"When a Man Loves a Woman” is perhaps one of the greatest soul ballads ever written. A true classic, the song is a staple of American popular music. Percy Sledge emerged on the pop charts in the 1960s as the balladeer who sang this song with such conviction, passion and longing. He was one of many Atlantic Records artists who helped transform the airwaves with timeless soul songs. His legacy is central to the development of R&B as a musical genre.
"When a Man Loves a Woman” became Atlantic Record’s first single to reach RIAA-certified gold status. The legend behind this achievement is a great music industry tale. While still living in his home state of Alabama, Sledge worked odd jobs during the day and performed music at local clubs and parties by night. Quin Ivy, a local DJ, heard Sledge singing the melody of "When a Man Loves a Woman” and decided to record the song. Eventually the recording made its way to Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records. Legend has it that upon first listen Wexler immediately called Ahmet Ertegun by phone to tell him that he’d found “a single that was going to pay for our whole summer.”
“When a Man Loves a Woman” was a smash hit and a landmark record for Percy Sledge. Sledge went on to produce many more albums and singles for Atlantic Records throughout the 1960s. In 2005, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He continued to perform on stages all across the globe until his passing. Percy Sledge died on April 14, 2015, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was 74 years old.
Atlantic Records was built on classic songs and the artists who could bring those songs to life. Percy Sledge’s contributions to this legacy will be forever cherished.
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