Fans of R&B were left heartbroken this week when the Associated Press reported that singer Bobby Caldwell had passed away at the age of 71.
Caldwell’s widow, Mary Caldwell, told the news service that he died in her arms on Tuesday at their New Jersey home following a long illness.
Caldwell’s hit song was covered by many artists
Bobby passed away here at home. I held him tight in my arms as he left us. I am forever heartbroken. Thanks to all of you for your many prayers over the years. He had been “FLOXED,” it took his health over the last 6 years and 2 months. Rest with God, my Love. -Mary Caldwell
— Bobby Caldwell (@bobbycaldwell) March 15, 2023
The Associated Press noted how Caldwell rose to prominence in the 1970s, scoring a major hit in 1978 with the single “What You Won’t Do for Love.”
“What You Won’t Do for Love” went on to be covered by the vocal harmony group Boyz II Men along with solo artist Michael Bolton.
Fellow musicians shared fond memories of Caldwell
The song was also sampled by multiple hip-hop artists, including Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G., Common, and Lil Nas.
News of Caldwell’s death brought an outpouring of praise for the fallen artist on social media, including from others in the music industry.
Musician and record producer Questlove put up an Instagram post in which he said, “Thank you for your voice and gift.”
“Caldwell was the closing chapter in a generation in which record execs wanted to hide faces on album covers so perhaps maybe their artist could have a chance,” Questlove declared.
Fans spoke of singer’s “gentle spirit”
Chance the Rapper spoke up as well, sharing a screenshot on his Instagram account of an direct message exchange he had in which Caldwell said he would “be honored” if Chance were to use a sample from one of his songs.
“You are such an inspiration to me and many others,” Chance said in reply. The rapper went on to add in his post that he had “not felt broken like this at a stranger’s passing in so long.”
Meanwhile, some fans shared stories of having met Caldwell in person, with one speaking fondly of “his gentle spirit.”
Remembering singer, songwriter and musician Bobby Caldwell (August 15, 1951 – March 15, 2023). Condolence and prayers go out to his family and loved ones. I will forever remember his gentle spirit, when meeting him at the Berks Jazz Fest. Rest in peace, love, and music Bobby. pic.twitter.com/7k6QcPQHIr
— ♪ Sunshine Brown ♪ (@_MusicalOne_) March 15, 2023