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Edwin Starr

Rightly revered for the storming protest classic "War," Edwin Starr didn't really need another hit to achieve legendary status in soul circles, so electrifying was that single performance. Starr first made his name as "Agent Double-O-Soul," and when his contract was transferred to Motown, he instantly became one of the roughest, toughest vocalists on the crossover-friendly label, with his debt to James Brown and the Stax soul shouters. Even if nothing else ever matched the phenomenon of "War," Starr had several Top Ten hits on the R&B charts over the late '60s and early '70s, and also enjoyed a brief renaissance during the disco era.

Starr was born Charles Hatcher in Nashville, TN, on January 21, 1942 (his cousin was deep soul singer and songwriter Roger Hatcher). He grew up in Cleveland and formed a doo wop quintet called the FutureTones while still in high school. They won numerous local talent competitions and even recorded a single for a small label, but Starr was drafted into the military in 1960, stalling the group's momentum. When he returned in 1962, he tried to get things going again, but to no avail; instead, he wound up joining Bill Doggett's group as a featured vocalist in 1963. Two years later, Starr wrote what he felt was a surefire hit in the spy-themed "Agent Double-O-Soul," and left Doggett's band to sign with Ric Tic Records and settle in Detroit. "Agent Double-O-Soul" hit the R&B Top Ten later in 1965, and just missed the pop Top 20. Starr capitalized on the song's novelty appeal by appearing on-stage in a spy costume complete with toy gun, but proved he was no one-trick pony by returning to the Top Ten a year later with "Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S.)."

Motown head Berry Gordy subsequently bought out Ric Tic and took over its artist roster, with Starr the crown jewel. Contract negotiations took some time, but Starr rebounded with his biggest hit yet in 1969's "25 Miles," which reached the Top Ten on both the pop and R&B charts. The follow-up, "I'm Still a Struggling Man," wasn't as successful, and Starr was something of a forgotten man for several months. When he returned to the studio, it was with producer Norman Whitfield, who'd been reinventing the Temptations as a psychedelic soul act. Whitfield had co-written a strident anti-war protest song, "War," for the Temps' Psychedelic Shack LP, and in spite of growing demand for a single release, Motown didn't want the group to take such an aggressive stance. Whitfield recut "War" with Starr, and the resulting version was arguably the most incendiary song Motown ever released. It zoomed to the top of the pop charts in 1970, and its chorus -- powered by Starr's guttural delivery -- remains a catch phrase even today.

The follow-up single, "Stop the War Now," was blatantly derivative, but made the R&B Top Five anyway, and Starr went on to land another significant hit with "Funky Music Sho' Nuff Turns Me On." In 1974, he handled the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film Hell Up in Harlem, a sequel to the James Brown-scored Black Caesar (Brown had originally been slated to do the follow-up as well). The lack of promotion signaled that Starr's days with Motown were likely numbered; he charted again in 1975 with "Pain," and bade farewell to the label with "Who's Right or Wrong." He recorded albums for small labels, including 1975's Free to Be Myself on Granite and 1977's Afternoon Sunshine on GTO, before finding a new home on 20th Century in 1978. Here he briefly reinvented himself as a disco singer, scoring his biggest hits in years with 1979's "Contact" and "H.A.P.P.Y. Radio"; his final release with the label came in 1980.

Starr moved to the U.K. during the '80s, recording a Marvin Gaye tribute album for Streetwave and a handful of singles for Hippodrome over 1985-1986. His participation in the Ferry Aid charity project led to a deal with Virgin and a session with the hot production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, but he didn't take to their high-tech dance-pop style and instead moved to Ian Levine's Motown revival label Motorcity from 1989-1991. Later he guested on dance remakes of his past hits by Utah Saints ("Funky Music") and Three Amigos ("25 Miles"), but otherwise recorded little until his death in 2003. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: I Love Edwin Starr (Live)

1. War (Live)

2. 25 Miles (Live)

3. Ain't No Stopping Us Now

4. Happy Radio (Live)

5. Contact (Live)

6. Time (Live)

7. Stop Her On Sight (Sos) [Live]

8. Headline News (Live)

9. Darling Darling Baby (Live)

10. Agent Double-O Soul (Live)

11. My Girl (Live)

12. Back Street (Live)

13. Let's Stay Together (Live)

14. Smooth (Live)

15. Patch Up (Live)

16. I Have Faith In You (Live)

x

Track List: Celebrate: Edwin Starr

1. War (Live)

2. 25 Miles

3. Dream Big

4. Give You Back The Loving

5. Headline News (Live)

6. I Heard It Through The Grapevine

7. You Won't Lead Me Into Temptation

8. Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.)

9. There You Go

10. Darling Darling Baby

11. Shy

12. It Ain't Fair

13. Hollywood Blues

14. Alive

15. You Can Have It

16. (On The) Boulevard Of Broken Hearts

x

Track List: Live From Germany

1. Contact

2. H.A.P.P.Y. Radio

3. War

4. Twenty-Five Miles

5. Celebration

6. Don't Stop Till You Get Enough

7. Celebration Reprise

8. Time

x

Track List: Edwin Starr Live In Concert

1. That's The Way I Like It

2. War

3. I Heard It Through The Grapevine

4. Wonderful World

5. Please Don't Go

6. Na Na Hey Hey

7. Contact

8. Sweet Like Chocolate

9. H.A.P.P.Y Radio

10. Twenty Five Miles

11. Celebration

12. Don't Stop Till You Get Enough

13. Celebration

14. Contact

15. H.A.P.P.Y Radio

16. War

17. Twenty Five Miles

18. Celebration

19. Don't Stop Till You Get Enough

20. Celebration ( Reprise)

21. Time

x

Track List: Rumours

1. Smooth

2. Did I Jump (Or Fall In Love)

3. Dream Big

4. (On The ) Boulevard Of Broken Hearts

5. Bedtime Story

6. Can't Stop ( Thinking About You)

7. Give You Back The Lovin

8. Just Another Fool In Love

9. (Get Up) Whirlpool Of Love

10. Rumours

11. Patch Up

12. Wait For Me

13. Old Flame

14. Summer Madness

15. Show You Love

16. Long Night

17. If It Could Only Be

x

Track List: 25 Miles

1. Intro

2. 25 Miles

3. S.O.S

4. War

5. My Girl

6. Let's Stay Together

7. Contact

8. H.A.P.P.Y. Radio

9. Agent 00 Soul

10. Headline News

11. Back Street

12. Time

13. I Have Faith In You

14. Smooth

15. Patch Up

16. Darling Darling Baby

x

Track List: Grapevine

1. It Ain't Fair

2. Grapevine

3. Soul Singer

4. Rendevous

5. Love Is My Name

x

Track List: Ain't No Stopping Us Now

1. Alive

2. Our Day Will Come

3. You Can Have It

4. Counterfeit

5. Angel

6. Boulevard Of Broken Hearts

7. Passer By

8. Up And Over

9. Ain't No Stopping Us Now

10. Time

11. Where Do We Go To From Here

12. Get Up Whirlpool (Of Love)

13. Can't Stop Thinking About You

14. Loves Growing

x

Track List: Soul Starr

1. Don't Take My Kindness For Weakness

2. Twenty-Five Miles

3. Where Is The Sound

4. Girl, You're My Everything

5. Darling, Darling Baby

6. Tit For Tat

7. Key To Love

8. That Was God's Plan

9. Let's Fall In Love Tonight

10. Memory Lane

11. Up And Away

12. There You Go

13. Walking In Rhythm

14. Teardrops

15. In The Nick Of Time

16. One And One Makes Two

17. Real True Love

18. Realese This Love

x

Track List: Edwin Starr Hero Of Soul

1. Where Is The Sound?

2. One And One Makes Two

3. Just Another Fool In Love

4. There You Go

5. Release This Love

6. Writing On The Wall

7. Key To Love

8. Twenty-Five Miles

9. Let's Fall In Love Tonight

10. You Made A Believer Out Of Me

11. Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.)

12. Breaking Down The Walls Of Heartache

x

Track List: 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection

1. Agent Double-O-Soul

2. Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.)

4. I Am The Man For You Baby

5. Oh How Happy

6. War

7. Stop The War Now

8. Time

9. Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On

10. There You Go

11. Contact

x

Track List: Early Classics

1. Stop Her On Sight

3. Headline News

4. My Weakness Is You

5. If My Heart Could Tell The Story

6. Way Over There

7. You Beat Me To The Punch

8. Oh How Happy

9. Love Is My Destination

10. Time Is Passin' By

11. Mighty Good Lovin'

12. I Am The Man For You Baby

14. I Am Your Man

15. Backyard Lovin' Man

16. Twenty-Five Miles

17. She Should Have Been Home

x

Track List: Very Best Of Edwin Starr

1. Twenty-Five Miles

2. Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.)

3. Agent Double-O Soul

4. Back Street

5. Headline News

6. I'll Love You Forever

7. I'm Still A Struggling Man

8. If My Heart Could Tell A Story

9. War

10. Stop The War Now

11. Time

12. Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On

13. There You Go

14. Easin' In

x

Track List: Early Edwin Starr Hits

1. 25 Miles

2. Agent Double-O Soul (Live)

3. Back Street (Live)

4. Stop Her On Sight (S.O.S.) (2011)

5. Headline News (Live)

6. Time (Live)

7. I Heard It Through The Grapevine

x

Track List: Superstar Series Vol. 3

1. Twenty Five Miles

2. Running Back And Forth

3. Big Papa (From "Hell Up In Harlem" Soundtrack)

4. There You Go

5. War (Single Version)

6. Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On (Single Version/Mono)

7. I'm Still A Struggling Man

8. Time

9. Take Me Clear From Here (Single Version)

10. Ain't It Hell Up In Harlem (From "Hell Up In Harlem" Soundtrack)

x

Track List: Hell Up In Harlem (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

1. Ain't It Hell Up In Harlem

2. Easin' In

3. Big Papa

4. Love Never Dies (Helen's Love Theme)

5. Don't It Feel Good To Be Free

6. Runnin'

7. Jennifer's Love Theme

8. Airport Chase

9. Mama Should Be Here Too

10. Like We Used To Do

11. Ain't It Hell Up In Harlem (Instrumental)

Comments

Report as inappropriate
alexandraabe l l a 1 7
❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
This man had amazing pipes for sure. Why MOTOWN never hooked him up with a great songwriter and ride that horse to the finish line, i'll never understand.
Report as inappropriate
Saw them at Winterland wayyyy back when
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❤❤❤❤❤
Report as inappropriate
cathyrobinso n 7 3 8
Damn great song thanks PANDORA!!!
Report as inappropriate
I loved his deep soulful voice. 25 Miles, and War are all time classics.
Report as inappropriate
Hey dumbass agent is spelled agent PENDEJO ����
Report as inappropriate
The Man who took a stand against WAR E.Starr
*978*4m14y~
Report as inappropriate
tsuyoshi98
Haha pandora missed spelled agent haha agaent don't they have autocorrect i mean that's what ruined my relationship
Report as inappropriate
Keep on walkin on...ah ha ahh aha aha aha...
Report as inappropriate
Great political activist, message still applies...
Report as inappropriate
Pandora is f**kin with me right ; I'm on the war station and I'm hearing this cat edwin starr rap sing about war on the day tha f**kin mayans says I dunno bout 1000 yrs ago the worlds gonna end yeah okay panda good one !
Report as inappropriate
cool
Report as inappropriate
MUSICA DISCO 1979 GUATEMALA CENTRAL AMERICA
Report as inappropriate
erico22003
B**tards of the trials of US
Report as inappropriate
Thank you so much Mr. Keith & Mr. James below for leaving those comments. They were extremely interesting! I appreciate you taking the time to leave them!
Report as inappropriate
wkillian
How did he die. I loved his music.
Report as inappropriate
WHEN I WAS LIVING ID DETROIT EDWIN STARR LIVED ACROSS THE STREET FORM ME. WHEN MY FATHER WAS SHOT AND RECEIVED POWDER BURNS IN HIS FACE MR. STARR WAS A VERY HELPFUL AND CONSOLING PERSON TO MY MOTHER AND I. THE NEIGHBORS DID'T BOTHER HIM BECAUSE WE KNEW THAT HE WANTED HIS PRIVACY.HE WAS ONE OF THE NICEST CELEBRITIES THAT I EVER MET. STILL TO THIS DAY HIS HOUSE IS KNOWN AS EDWIN STARRS HOUSE.
Report as inappropriate
I was 14 years old when this song came out <25 MILES> i first heard it a barber shopin Diego Martin Trinidad W.I. Where the barbers stopped to turn up the radio to hear Edwin's new song. I ran home to tell my brother who heard it at home and with the excitment we just started saying the same thing that i just heard the one of the best songs which we kept as a precious memory all these years. R.I.P. MR STARR.. YOU GAVE OUR FAMILY MUCH LOVE !!!!

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