Curtis Mayfield Biography
DOB: June 3, 1942
Date of Death: December 26, 1999
Diabetes Type: unknown
Curtis Mayfield was born on June 3, 1942 in Chicago, Illinois. He attended Wells High School for a short period of time before he dropped out to pursue his music career. Mayfield taught himself how to play the guitar by tuning it to the black keys on the piano. In 1956 he joined a group named The Roosters that would later change their name to The Impressions. After the name of the group changed, Mayfield became the lead singer and recorded a number of singles such as Keep on Pushing, People Get Ready, and Fool for You. Mayfield stayed with this group until the late 1960’s when he finally left to start his solo career.
In 1970, Mayfield started his own independent label, Curtom Records, where he was able to produce and release most of his music throughout the 1970’s, as well as other groups such as The Staple Singers, The Impressions, and Mavis Staples. It was during this time that Mayfield released the powerful album Super Fly that afforded him opportunities to write and produce for other artists on other soundtracks. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s Mayfield was an extremely busy performer, producer, writer, and businessman.
The next decade however held a much different fortune for Mayfield. He was involved in a tragic accident where he became paralyzed from the neck down after lighting equipment fell on him at an outdoor concert. Fortunately he was able to write, produce, sing, and record while lying on his back, but sadly was unable to play the guitar anymore. Mayfield suffered another setback late in the 1990’s when his right leg was amputated due to complications from diabetes.
In 1995, Mayfield was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and was then inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 15, 1999. Amongst his class were Billy Joel, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, George Martin, and The Staple Singers. On December 26, 1999 Curtis Mayfield died at North Fulton Regional Hospital in Roswell, Georgia at the age of 57.
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