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Edwin Starr

Background information
Birth name Charles Edwin Hatcher
Born January 21, 1942(1942-01-21)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Origin Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Died April 2, 2003 (aged 61)
Bramcote, England
Genres Soul, Disco Music
Occupations Singer
Years active 1951-2003
Labels Motown
20th Century Records
Associated acts The Future Tones, Blinky Williams

Edwin Starr (January 21, 1942 – April 2, 2003) was an American soul music singer. Starr is most famous for his Norman Whitfield produced Motown singles of the 1970s, most notably the number one hit "War".



Starr was born Charles Edwin Hatcher in Nashville, Tennessee in 1942. He and his cousins (soul singers Roger and Willie Hatcher) moved to Cleveland, Ohio where they were raised. He has a wife named Annette Mary Hatcher and a son named Andr'e Hatcher and two grandchildren Alont'e Renfroe and Maryah Hatcher.

In 1957, Starr formed a doo-wop group, The Future Tones, and began his singing career. Starr lived in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s and recorded at first for the small record label Ric-Tic, and later for the famed Motown after it absorbed Ric-Tic in 1968. Ric-Tic later funded a broadway musical under the same name throughout eastern Europe.

The song which began his career was "Agent Double'O'Soul" (1965), a take-off on the James Bond films which were popular at the time. Other early hits included "Headline News", "Back Street", a cover of The Miracles "Way Over There", and the popular "S O S (Stop Her On Sight)". He recorded more soul music for the next three years before having an international chart-topper in "25 Miles" (1968), which peaked at #6 in the U.S. the following year.

The biggest hit of his career, which cemented his reputation as a great soul artist, was the anti-Vietnam War protest song "War" (1969). A rousing tour-de-force, the vocals to "War" were—according to Starr—recorded in one take: an impressive accomplishment. In explanation, Starr remained characteristically modest, explaining that he had been allocated little studio time, so had to give each song his best shot. Starr's intense vocals transformed a Temptations album track into a #1 chart success, which spent three weeks in that top position on the US Billboard charts, an anthem for the antiwar movement and a cultural milestone that continues to resound a generation later in movie soundtracks and hip hop music samples. "War" appeared on both Starr's War and Peace LP and its follow-up, Involved. Involved also featured another song of very similar construction titled "Stop the War Now", which was a minor hit in its own right.

Moving to England in 1973, Starr continued to record music into the 1970s, most notably recording the song "Hell Up In Harlem" for the 1974 film, Hell Up in Harlem, which was the sequel to Black Caesar, an earlier hit with a soundtrack by James Brown. In 1979, Starr reappeared on the charts with a pair of disco hits, titled "(Eye-To-Eye) Contact" and "H.A.P.P.Y. Radio". "(Eye-To-Eye) Contact" was the more successful of the two, peaking at #65 on the U.S. pop charts, #13 on the Hot Soul Singles chart, #1 on the U.S. dance charts, and #6 on the UK pop charts. By now he had joined the well-established disco boom, and had further singles out on the record label 20th Century Records. Over the years he released tracks on many labels including Avatar, Calibre, 10 Records, Motown (a return to his former label for a 1989 remix of "25 Miles"), Streetwave and Hippodrome.

In 1985, Starr released "It Ain't Fair". Despite garnering the attention of many in the soul and dance clubs, it fell short of becoming a hit. Starr appeared on the charity number one single "Let It Be" by Ferry Aid in 1987. Later that year, Starr teamed up with the popular and successful Stock, Aitken and Waterman production company for the club hit "Whatever Makes Our Love Grow". In 1989, a number 17 UK hit by the Cookie Crew called "Got to Keep On" sampled a portion of "25 Miles".[1] This track was then featured on a 1990 dance medley made for the BRIT Awards which made number 2 in the UK Singles Chart.[2] A club mix of various artists, it included the previous years remix of "25 Miles".

In 1989, Starr also joined Ian Levine's mammoth project Motorcity Records, releasing six singles and the album Where Is the Sound, as well as co-writing several songs for other artists on the label. Starr resurfaced briefly in 2000 to team up with the UK band Utah Saints to record a new version of "Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On". He appeared again in 2002 to record a song with the British musician Jools Holland, singing "Snowflake Boogie" on Holland's compact disc More Friends; and to record another track with Utah Saints, a so far unreleased version of his number one hit "War"—his last ever recording.

Starr remained a hero on England's Northern Soul circuit and continued living in England for the remainder of his life.[3]


On April 2, 2003, at the age of 61, Edwin suffered a heart attack[4] and died in his home in Bramcote near Nottingham.[5] His brother Angelo Starr is now fronting The Team, the band Edwin had been touring with.


  • "Agent Double-O-Soul" (1965) (#21 US)
  • "Back Street" (1966) (#95 US)
  • "Headline News" (1966) (#84 US) (#39 UK)
  • "I'll Love You Forever" (1966)-Performed w/The Holidays
  • "Lonely Summer" (1966) (written by Starr & performed by The Shades Of Blue)
  • "S.O.S. (Stop Her On Sight)" (1966) (#48 US) (#11 UK)
  • "I Want My Baby Back" as a point of interest this song was released a year earlier on Stevie Wonder's "Uptight" album where the credited composer was Harvey Fuqua. On Edwin Starr's version the song is credited to Norman Whifield, Eddie Kendricks and Cornelius Grant(1967)
  • "I Am The Man For You Baby" (1968)
  • "Grits Ain't Grocery" (1968)
  • "Twenty-Five Miles" (1969) (#6 US) (#36 UK)
  • "Oh How Happy" (1969) (#92 US)- Performed w/ Blinky Williams
  • "You've Made Me So Very Happy" (1969)- Performed w/ Blinky Williams
  • "I'm Still a Struggling Man" (1969) (#80 US)
  • "Way Over There" (1969)
  • "I Just Wanna Do My Thing" (1970)
  • "Time" (1970)
  • "War" (1970) (#1 US) (#3 UK)
  • "Stop the War Now" (1970) (#26 US) (#33 UK)
  • "Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On" (1971)
  • "My Sweet Lord" (1971)
  • "There You Go" (1973) (#80 US)
  • "Big Papa" (1974)
  • "Easin' In (Hell Up In Harlem Soundtrack/American Pimp Soundtrack) (1974/1999)
  • "Hell Up In Harlem" (1974)
  • "Contact" (1979) (#65 US) (#6 UK)
  • "H.A.P.P.Y. Radio" (1979) (#79 US) (#9 UK)
  • "Tell-A-Starr" (1979)
  • "It's Called The Rock" (1979)
  • "Twenty-Five Miles (Mix)" (1980)
  • "Get Up-Whirlpool" (1980)
  • "Stronger (Than You Think I Am)" (1980)
  • "Smooth" (1983) (#90 UK)
  • "I Wanna Take You Home" (1983)
  • "Marvin" (1984) (#89 UK)
  • "It Ain't Fair" (1985) (#56 UK)
  • "Missiles" (1985)
  • "Grapevine" (1985) (#83 UK)
  • "Soul Singer" (1986)
  • "Whatever Makes Our Love Grow" (1987) (#98 UK)
  • "Got To Keep On" (1989) (#17) (w/Cookie Crew)
  • "Twenty-Five Miles (Remix)" (1989) (#82 UK)
  • "Funky Music Sho Nuff Turns Me On" (w/Utah Saints) (2000) (#23 UK)
  • "Snowflake Boogie" (w/Jools Holland) (2002)
  • "War" (w/Utah Saints) (2002)
  • "Twenty-Five Miles" (w/Three Amigos) (2001) (#30 UK)

See also


  1. ^ Warwick, Neil; Kutner, Jon. The Complete Book of the British Charts: Singles and Albums. Brown, Tony. Omnibus Press. pp. 261. ISBN 1-844--490580.  
  2. ^
  3. ^ Leigh, Spencer (2003-04-03). "Obituary: Edwin Starr". The Independent. pp. 2.;col1. Retrieved 2008-08-14.  
  4. ^
  5. ^ Leigh, Spencer (2003-04-03). "Obituary: Edwin Starr". The Independent. pp. 2.;col1. Retrieved 2008-08-14.  


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