Soul sensation Charles Bradley has died. The “Take It As It Comes” singer—whose life took a long, circuitous route to musical success—was 68.
Bradley was already 62 when he released his first album, No Time For Dreaming, on Daptone Records in 2011. The years before that were famously difficult ones: living on the streets as a teenager, working as a handyman, a plumber, and even a James Brown impersonator, playing small gigs whenever stage time was available. Bradley’s hard-scrabble story was nearly as compelling as his voice, which channeled the power of classic soul and funk successfully into a modern context. Listening to Bradley sing, there’s no trace of retro-reinvention or reimagination; the man simply loved to sing soul, the stuff he listened to in his youth, and injected with a lifetime’s worth of steadily accrued showmanship and pain. His albums, and his voice, were time capsules that transcended nostalgia, provoking not “Hey, remember this?” but “Oh god, why did we ever forget?”
Bradley eventually released three records with Daptone, the most recent—Changes, named for a mournful soul cover of a Black Sabbath song—coming in 2016. He was forced to cancel his tour for the album last October, after being diagnosed with the stomach cancer that ultimately killed him.