LOS ANGELES (AP) — Clarence Burke Jr., lead singer of the group the Five Stairsteps that sang the 1970 hit “O-o-h Child,” has died. He was 64.

Burke died on Sunday — a day after his birthday — in Marietta, Ga., where he lived, said Joe Marno, his friend and manager.

The cause of his death was not disclosed.

Formed in Chicago in 1965, the Five Stairsteps included Burke, three of his brothers and a sister. They owed their name to their mother, who said that they looked like stairsteps when they stood beside each other in order of age, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Burke, the eldest brother, was the group’s producer and choreographer, played guitar and wrote many of the songs. He wrote the group’s first single, “You Waited Too Long.” He was not yet 17 when it rose to No. 6 on Billboard’s R&B charts in 1966.

Other hits included “World of Fantasy,” ”Don’t Change Your Love” and “From Us to You.”

However, the group’s biggest hit was 1970’s “O-o-h Child,” written by Stan Vincent. Its signature refrain croons “o-o-h child” and promises that “things are gonna get easier.”

The song has been covered many times and has repeatedly been used in movies and TV shows.

Rolling Stone magazine ranked it No. 402 on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.

The group disbanded in the late 1970s but the brothers briefly reformed as the Invisible Man’s Band and had a 1980 success with the dance single “All Night Thing.”

In recent years, Burke performed solo concerts and continued to record with family and friends, according to a family memorial.

(Photo: Clarence Burke Jr. of the Five Stairsteps is shown seated, center.)

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6 thoughts on “Five Stairsteps Singer Clarence Burke Jr. Dies

  1. Kevin on said:

    Per your comment on the Photo, I must correct you on your identification of Clarence Burke Jr. as being the one seated, Clarence Burke Jr. is the one standing behind sister Alohe, with the patch over his eye, and Kenneth “Keni” Burke is the one seated.

  2. dottie on said:

    the five stairsteps were so smooth in their sound. i’m sure the Sylvers were influenced with their sound. the harmonies were tight! beautiful music!

  3. da Creature on said:

    Funny how the Five Stairsteps didn’t take off like the Jackson 5, especially with their associations with people like Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions, Billy Preston, & George Harrison. Ooh Child was a HUGE hit in the 1970’s, this song should’ve sent them to the stars. But it didn’t.

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