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Lest We Forget

Posted on April 2, 2003

Edwin Starr

Original Performer – “War”

1942-2003

Edwin Starr, whose gritty, gutteral protest anthem “War” still resonates, has died. The soul-belting singer suffered what was believed to be a fatal heart attack Wednesday, April 2, 2003 at his home in Nottingham, England. He was 61. Born Charles Hatcher in Nashville and raised in Cleveland, Starr launched a doo-wop group called the Future Tones while he was still a teenager. The group scored a deal with a small local label and recorded one single before Starr was drafted in 1960. After a three-year stint, Starr relocated to Detroit. As the story goes, a Motor City promoter heard Starr singing and told him, “Kid, you’re going to be a star.” That’s how he wound up with his stage name. He landed at Detroit’s Ric-Tic Records, a Motown copycat, and soon scored his first big hit, “Agent Double-O-Soul,” which peaked at number 21 on the pop charts in 1965. That was followed by “Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S).”

Ric-Tic was eventually gobbled up by Motown. Starr’s first single for the company was the classic “25 Miles,” a Top 10 hit in 1969, followed by the lament “I’m Still a Strugglin’ Man.” Then came the anti-Vietnam “War” in 1970. Originally intended as a Temptations tune, but deemed too controversial for the group, the single rocketed to number one. It spent 13 weeks on the charts, three in the top slot, and, in 1988, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

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