Sam Gooden, founding member of The Impressions, dies aged 87

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Gooden died in his home town, surrounded by family (Picture: AP/Getty)

Sam Gooden, a founding member of soul group The Impressions, has died at the age of 87.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member died on Thursday morning, a month before turning 88, in his home town of Chattanooga, Tennessee.

No cause of death has been made public, but the star was surrounded by his family, with daughter Gina Griffin confirming the news on Friday to the Associated Press.

Born on September 2, 1934, Gooden formed The Impressions with brothers Richard and Arthur Brooks after moving to Chicago in the 1950s, and was its longest-serving member.

They also added Jerry Butler and soon-to-be soul superstar Curtis Mayfield to the group.

Gooden sang lead baritone vocals on the group’s first hit single, 1958 ballad For Your Precious Love, which reached number 11 on the US pop charts and number three on the R&B charts.

Curtis Mayfield, Fred Cash and Sam Gooden of The Impressions
Curtis Mayfield, Fred Cash and Sam Gooden of The Impressions in 1965 (Picture: Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)
FILE - Sam Gooden of The Impressions performs during The Message in the Music concert in conjunction with the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington on Aug. 25, 2011. Gooden, one of the original members of the Chicago soul group, and a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, died on Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, according to his daughter Gina Griffin. He was 87. (AP Photo/Ann Heisenfelt, File)
Gooden, pictured her in 2011, was The Impressions’ longest-serving member until the group retired in 2018 (Picture: AP)

Later popular songs for the band, which often featured Mayfield’s voice more prominently, included Gypsy Woman, It’s All Right and People Get Ready.

These songs brought The Impressions ever-increasing success and fame as pushed more socially and politically aware messaging during the early 1960s.

It’s All Right shifted one million copies, as well as topping the R&B charts and coming it at number four overall.

Mayfield left the group in 1970 to pursue a career as a solo artist, although he continued to write and produce for The Impressions too.

Sam Gooden, Reginald Torian, and Fred Cash of the Impressions perform at Here But I'm Gone: A 70th Birthday Tribute to Curtis Mayfield
Sam Gooden with Reginald Torian and Fred Cash of a newer line-up of The Impressions performing at a 70th birthday tribute to Curtis Mayfield in 2012 (Picture: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Although later chart success to the same degree slightly eluded them afterwards, they remained influences on other Black artists, including Bob Marley and the Wailers, with the Wailers recording many covers of Impressions songs such as I Gotta Keep On Moving.

Marley also sampled the lyrics of People Get Ready for his iconic song One Love/People Get Ready.

1975 gave the group their only UK hit single when First Impressions reached number 16 on the UK singles charts, before their final major hit Loving Power the following year.

Bob Marley
Bob Marley was one of many artists inspired by Gooden and The Impressions (Picture: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

Gooden and Fred Cash, who replace Jerry Butler in 1960, kept singing and touring as The Impressions with various other lead singers, until 2018.

The Impressions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 and into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame tweeted in tribute: ‘Remembering Sam Gooden of 1991 Inductees The Impressions, whose music effortlessly bridged R&B with the sound of the civil rights movement.

‘As an original member, Gooden’s uplifting voice was an essential component of The Impressions’ unique vocal blend.

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‘Through upbeat hits like It’s All Right and spiritually inspired, socially conscious anthems such as People Get Ready, Gooden helped carry the group’s message and legacy well into the 21st century.’

People Get Ready was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998.

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