Chicago soul man, JAMES BURKE has died. A member of the family group, the Five Stairsteps, James’ sad passing was announced by his brother, Keni, via Facebook. No further details were given.
The band’s story is familiar to soul fans. Clarence Burke Senior (a detective in the Chicago police department) and his wife Betty coached their five children into a vocal group – the Five Stairsteps. They started out in Chicago in 1965 and through a friendship with Fred Cash of the Impressions they were brought to Curtis Mayfield’s attention. The group were signed to his Windy City label before moving to Buddah. Their biggest hit was, of course, the classic and oft covered ‘O-o-h Child’. The Stairsteps disbanded in the mid 70s with various members – notably Keni Burke – continuing in the business while Clarence Jr. formed a short-lived group The Invisible Man’s Band which included James. Their best-known outing was ‘All Night Long’.