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Arthur Conley

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Arthur Lee Conley (January 4, 1946 – November 17, 2003) was an American soul singer. He is best known for the 1967 hit Sweet Soul Music which shot to the number two spot on both the pop and R&B charts in America, earning Conley the number eleven male artist ranking for 1967. The song pays homage to great soul singers like Lou Rawls, Wilson Pickett and James Brown.

Conley was born in McIntosh County, Georgia and grew up in Atlanta. He first recorded in 1959 as the lead singer of Arthur & the Corvets. With this group he released three singles from 1963 through 1964 (Poor Girl, I Believe, and Flossie Mae) on the Atlanta-based label National Recording Company.

In 1964 he moved to a new label (Ru-Jac Records) and released I’m a Lonely Stranger. When Otis Redding heard it he asked Conley to record a new version, which became the second release on Redding’s own fledgling label Jotis Records.

Conley met Otis Redding in 1967. After this meeting Redding took Conley under his care and taught him the fine points of the music business. Together they rewrote the Sam Cooke song Yeah Man into Sweet Soul Music, which at Redding’s insistence was released on the Atco-distributed label Fame Records. It proved a massive hit and went to the number two position on the U.S. charts and the Top Ten across much of Europe. It is said that Conley never accepted Otis Redding’s death of December 1967.

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