Sunday, July 24, 2005

SOULOBIT: Eugene Record

The death has been announced of Eugene Record, leader of the Chi-Lites.

Coming together in Chicago in 1959, the close-harmony quintet of Record, Marshall Thompson, Creadel 'Red' Jones, Robert Lester and Clarence Johnson were originally known as the Hi-Lites but added the C to reflect their hometown when they made the stepchange from local heroes to national renown. The band would undergo a bunch of personnel changes as they started to amass a mixture of R&B and crossover pop hits - including For God's Sake Give More Power To The People, Oh Girl and There Will Never Be Any Peace. The band's talent to mix feel-good love songs with political tunes which brought a hard-edged message to a soft soul sound marks them as one of the most interesting points at the convergence of social action and good times.

Record quit the group after their label, Brunswick, hit a finacially rocky patch in the mid-70s, and quickly signed to Warner Brothers where he began a solo career; he rejoined in 1980 for a reunion of the original line-up (bar Johnson) only to leave again in 1985. Record started to concentrate more heavily on gospel music following his second departure - his 1997 Let Him In album was warmly received, even amongst those less convinced by the message than by the music. In 2002, Record made one final performance with the band that made his name for Chris Gegedus and D A Pennebaker's Only The Strong Survive.

Record has been fighting cancer for some time; the 64-year old is survived by his wife, Jackie.