

3. Superfly

4. Future Shock

5. So In Love

x

Track List: The Essentials

1. (Don't Worry) If There Is A Hell Below, We're All Going To Go

2. Get Down

3. Freddie's Dead [Theme From 'Superfly']

4. Superfly

5. Future Shock

6. If I Were A Child Again

7. Can't Say Nothin'

8. Kung Fu

9. So In Love

10. Only You Babe

11. Between You Baby And Me (with Linda Clifford)

12. Do Do Wap Is Strong In Here

x

Track List: Love Is The Place

1. She Don't Let Nobody (But Me)

2. Toot An' Toot An' Toot

3. Babydoll

4. Love Is The Place

5. Just Ease My Mind

6. You Mean Everything To Me

7. You Get All My Love

8. Come Free Your People

x

Track List: New World Order

1. New World Order

2. Ms. Martha

3. Back To Living Again

4. No One Knows About A Good Thing (You Don't Have To Cry)

5. Just A Little Bit Of Love

6. We People Who Are Darker Than Blue

7. I Believe In You

8. Here But I'm Gone

9. It Was Love That We Needed

10. The Got Dang Song

11. The Girl I Find Stays On My Mind

12. Let's Not Forget

13. Oh So Beautiful

x

Track List: The Very Best Of Curtis Mayfield

1. (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go

2. The Makings Of You

3. Move On Up

4. Get Down

5. We Got To Have Peace

6. Freddie's Dead (Theme From

7. Superfly

8. Pusherman

9. Future Shock

10. Can't Say Nothin'

11. Kung Fu

12. So In Love

13. Only You Babe

14. Do Do Wap Is Strong In Here

15. Between You Baby And Me

16. Do Be Down

x

Track List: Take It To The Streets

1. Homeless

2. Got To Be Real

3. Do Be Down

4. Who Was That Lady

5. On And On

6. He's A Fly Guy

7. Don't Push

8. I Mo Git U Sucka

x

Track List: Live In Europe

1. Introduction (Live In Europe)

2. Ice 9 (Live In Europe)

3. Back To The World (Live In Europe)

4. It's All Right/Amen (Live In Europe)

5. Gypsy Woman (Live In Europe)

6. Freddie's Dead (Live In Europe)

7. Pusherman (Live In Europe)

8. We Got To Have Peace (Live In Europe)

9. We've Only Just Begun (Live In Europe)

10. People Get Ready (Live In Europe)

11. Move On Up (Live In Europe)

12. (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below, We're All Going To Go (Live In Europe)

13. When Seasons Change (Live In Europe)

x

Track List: We Come In Peace With A Message Of Love

1. We Come In Peace

2. Baby It's You

3. Body Guard

4. Breakin' In The Streets

5. Everybody Needs A Friend

6. This Love Is True

7. We Gotta Have Peace (1985)

x

Track List: Honesty

1. Hey Baby (Give It All To Me)

2. Still Within Your Heart

3. Dirty Laundry

4. Nobody But You

5. If You Need Me

6. What You Gawn Do?

7. Summer Hot

x

Track List: Something To Believe In

1. Love Me, Love Me Now

2. Never Let Me Go

3. Tripping Out

4. People Never Give Up

5. It's All Right

6. Something To Believe In

7. Never Stop Loving Me

x

Track List: Short Eyes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

1. Do Do Wap Is Strong In Here

2. Back Against The Wall

3. Need Someone To Love

4. A Heavy Dude

5. Short Eyes/Freak, Freak, Free, Free, Free

6. Break It Down

7. Another Fool In Love

8. Father Confessor (Instrumental)

x

Track List: Give, Get, Take And Have

1. In Your Arms Again

2. This Love Is Sweet

3. P.S. I Love You

4. Party Night

5. Get A Little Bit (Give, Get, Take And Have)

6. Soul Music

7. Only You Babe (Single Edit)

8. Mr. Welfare Man

x

Track List: There's No Place Like America Today

1. Billy Jack

2. When Seasons Change

3. So In Love

4. Jesus

5. Blue Monday People

6. Hard Times

7. Love To The People

x

Track List: Got To Find A Way

1. Love Me (Right In The Pocket)

2. So You Don't Love Me

3. A Prayer

4. Mother's Son

5. Cannot Find A Way

6. Ain't No Love Lost

x

Track List: Sweet Exorcist

1. Ain't Got Time

2. Sweet Exorcist

3. To Be Invisible

4. Power To The People

5. Kung Fu

6. Suffer

7. Make Me Believe In You

x

Track List: Back To The World

1. Back To The World

2. Future Shock

3. Right On For The Darkness

4. Future Song (Love A Good Woman, Love A Good Man)

5. If I Were Only A Child Again

6. Can't Say Nothin'

7. Keep On Trippin'

x

Track List: Superfly - Deluxe 25th Anniversary Edition

1. Little Child Runnin' Wild

2. Pusherman

3. Freddie's Dead

4. Junkie Chase (Instrumental)

5. Give Me Your Love (Love Song)

6. Eddie You Should Know Better

7. No Thing On Me (Cocaine Song)

8. Think (Instrumental)

9. Superfly

10. Freddie's Dead (Theme From "Superfly")

11. Superfly

x

Track List: Superfly

1. Little Child Runnin' Wild

2. Pusherman

3. Freddie's Dead [Theme From 'Superfly']

4. Junkie Chase (Instrumental)

5. Give Me Your Love (Love Song)

6. Eddie You Should Know Better

7. No Thing On Me (Cocaine Song)

8. Think (Instrumental)

9. Superfly

x

Track List: Roots

1. Get Down

2. Keep On Keeping On

3. Underground

4. We Got To Have Peace

5. Beautiful Brother Of Mine

6. Now You're Gone

7. Love To Keep You In My Mind

8. Underground (Demo)

9. Get Down (Single)

10. We Got To Have Peace (Single)

11. Beautiful Brother Of Mine (Single)

x

Track List: Curtis/Live!

1. Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey) (Live)

2. Rap #1 (Live)

3. I Plan To Stay A Believer (Live)

4. We're A Winner (Live)

5. Rap #2 (Live)

6. We've Only Just Begun (Live)

7. People Get Ready (Live)

8. Rap #3 (Live)

9. Stare And Stare (Live)

10. Check Out Your Mind (Live)

11. Gypsy Woman (Live)

12. The Makings Of You (Live)

13. Rap #4 (Live)

14. We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue (Live)

15. (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go (Live)

16. Stone Junkie (Live)

17. Superfly (Live: WTTW-TV Chicago)

18. Mighty Mighty (Spade And Whitey) (Live Single Version)

x

Track List: Curtis

1. (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go

2. The Other Side Of Town

3. The Makings Of You

4. We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue

5. Move On Up (Extended Version)

6. Miss Black America

7. Wild And Free

8. Give It Up

9. Power To The People (Demo Version)

10. Underground (Demo Version)

11. Ghetto Child (Demo Version)

12. Readings In Astrology (Demo Version)

13. Suffer (Demo Version)

14. Miss Black America (Demo Version)

15. The Makings Of You (Take 32, Backing Tracks)

16. (Don't Worry) If There Is A Hell Below, We're All Going To Go (Backing Tracks)

17. (Don't Worry) If There's A Hell Below We're All Going To Go (Single Edit)

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Curtis Mayfield - Chicago best... bye.
Report as inappropriate
Curtis is from the "CHI"! Enough said!! ..........
Report as inappropriate
Real recognize real. I'm a lil child running wild still!!! & if there's a hell below we're all gonna go! Head and heart's open, let's take this country back from the ELITE who just pollute our mind, body, and soul��
Report as inappropriate
justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
U know what, I am not going to be a little bit of a know it all person. This is the best album i have heard in my entire life. No one can ever top this one. R.I.P / Soul Brother. And keep your eyes on Miss Martha. ����
Report as inappropriate
We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue....this song is so very relevant in this uncertain time!
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Mmm Mmm Mmm!
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lsj651
Just great music great outstanding 1 of the best
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Just love Mr. Curtis Mayfield
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Absolutely awesome.....
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azima
Great album, great artist!!
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I love it all
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I love my old school music
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dragonlady60 8 8
Now this SONG brings back MEMORIES.... L O V E IT
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Ones of my favorite Artists
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One of the best ever
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Curtis has been my chill-pill since the 1970's
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antoinette.r i c h a r d
Good Beat!!Good Music!��
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Pimp music for life
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justinjenny4 9 5
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
I agree with everyone. The music was and still is great! His music was and is the black man's national anthem. Right on, Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, and Isaac Hayes! ������������
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A true genius of his time, We People Darker than Blue was one of his greatest to me.
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Love this song
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Mr.Curtis Mayfield- a great - Moving On Up- a song of improving out quality of life as a race of people ,coming out of slavery- "Moving On Up"!
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Where's. Barry white
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Curtis was an innovative genius. Plain and simple FACT came through his voice AND ��. I lived THIS era and OUR creative ARTISTS ALL WERE PROPHETIC.��
Report as inappropriate
Everything that recently.Hap p e n e d to "Motown U.S.A."..... , w a s direct demise&resul t without.
Formerly Conferring with CURTIS MAYFIELD along with BARRY GORDY SR.
Report as inappropriate
Way ahead of his time!!!
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Curtis another bad brother from the "CHI"! Yes, he spoke the truth and his music was about what was going on. Keep it. Thanks.
Report as inappropriate
THIS NEW WORLD ORDER:It's here!!!!!!!! 2 0 1 6 - 2 0 1 7 AUGUST-SEPTE M B E R . . . . . . . . L i s t e n Up!!!!!
Can't get around it....beside it.......und e r , o r O V E R it!
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Thank you brother, Curtis!
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sharquaysia9 3
My type of music
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Gone but his music lives on!
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Away suck
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He had a great


Legacy are
Blessings


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Give Me Your Love: I love my old school music.
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slchatten0
We're a Winner, If We Had a Choice of Colors are the inspirationa l songs of my day. He will be remembered as the messenger for the people. Check him out... songs still apply today. The Struggle Continues.
Report as inappropriate
Curtis Mayfield was cool from his time with the Impressions through his solo career. Good music, well written and produced.
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Move On Up.....love this song. Curtis Mayfield...m u c h love!!!
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mysteriousst r a n g e r s 8 6
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
Cause Freddie's Dead...
Report as inappropriate
One of our most underrated geniuses. He did it all, sing, write, commentate, uplift, produce and play instrument. I miss Curtis. Thankfully his music survives him.
Report as inappropriate
Love Curtis to death
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koolkurt617
I was named after him.
Report as inappropriate
gnyce07
Don't read this. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Don't stop now this is freaky! But if you ignore this you will get bad luck. Put this on 15 songs in 144 minutes when you are done press the space bar and your crushes name will appear
Report as inappropriate
Named my son after you Curtis Mayfield
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Move On Up...my fave Curtis Mayfield song
Report as inappropriate
Now this is what you call real music. Just kick back and Let it soothe your soul.
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tlynch914
Pure genius. One and only Curtis Mayfield.
Report as inappropriate
I love Curtis Mayfield music
Show more

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