Curtis Mayfield

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About Curtis Mayfield

A self-taught singer, guitarist, composer, and producer, Curtis Mayfield was a Chicago soul pioneer and a prominent voice of the civil rights movement. His greatest commercial success came with his 1972 Superfly soundtrack. • After learning from his mother how to play the piano, Mayfield taught himself how to play the guitar at 10 years old. • Four years later, he joined soul band The Impressions (originally The Roosters) as a songwriter and composer. He eventually became the group’s centerpiece. • The Impressions scored 15 Top 40 hits in the ’60s with Mayfield at the helm. These include ’60s anthems like 1964’s “Keep On Pushing” and 1965’s “People Get Ready,” which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998. • Mayfield left the impressions in 1970 and topped Billboard’s R&B charts with his solo debut album, Curtis. Featuring the single “Move On Up”—a No. 12 hit in the UK—the album addressed sociopolitical issues impacting African Americans. • His soundtrack for the 1972 blaxploitation film Superfly reached No. 1 on Billboard’s pop and R&B albums charts. The album yielded two gold-selling hits: “Freddy’s Dead” and “Superfly.” • Following a 1990 stage accident, Mayfield became paralyzed from his neck down. He recorded the vocals for his 1996 album New World Order while laying on his back. • In 1999, Mayfield was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame, his final living achievements. • Mayfield died in December 1999 of type 2 diabetes complications. He was 57.

Chicago, IL, United States
June 3, 1942
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