STARR, EDWIN (born Charles Edwin Hatcher) (21 January 21, 1942 – 2 April 2, 2003), was an internationally renowned African-American singer, whose musical career spanned more than four decades and multiple genres of popular music.. 

Born in Nashville, Tennessee. His family members moved to Cleveland when he was an adolescent..  With his family inspired by the by the growing popularity of American soul music, Charles, his younger brother, Angelo, and their cousins, Roger and Willie Hatcher, fashioned singing careers in the genre. Around 1956, he, as Edwin Starr, formed his first musical group while in high school, naming their quintet, The Future Tones.

The Future Tones experienced local success which gave them experience while recording for small labels. Around 1960, Starr was drafted into the US military. After completing his service in Germany, he returned home and unsuccessfully tried to revive The Future Tones.  About a year later joined Bill Doggett And His Combo as a vocalist. Soon after, Starr left the Doggett band and moved to Detroit, Michigan, where he wrote the lyrics to his first hit single, “Agent Double-O-Soul,”.  In Detroit he finally signed with a major label, Ric Tic Records, and released “Agent Double-O-Soul,”. The song gained audience, appealing to the media popularity of spy shows at the time.  He built on this by dressing like a spy for his performances. He later went on to release other hit singles like, “S.O.S. (Stop Her On Sight),” and “Headline News,” under Ric Tic Records.

From 1963 onward, Edwin Starr had a successful and consistent musical career. In 1968, Motown Records’ head, Berry Gordy, took over Ric Tic Records’ contracts with its artists. Under Gordy’s management Starr released the song “25 Miles in 1969.which achieved Top Ten status in the U.S. Pop and Rhythm and Blues charts. Under new management, and with more resources Under new management, and with better resources, Edwin Starr was paired with producer Norman Whitfield. The pair launched what is considered Starr’s most memorable song, “War.”  The controversial song was supposed to have been released by the Temptations on their 1970 “Psychedelic Shack” LP. 

Working with Motown allowed Starr to continue to record music that spoke of social issues at the time, and that in turn influenced musicians such as Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye to do the same. Throughout the early to mid-1970’s, Edwin Starr released records such as, “Stop the War Now,” and the soundtrack to the film Hell Up in Harlem. His final recordings under the Motown label were titled “Pain,” and “Who’s Right or Wrong,”. He left Motown because of the label’s somewhat hesitant promotion the socially critical nature of his music.

After attempting joint ventures with smaller recording companies from 1975 through 1978, Starr reinvented his image, with a new and in-fashion, disco-pop style under 20th Century Records. Under Century’s management, Starr released hit disco singles in 1979 including “Free To Be Myself,” “(Eye to Eye) Contact,” “H.A.P.P.Y. Radio,” and the Afternoon Sunshine LP. The 1980 song titled “Get Up Whirlpool,” would be the last single released by Starr under 20th Century Records. During the mid-1980’s, Edwin Starr settled in England, and continued to perform in theatre tours. In 1989, Starr signed to Motorcity Records in the U.K., where he created and performed until his death. Edwin Starr garnering particular acclaim in the northern soul circuit in England.  He was posthumously inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame and the Original Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame at CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY.

Charles Edwin “Starr” Hatcher passed away on April 2, 2002 at his home in Nottingham, England, due to a heart attack.

Kevin Jones

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