'War' Singer Dies at 61
Apr 3, 6:35 AM EST
LONDON (AP) -- Edwin Starr, the soul singer who produced No. 1 Motown hits such as "War," died of an apparent heart attack Wednesday, his manager said. He was 61.
Starr, who lived in England, died at his home near the central city of Nottingham, said manager Lilian Kyle.
Last year, Starr-from the Motown stable and similar in style to James Brown-performed at the wedding of Liza Minnelli and David Gest in New York. He also had sung live with Bruce Springsteen.
Born Charles Hatcher in Nashville, Tenn., Starr formed his first group, the Future Tones, in 1957, recording one single before his three-year army service. In 1965, he was offered a solo deal following two years of touring with another band.
Early hits included "Agent Double-O Soul" and "Stop Her on Sight (S.O.S)."
But his biggest success came with "War," a No. 1 hit in 1970 during a time of growing anti-Vietnam War protests. Other top 10 hits included "Contact" and "H.A.P.P.Y. Radio."
Starr, who made a brief comeback during the disco craze, later spent most of his time touring Europe on the oldies circuit.
Last weekend, he performed at two shows in Stuttgart, Germany.
Suzi Quatro, a '70s rock star who had known Starr since she was a teenager in Detroit, praised him Wednesday.
"He was the best," she said. "There was nobody better on stage, and he was the nicest man you could ever wish to meet."
Rainer Haas, Quatro's husband and the promoter of the Stuttgart shows, said: "He was just superb. He played to 16,000 people over the two nights and he put on a great show. The shows were actually recorded for television, so we will have an enduring memory of how brilliant he was live."
In England, Starr participated in an award-winning British Broadcasting Corp. radio series on the U.S. civil rights movement. In 1995, he was featured on a Walt Disney children's workout album entitled "Mousercise."
"His death has come as a total shock," said Paul Carvell, a friend. "His health hasn't been brilliant recently, but he kept that away from most people and continued to give it his all when he performed.
"There is one more star in heaven tonight."