Curtis Mayfield was born on the 3rd of june 1942 in Chicago, Illinois, where he quickly
absorbed the music of that area, which consisted of the local blues, gospel and soul
musicians. He was leading his first group, The Alfatones , before he was a teenager.
When the Mayfield family moved to Chicagos north side in 1956, Curtis found himself
a new friend in Jerry Butler. Butler wanted Curtis to join him in a group called The
Roosters , which consisted of Arthur and Richard Brooks, and Sam Gooden. The
quintet later changed their name to The Impressions , and they had their first hit in
1958, For your precious love . In 1961, Mayfield had moved to New York, the
group cutted Gypsy woman which re-established the group, after some years of
hard feelings between the members and the record company. Mayfield was now the
groups lead singer, utilising his unique vocal style on several Impressions singles.
A steady string of soul anthems followed, Im so proud, Keep on Pushing,
People get ready, Were a winner, Mighty, mighty. The group had a strong
gospel flavour in their sound, although it wasnt purely gospel. As Mayfield puts it,
They were church songs, the difference was i left the word God out.
In 1970 Mayfield left The Impressions for his solo career. His first album, Curtis
contained the classic Move on up which was his only UK hit. Curtis Live!
followed, which contained some material from The Impressions period. It was
recorded at New Yorks Bitter End, and later the same year Roots followed. His
early records are my favourite ones, especially Curtis Live! which is a wonderful
record with lots of warm soul songs, and funky percussion by master Henry Gibson
In 1972, Curtis released the soundtrack album Superfly which went to sell over a
million copies, and it was a really good album in its own right. It recieved four Grammy
awards. By now Mayfield continued to record new albums, at the same time as he
was producing with Gladys Knight & The Pips, Aretha Franklin and The Staple