28 November 1944
Georgetown, Demerara-Mahaica, Guyana
27 September 2012 (aged 67)
Ronald Bertram Aloysius "R. B." Greaves III (November 28, 1943, Georgetown, Guyana, - September 27, 2012) was a singer who had chart success in 1969 with the pop single "Take a Letter Maria". A #2 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, this single sold one million copies and earned a gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. Greaves also had a Top 40 pop hit a year later with "Always Something There to Remind Me".
Greaves was born in 1943 on the United States Air Force base at Georgetown, Guyana. A nephew of Sam Cooke, he grew up on a Seminole Indian reservation in the United States, but moved to England in 1963. Greaves had built a career both in the Caribbean and in Great Britain, where he performed under the name Sonny Childe with his group The TNTs. His debut single "Take a Letter Maria", released under the name R.B. Greaves, had been recorded by both Tom Jones and Stevie Wonder before the author recorded it himself at the insistence of Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegün, who produced it. The song is the story of a man who learns of his wife's infidelity the night before and dictates a letter of separation to Maria, his ostensibly Hispanic secretary. The song has a distinct Latin flavor, complete with a mariachi-style horn section. This disc stayed in the Billboard chart for 15 weeks, selling a million copies with the gold record from the R.I.A.A. on 11 December 1969. By 1970 sales of the record totalled 2.5 million.
Greaves recorded a series of cover versions as follow-ups, including Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me" and Procol Harum's "A Whiter Shade of Pale". Greaves left the label in the 1970s in favor of Bareback Records, and then signed to Sunflower Records. His only chart release for the latter label was "Margie, Who's Watching the Baby". Greaves passed away in Los Angeles, California on September 27, 2012 at the age of 68.
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