1961 Solomon Burke – Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Open Arms )
James Solomon McDonald grew up in Western Philadelphia and credited his grandmother for coaching his singing. He was nine years old when his mother remarried and they changed his name to Solomon Burke.
Like many soul vocalists, Solomon began singing Gospel music. He formed the Gospel Cavaliers while in high school, and the quartet sang in various churches.
He signed with Apollo Records and began recording singles, but failed to reach the charts. He signed with other companies during the late fifties, but his career didn’t really take off until he signed with Atlantic Records in 1960.
His new record company surprised him by selecting a few Country-style songs for him to record. The first one didn’t attract too much attention.
Virgil “Pappy” Stewart wrote Just Out Of Reach (Of My Two Empty Arms) in 1951. His recording didn’t do much, but Faron Young’s single reached #10 on the Country chart in 1953.
Solomon’s version of the song wasn’t nearly that Country, and Solomon insisted on including a spoken word section in the middle of the recording. His single reached #9 on the R&B chart and peaked at #24 on the Hot 100 in 1961.
The single sold over a million copies. Solomon had nine more top ten R&B records on the R&B chart (including the chart-topping Got to Get You Off My Mind. He had only four more records reach between #20 and #40 on the Hot 100 before his string of pop hits ended in 1965.
Ray Charles followed Solomon into Country territory the next year with his release of the album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.
I have collected older articles about Lost or Forgotten Oldies in my books.
Please visit my author page on Amazon where I sell my paperbacks, eBooks, and audiobooks. The Lost or Forgotten Oldies series starts with a volume entitled Introduction, which is only 99 cents.
You can even read the books for free if you have Kindle Unlimited!