Roebuck "Pops" Staples led his children in the Staple Singers, a group that started performing gospel music in Chicago churches in the 1940s. They were moved by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s preaching in the '60s to advance a secular social message, and their uplifting R&B hits eventually topped the pop music charts. Staples was 84 when he died in Chicago 10 years ago.
"We just kept on singing and praying, and we let our music carry the message," Staples said later of the ensemble's moving beyond gospel music. "When people realized that our music still had the message of love, our audience grew -- old people came back, and new people kept coming."
The group was most successful in the 1970s, recording "Respect Yourself," "I'll Take You There" and "If You're Ready [Come Go With Me]." Their last chart hit was the title song from the soundtrack of "Let's Do It Again," the Sidney Poitier-Bill Cosby comedy. Collaboration with Talking Heads -- and, for "Pops" Staples, some film appearances and a Grammy Award win in 1994 -- followed.
'Pops' Staples dies at 84 (Dec. 20, 2000)
-- Michael Owen
Photo: Roebuck "Pops" Staples is flanked by his daughters, Cleotha, left, and Mavis, at their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.
Credit: Associated Press