Percy Sledge (born 25 November 1941 in Leighton, Alabama; died 14 April 2015 in Baton Rouge) was an American R&B and soul performer who most notably recorded the single "When a Man Loves a Woman" in 1966, an international top 40 hit that the RIAA has certified as gold. Having achieved his best successes in the mid-to-late 60s and early 70s with a series of emotional soul songs, in his later years he received the Rhythm and Blues Foundation's Career Achievement Award and was inducted in 2005 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Percy Sledge worked in the fields in Leighton before he worked as an orderly at Colbert County Hospital in Sheffield. By the mid-1960s, Sledge was touring the Southeast with the Esquires Combo on weekends and working at the hospital. A former patient who was a friend of producer Quin Ivy introduced the two, an audition followed, and Sledge was signed to a recording contract.
Sledge's smooth voice was perfect for the series of soul ballads produced by Ivy and Marlin Greene, which rock critic Dave Marsh called "emotional classics for romantics of all ages."
"When a Man Loves a Woman" was the first song recorded under the contract (released in 1966), and it became not only an international hit (it reached #1 in the US) but was also the first gold record released by Atlantic Records. The magnificent soul anthem became the cornerstone of Sledge's career and was followed by "Warm and Tender Love," "Take Time to Know Her," and "Cover Me."
Sledge charted with "I'll Be Your Everything" and "Sunshine" during the 1970s, and has become an international concert favorite throughout the world, especially in the Netherlands, Germany, and on the African continent.
His career enjoyed a renaissance in the 1980s when "When a Man Loves a Woman" re-entered the Top 10 in the UK after being used in a Levi's commercial.
Sledge was an inaugural Rhythm and Blues Foundation Pioneer Award honoree in 1989. In 2005, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.