Pervis Staples, Co-Founder of the Staple Singers, Dead at 85

    Pervis Staples, a founding member of the legendary Staple Singers, has died at 85. Adam Ayers, a member of Mavis Staples’ management team, confirmed to Rolling Stone that Pervis died at his home in Dolton, Illinois on May 6. “Pervis was one of a kind — comical and downright fly,” Mavis said of her late brother in a statement. “He would want to be remembered as an upright man, always willing to help and encourage others. He was one of the good guys and will live on as a true Chicago legend.” No cause of death was given.

    Pervis’ late father Roebuck “Pops” Staples formed the Staple Singers with his children Mavis, Pervis, Cleotha, and Yvonne in 1948. The family band initially sang predominantly gospel, performing in churches around Chicago before transitioning to the more mainstream sounds of soul and R&B. It was Pervis, who used to be friends with Sam Cooke, Lou Rawls, and Jerry Butler during his youth, that pushed his father to let the group to branch out into more secular music. “Pervis and the guys would stand under the lamp posts in the summertime singing doo-wop songs,” Mavis said.

    Before leaving the group after their first album, 1968’s Soul Folks In Action, Pervis struck a friendship with Bob Dylan, which led to them recording a duet of Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’. After his departure from the Staple Singers, Pervis began managing the Chicago group the Hutchinson Sunbeams, who later became the Emotions. He also opened the successful Southside Chicago nightclub Perv’s House.

    In 1999, Pervis Maples was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Staple Singers. He received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award with the group in 2005.

    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis
    Konstantinos Pappis is a writer, journalist, and music editor at Our Culture. His work has also appeared in Pitchfork, GIGsoup, and other publications. He currently lives in Athens, Greece.

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