It’s been announced that KEITH “DUKE” BEATON, a member of vocal group, BLUE MAGIC has died. The news was announced by the band’s putative leader Ted Mills. He posted: “Keith Beaton an original member of Blue Magic has been my brother for over 50 years as we travelled performing all over the world. My heart has been ripped out in sadness… My brother Keith Beaton You will surely be missed…as you now sing with the heavenly choir. May you rest in heavenly peace.” No more details are available. Beaton was aged 72.
Blue Magic were formed at Temple University, Philadelphia by Ted Mills (then a student) but to maintain the group he was forced to link up with another local band, Shades Of Love to go on tour to support their first record, ‘Spell’. It seems his original group members didn’t want to go on the road. The “new” Blue Magic were Mills, Vernon Sawyer, Wendell Sawyer, Keith ‘Duke’ Beaton and Richard Pratt. In the mid-70s the group (pacted to Atlantic/Atco) scored a memorable run of hits – most in the smooth, Philly ballad style.
All soul collectors will be familiar with Blue Magic’s catalogue. Sweet soul staples like ‘Look Me Up’, ‘Sideshow’ and ‘Three Ring Circus’ made Blue Magic a major draw. However as tastes changed towards the end of the 70s success became harder to find and the group splintered. Mills pursued a reasonably successful solo career while “Duke” Beaton worked with one Blue Magic incarnation.
The original Blue Magic reunited in 2018 for an episode of TV One’s music biography show, ‘Unsung’. It was the first time they had all been together in nearly three decades, and they thought about the possibility of a full reunion, though it never happened. Band member Richard Pratt died last year.