Sam Gooden, co-founder of The Impressions, dies at age 87

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    Photo courtesy of Discogs

    (August 7, 2022) They were among the most iconic groups of the 1960s, both hitmakers and real troubadours in the fight for equality. They were the Impressions, and the one member who was there from beginning to end, Sam Gooden, has passed at age 87.

    Formed in 1956 by Gooden, Richard Brooks and Arthur Brooks, with prominent additions Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions, in various forms, became among the biggest soul music hitmakers over the next two decades.

    (August 7, 2022) They were among the most iconic groups of the 1960s, both hitmakers and real troubadours in the fight for equality. They were the Impressions, and the one member who was there from beginning to end, Sam Gooden, has passed at age 87.

    Formed in 1956 by Gooden, Richard Brooks and Arthur Brooks, with prominent additions Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield, The Impressions, in various forms, became among the biggest soul music hitmakers over the next two decades.

    With Butler as the lead singer, the group first hit big in 1957 with “For Your Precious Love,” a fantastic ballad that bridged the doo wop of the 1960s with the emerging soul movement. It became the catapult for Butler to leave and start a Hall of Fame solo career. It also opened the door for Mayfield to take the lead, painting a musical and lyrical canvas that would make The Impressions among the most important acts of the era, combining soul with the spirit, and romantic love with the fight for civil rights. From “We’re A Winner” to “People Get Ready” to “Choice of Colors” and many more, The Impressions created a catalog of songs that became absolute classics.

    In the early 70s, Mayfield left the group to start his own successful solo career, and with a series of new singers joining, The Impressions again hit the top end of the charts in 1975 with “Finally Got Myself Together (I’m A Changed Man”) and “Sooner or Later.” The hits started to fade by the end of the decade, and movement among several label didn’t change the arc of the group’s recording career.

    Despite reaching the end of their hitmaking days, The Impressions continued to tour successfully, and became favorites throughout Europe in the new millennium. However, the sad passing of several members led to a retirement of the group in 2018.

    In those sixty years of The Impressions, there was one constant: Sam Gooden. He kept the flame of the iconic group alive all of those years and helped establish a legacy – beyond the music -- that will live on. He was not only an important part of the Golden Age of Soul Music, he was an important part of the changing of America during a turbulent period, and it is a change that continues today.

    By Chris Rizik

    Thanks to SoulTrackers Joseph and Gary for letting us know.

     
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