Michael Ochs Archive / Getty Images
Pervis Staples, a founding member of Staple Singers, has passed away. According to a statement from a family spokesperson, he died suddenly at his home in Doulton, Illinois, on May 6. He was 85 years old.
Staples was born in Drew, Miss. , In 1935, the second of five children. Soon the family moved to Chicago, Illinois, where Patriarch Robock “Pops” Staples worked at a steel mill. In order to keep his kids busy while their mother worked the night shift at a downtown hotel, Pops made them sit in a circle and sing. This is the seed of what will eventually become Staple Singers: Pops on guitar, with kids Cleotha, Pervis and Mavis singing. (Yvonne Staples would replace Pervis when he was drafted into the Army in 1958.)
“Parvis’ childhood was full of wonderful experiences,” Mavis Staples said in a statement. “He liked to think of this period of his life as paving the way for everything he wanted to do in life.”
In the early years, Staple Singers mostly stuck to gospel music, on Pops’ orders. Pervis finally convinced him otherwise, introducing his father to friend Bob Dylan. Greg the Cat, Author I’ll Take You There: Mavis Staples, The Lead Vocalists, And The Music That Shaped The Civil Rights EraAnd the He said in an interview that young Dylan played the same festivals as Staple Singers, and was a huge fan. Pervis played his father’s “Blowin ‘in the Wind”, who was amazed at the way the music spoke to the message of the ongoing civil rights movement.
“Parvis was instrumental in building this connection,” says Cote.
Pervis Staples eventually left the Staple Singers after their first Stax Records record, 1968 People of the soul at work. He went to run the Hutchinson Sunbeams, who later became Emotions, and opened his own nightclub in Chicago called Perv’s.
Was recruited into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame In 1998 he got a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award In 2005, as part of Staple Singers. In the family statement, Mavis Staples said: “He was one of the good guys and will remain as a true statement for Chicago.”