While moonlighting from a hospital orderly job with R and B covers band the Esquires Combo
, Percy Sledge shot to stardom when his mournful solo 'When A Man Loves A Woman
' hit US No.1.
He recorded for three years at Atlantic's famous Muscle Shoals studio but- despite US R and B chart smashes with 'Warm And Tender Love', 'It Tears Me Up' (both 1966), 'Out Of Left Field' (1967), 'Sudden Stop', 'Take Time To Know Her' (both 1968), and 'Any Day Now' (1969)- never repeated his mainstream success.
Surprisingly, he also recorded Country songs- 1967's 'Love Me Tender' and 'The Dark End Of The Street'. Apart from scattered 70s R and B hits (1973's 'Sunshine' and 1974's 'I'll Be Your Everything'), Sledge was absent from the chart until 'When A Man Loves A Woman', featured in Oliver Stone's Platoon and a Levi's ad, hit UK No.2 in 1987. In 1991 the song was given the unique treatment of Michael Bolton and followed its writer to the US chart summit.