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Gene McDaniels

Gene McDaniels was one of the more popular artists to emerge from the 1950s R&B scene just as "soul" began to establish itself as a distinct subcategory (and later the dominant sound) of the latter genre. Born Eugene Booker McDaniels in Kansas City, Kansas in 1935, and later raised in Omaha, Nebraska, he was the son of a minister, and gospel music, along with the words of the bible, filled his life early on -- his early idols included the Soul Stirrers and the Swan Silvertones. Before his teens, he also discovered jazz just as bebop was sweeping the latter field, and he became an early admirer of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis; McDaniels always gravitated toward singing, not surprising given his four-octave range, but he also became proficient on the saxophone and the trumpet.

His first performing group, the Echoes of Joy (later the Sultans) -- organized when he was 11 -- specialized exclusively in gospel music, but McDaniels later started to work popular tunes into their repertoire. Following a citywide singing competition in which he managed to distinguish himself amid the best of all of his peers, he started looking toward music as a career. He later forsook traditional academics in favor of study at the Omaha Conservatory of Music, and made his professional debut as a member of the Mississippi Piney Woods Singers, whose touring got him to the West Coast, where he began performing jazz as a solo singer in his spare time. Eventually he began singing with his idol, Les McCann, at a club called The Lamp, which didn't last long but built McDaniels a following sufficient to get him noticed by Liberty Records.

After being signed by Sy Waronker, McDaniels was first put into the hands of producer Felix Slatkin, but their first two singles and an accompanying album failed to sell in serious quantities. His break came when Snuff Garrett took over as producer -- Slatkin was a phenomenal musician, as a violinist and conductor, but Garrett had an ear for sound and songs that was second to none, and was responsible for corraling the song that became McDaniels' first hit, "A Hundred Pounds of Clay." The singer himself hated the song, believing it too simplistic in the wake of the jazz he'd been singing for the previous decade, but Garrett's instincts proved correct, the single reaching number three in the spring of 1961 and earning a gold record award. His next record, "A Tear," was a minor chart hit. But the record after that, "Tower of Strength," co-written by Burt Bacharach, reached number five and earned McDaniels another gold record award in the process.

McDaniels saw regular chart action over the next three years, and even made it into one classic jukebox movie, It's Trad, Dad (1962) (directed by Richard Lester), where he was seen performing "Another Tear Falls." His brand of soul music gradually faded from popularity, however, in the face of competition from figures such as Otis Redding and Sam & Dave, with their more raw, less pop-oriented sound. He left Liberty in 1965 and passed through Columbia and a small group of other labels. And following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, he departed the United States. For the next three years, he lived in Denmark and Sweden and spent his time writing. When he returned to America in 1971, it was as "Eugene McDaniels" that he resumed recording, on Atlantic. After that time, he concentrated on songwriting and publishing, scoring successes in both departments: his song "Compared to What?" was recorded by McCann and also by Roberta Flack, for whom he then wrote "Reverend Lee" and the immensely successful "Feel Like Makin’ Love," which reached number one on the Billboard, Cash Box, and Record World charts in 1974. He also produced numerous other artists, including Jimmy Smith, Merry Clayton, and Nancy Wilson. Gene McDaniels died in his sleep at home in Maine on July 29, 2011. ~ Bruce Eder
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Best Of Gene McDaniels, A Hundred Pounds Of Clay

1. A Hundred Pounds Of Clay

3. Curiosity

4. A Tear

5. Tower Of Strength

6. He's Got My Sympathy

7. A Miracle

8. Master Puppeteer

9. Chip Chip

10. Another Tear Falls

11. Point Of No Return

12. Spanish Lace

13. Blow Out The Sun

14. Laugh Right In My Face

16. The Puzzle

17. You Were Sent For Me To Love

18. It's A Lonely Town (Lonely Without You)

19. False Friends

20. Strange Neighborhood

21. Anyone Else

22. (There Goes) The Forgotten Man

23. Walk With A Winner

24. Will It Last Forever

25. Hang On (Just A Little Bit Longer)

x

Track List: Best Of Gene McDaniels, Vol. 1

1. In Times Like These

2. Like Someone In Love

3. The River And I

4. Look To Your Heart

5. Deed I Do

6. Never Like This

7. Love Me Tender

8. The Facts Of Life

9. A Hundred Pounds Of Clay

10. At The End Of A Rainbow

11. Til Ther Was You

12. Cry

13. Around The World

14. Tammy

15. Love Is A Many Splendored Thing

16. All The Way

17. A Tear

18. Another Tear Falls

x

Track List: Best Of Gene McDaniels, Vol. 2

1. Love Is Here To Stay

2. Next Spring

3. It Might As Well Be Spring

4. The Soune Of Music

5. How Long Has This Been Going On

6. And The Angels Sing

7. Autumn Leaves

8. When I Was A Child

9. It's All In The Game

10. Are You Sincere

11. Send For Me

12. You Belong To Me

13. Golden Earrings

14. Secret Love

15. Mona Lisa

16. From Here To Eternity

17. Tower Of Strength

x

Track List: Best Of Gene McDaniels, Vol. 3

1. When I Fall In Love

2. Look For The Silver Lining

3. Yesterdays

4. Gone With The Wind

5. Green Door

6. In A Sentimental Mood

7. The High And The Mighty

8. Sometimes I'm Happy

9. Take Good Care Of Her

10. Portrait Of My Love

11. Angels In The Sky

12. Make A Present Of You

13. Three Coins In The Fountain

14. Eternally

15. The Long Hot Summer

16. Young At Heart

17. Chip Chip

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Pandora is the thing to happen to the music world because I love the the fifths and sixty
Report as inappropriate
A hundred pound of clay . the best song.
Report as inappropriate
I discovered Gene McDaniels in the late 1960's. A friend had a chevy that he let me borrow and he had removed the glovebox and installed a 4 track, yes a 4 track. I found a tape of Gene McDaniels and I cruised and listened and I really loved his sound and lyrics. I have never forgotten his sound. God Bless You Gene McDaniels.
Report as inappropriate
A wonderful singer that brought many great songs for our listening pleasure.
Report as inappropriate
Sad, but he died yesterday. I was 13 in 1961 when I discovered him.
Report as inappropriate
fiddles5
Gene is still recording! He has several albums not listed here. His release, Screams and Whispers, I believe was 1995. Soon to be released is Evolution's Child, with Ted Brancato on piano, and Ron Carter on a couple of the tracks. His new website is at www.genemcda n i e l s . c o m but there's only one page there right now. The new recording will be released this year, 2009. Coming Soon!
Report as inappropriate
t_heath
What a great strong voice...can' t believe he didn't last all that long
Report as inappropriate
I remember 1961 with fondness. I was 11 when this song came out, and I have liked it ever since. I agree with the previous comment about respect for women and reverence for God. To me, his music will never grow old.
Report as inappropriate
I agree with the previous comment. Gene McDaniels' songs not only show respect for women, but in my case they take me back to my adolescence.
Back in 1961, I was going through changes at 11, and this reminds me
of the good times during that year.
Report as inappropriate
These men sang with respect for women. Unlike these knuckleheads today. That only view women as sex objects. And you can actually understand the lyrics. Also, a reverance for God as well.

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