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US soul 'king' Solomon Burke dies: Netherlands airport

THE HAGUE (AFP) – Grammy award-winning US singer Solomon Burke, crowned "the King of Rock and Soul" during a career spanning five decades, was pronounced dead Sunday at Amsterdam airport. He was 70 years old.

A spokeswoman for The Netherlands' Amsterdam-Schipol airport confirmed that Burke had died but could not say whether he had died during his flight from Los Angeles or after he arrived at the airport.

"I can confirm that Solomon Burke is dead," spokeswoman Antoinette Spaans told AFP.

Burke, whose songs found new audiences through the soundtracks for movies such as "The Blues Brothers" and "Dirty Dancing", was to have given a concert in Amsterdam's Paradiso venue on Tuesday with Dutch group De Dijk, with whom he has recorded an album.

An ordained church minister, Burke continued to sing and perform around the world. In recent interviews, he had made clear that he had no intention of retiring despite celebrating his 70th birthday.

"I'm still on a journey walking up the King's Highway, carrying that seed of hope and spreading that word that love is the answer," he told the USA Today newspaper.

Born on March 21, 1940 in Philadelphia, the rhythm 'n blues star was most famous for "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" which was recorded by the Rolling Stones and became the hit song from the 1980 film "The Blues Brothers".

His style was largely gospel and sometimes country, while his youthful voice and performances were similar to those of the late soul legend, James Brown.

Burke was father to 21 children and had 90 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren, according to his official website, which lists the late Pope John Paul II as among his fans.

He was also a preacher and ran a funeral agency.

The singer recorded his first album "Christmas Present from Heaven" in 1956 and it sold a million copies.

Between 1961 and 1968, Burke released 32 singles with Atlantic Records. He continued to record and perform in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

The legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler as described Burke as "the best soul singer of all time".

In 2001 Burke was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the same year as Michael Jackson and Paul Simon, which says on its website that his "versatile, force-of-nature voice combines gospel fervor, country gentility and R&B grit."

The following year, Burke was awarded a Grammy for the best blues album for "Don't Give Up On Me".

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