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Unfortunately we have sad news to report for fans of 50s/60s/70s R&B group The Dells.

Charles “Chuck” Barksdale, the famed bass singer of the legendary ensemble has passed away. He was 84.

Marshall Thompson of the Chi-Lites, another legendary Chicago group, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Barksdale, who had been in failing health for quite some time, died Wednesday morning (05-15-19).

“All the 1970s bass singers learned a lot from Charles Barksdale,” Thompson said. “We learned how to sing under them.”

SoulTracks notes that “the Dells will go down in soul music history as a group equally respected for its longevity as for its great music.  A legendary act that moved from doo-wop to jazz to soul for more than 50 years, the Dells managed to stay relevant while musical styles and audiences changed, and created a discography of classic material.”

If you’re a also a fan of actor/director Robert Townsend, you’re probably aware of the fact that The Dells was the group that inspired his classic film “The Five Heartbeats.”

“We lost a giant today,” Townsend reflected about Barksdale  on Facebook, calling the late singer, “the velvet bass voice of The Dells.”

“The Dells were my technical advisers on ‘The Five Heartbeats.’ The real stuff in the film about the music industry came from them and Chuck shared with me so honestly, the good, the bad and the ugly of the music business,” Townsend added. “He will be missed but … I will celebrate his memory by listening to nothing but their hits today!”

In the video below, Townsend helps induct them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:

The Faces Of New School R&B
21 photos

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