Bobby Caldwell, the soulful singer and songwriter behind R&B hits like What You Won’t Do For Love and Open Your Eyes, has died, according to a statement from his wife, Mary Caldwell.
He was 71.
“Bobby passed away here at home. I held him tight in my arms as he left us. I am forever heartbroken. Thanks to all of you for your many prayers over the years,” Mary Caldwell’s statement, shared on his verified Twitter account, read in part.
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She said Caldwell had been dealing with health issues for some time.
Caldwell’s hit song “What You Won’t Do For Love” hit the Billboard 100 charts after its release in 1978. Artists including Tupac Shakur, Common and John Legend have all sampled his music.
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Questlove, who collaborated with Common on The Light, which sampled Caldwell’s Open Your Eyes, shared a tribute to the late artist on Instagram, describing how he tried to work with him over the years.
“Man such a missed opportunity to meet a legend,” Questlove wrote. “Thank you for your voice and gift.”
His last record, Cool Uncle, released in 2015 featured a duet with British singer Jessie Ware.
She took to social media to pay tribute.
“Just landed in New York to the sad news that Bobby Caldwell – one of the greatest – has passed away,” she captioned the post.
“What a loss. Sampha and I covered ‘What You Won’t Do For Love’ and I was lucky enough to be invited to sing on his last record. I never met him, but I feel very honoured to have been on a track with him.
“I will be belting out ‘Open Your Eyes’ today and remembering the legend.”
Other fans of Caldwell shared memories on social media, with one musician writing, “Thank you for sharing Bobby with us and the rest of the world, which brought to it so much joy and beauty. He will be missed and his memory will be a blessing.”
Caldwell was born in New York and grew up in Miami and got a big break as a guitarist for Little Richard.
He credited the cultural diversity of his hometown, with its Haitian, reggae, Latin, pop, and R&B influences, with is ability to perform music across genres.
“Most of the wonderful people I’ve gotten to know in the radio business, they all say the same thing. It’s like a universal language, and should have no barriers,” Caldwell said of music in a 2005 interview with NPR.
Beyond his solo career, he also wrote hit songs for others artists like The Next Time I Fall for Amy Grant and Peter Cetera.
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