Sam Gooden, Founding Member of Soul Icons, The Impressions, Dead at 87

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Videos by American Songwriter

Sam Gooden, founding and longest-serving member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted soul group the Impressions, has died at the age of 87.

Gooden’s daughter Gina Griffen confirmed his death earlier this week in his hometown Chattanooga, Tennessee to the Associated Press. No cause of death was provided but, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com reported that Gooden had experienced a decline in health in recent years, notably kidney and breathing issues.

Following a stint in the army, Gooden moved to Chicago, where he and brothers Arthur and Richard Brooks were joined by Chicago childhood friends Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler in a doo-wop act called the Roosters. The group was soon renamed Jerry Butler and The Impressions in 1858, under which they recorded their first R&B hit “For Your Precious Love.”

The Brooks brothers left the group soon after, which left the remaining members to rebrand as solely the Impressions—Mayfield then took over leadership of the trio. The group released a string of early ’60s hits including “Gyspy Woman,” “It’s All Right” and their classic “People Get Ready.”

“People Get Ready” was bolstered as the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights movement and was later inducted into the Library of Congress’s National Recording Registry as well as the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Gooden took over lead vocals duties on a number of songs like “Aware of Love” and “I Wanna Be Around.” He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991 alongside his bandmates, as well as the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.

(Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

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