Acclaimed Florida R&B powerhouse Charles Bradley, whose raw, pained voice earned him the nickname the Screaming Eagle of Soul, has died of cancer at 68, his representatives announced Saturday.
Bradley, who was born in Brooklyn but raised in Gainesville, lived a difficult live, one marked by broken familiies, homelessness and health issues. He spent years in clubs impersonating his idol, James Brown.
Only late in life did Bradley find international success on his own. It came through the retro-soul-focused label Daptone Records (Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Lee Fields), which released his acclaimed debut album, No Time for Dreaming, in 2011, when Bradley was already in his 60s. His most recent LP, Changes, came out in 2016.
As recently as last year, he told Rolling Stone that he was still working through all the pain his life had brought -- a story told in the 2012 documentary Soul of America.
"I'm in a growth," he said. "I will say I'm not where I want to be at, but I'm in a growth to try and show the people who made this possible, who helped me, that I'm not giving in. I'm just going to keep pushing with my love and I hope that one day y'all can see that I'm for real."
Bradley continued to tour heavily after his diagnosis with stomach cancer last year, but recently canceled all his upcoming dates as he battled the illness. He had been in talks to return to Tampa Bay for the first time since the 2016 Gasparilla Music Festival, but the cancer made that impossible.
Artists from all genres paid tribute to Bradley on social media, including Tampa-raised Benjamin Booker, who wrote on Instagram: "I've never seen anyone do what he could do with an audience -- whole crowd was in tears. Seeing him was special and you knew it when it was happening."
For more on the life and legacy of Charles Bradley, check out Rolling Stone's obituary.
-- Jay Cridlin