Sunday, March 19, 2006


Soul singer King Floyd III has died, his record label has announced.

The son of King Floyd Senior and Little Pearl Dawkins, King was one of many young singers of his generation who took their first musical steps on the streets of New Orleans. He was in the process of being lifted from the streets to stardom via a paid gig at the Sho-Bar on Bourbon Street when he was drafted into the army.

Discharged in 1963, King relocated to New York where he signed with Shaw Artists' roster of R&B acts. It was during this period that he started to write as well, enabling him to hook up with Jimmy Holiday in LA. Their co-written Walkin and Thinkin wound up as a b-side to a release on Uptown (a fairly obscure Motown imprint) but failed to get anywhere; Floyd got a second chance with the song after signing to the Original Sound label run by Art LeBoe. Even as an aside, though, the song failed to catch.

Fellow New Orleanean Harold Battiste managed to get King a contract with Pulsar. A series of singles, and an album (1967's A Man In Love) were released and disappeared almost as quickly. King wrote for other acts on the label, but, losing heart, decided to return home. A Man In Love's failure seems even more puzzling from a 2006 perspective, as it included collaborations with Dr John.

Back in New Orleans, and working full-time for the US Postal Service, he met up with Wardell Quezergue. This was more a stroke of luck than Wardell's situation might have suggested (thousands of pounds in debt and just having closed his NOLA label); however, he'd pulled a deal which had enabled him to get into studios for free. During
one of these buckshee sessions, King recorded What Our Love Needs in a single take. Originally a b-side, public clamour made it first an a-side, then a national hit. The song wound up at the top of Billboard's year-end R&B chart for 1970.

There would be some smaller hits, but Floyd proved harder to like in success than in obscurity and it seems that the struggle to match the success of What Our Love Needs broke the spirit. However, Floyd continued to work, releasing an album, Old Skool Funk in 2000.

King Floyd III died March 6th from a stroke and diabetes. He was 61.

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