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Bobby Caldwell dead at 71

The singer battled an illness
Bobby Caldwell dead at 71
CD artwork of Bobby Caldwell. (Photo credit: Kraft74 / shutterstock.com)

Singer Bobby Caldwell has died at the age of 71. According to music journalist A. Scott Galloway, he battled an “extended illness.” DJ Soul Sister shared the news via her Twitter account on March 15.

Caldwell was best known for his classic 1978 R&B single, “What You Won’t Do For Love.” The song has been covered a multitude of times, including a recent notable rendition from Snoh Aalegra.


Soul Sister continued to honor Caldwell’s life by pointing out his record company, TK Records, used a silhouette of him on the cover art of “What You Won’t Do For Love” to hide the fact the soul singer was White. The DJ pointed out Motown Records used the same method with Teanna Marie. His next album, released two years later in 1980, was titled Cat in the Hat. His face is shown on the album’s cover art as a play on words the cat was out of the bag Caldwell was White.

One of the songs on the album was “Open Your Eyes,” a track famously sampled 20 years later by rapper Common on his hit single “The Light.”


He continued to go along with the jokes, even in his latter years on Twitter.

Dating back to July 2021, Caldwell’s management team began tweeting about how Caldwell had to cancel scheduled performances due to his health. In May 2022, Soul Tracks shared a letter Caldwell’s management sent out, specifying what caused the illness.

“In January of 2017 Bobby was given an antibiotic,” the letter read. “After taking the drug for several days, he experienced bilateral Achilles tendon ruptures and developed peripheral neuropathy. Despite these injuries, Bobby continued to perform with the aid of a wheelchair, cane, and his helpers. Unfortunately, Bobby’s condition continues to worsen. He has a great deal of neuropathy pain, and his mobility is limited.

“Bobby had always planned on performing and making music for the rest of his life. He never could have anticipated what happened to him. It’s truly heartbreaking.”

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