Gene McDaniels (1935-2011)

The very Best Of Gene McDanielsGene McDaniels, who scored top ten hits in the early-60's with A Hundred Pounds of Clay, Tower of Strength and Chip Chip, passed away on Friday at the age of 76. No further details are available at this time.

McDaniels was born in Kansas City, KS and grew up in Omaha, NB. The son of a minister, his early life was full of gospel music including music by the Swan Silvertones and Soul Stirrers. As a teen, he played saxophone and trumpet but mainly concentrated on developing his four-octave range.

Gene formed his first group at the age of 11, singing gospel but eventually moving more towards pop. His professional debut was with the group the Mississippi Piney Woods Singers who toured to the west coast where he stayed, singing in jazz clubs, with the end result being a short stint working with Les McCann.

Liberty Records noticed and signed McDaniels, teaming him up with Snuff Garrett. The two put together a series of catchy, highly produced hits including A Hundred Pounds of Clay (1961/#3 Pop/#11 R&B), Tower of Strength (1961/#5 Pop/#5 R&B), Chip Chip (1962/#10 Pop) and Point of No Return (1962/#21 Pop/#31 R&B).

As the Stax and Motown sounds started to take over the Soul market, McDaniels' more sophisticated sound started to fade and, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, he moved for a number of years to Denmark and Sweden.

Upon his return to the U.S. in 1971, he started going as Eugene McDaniels and spent most of his time writing for others, including Feel Like Makin' Love (Roberta Flack) and Compared to What (Les McCann and Eddie Harris). He also released two final albums, Natural Juices (1975) and Screams & Whispers (2005). Living his later life as a near-hermit in Maine, Gene's final work was a series of YouTube videos featuring his music and comments on his life.

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