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Subject: Edwin Starr, Soul Singer

Dies at 61
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Date Posted: April 03, 2003 2:29:31 EDT

Nashville-born soul singer Edwin Starr, whose 1970 hit "War" denounced conflict as good for "absolutely nothing," has died aged 61 from a heart attack at his home in central England, his manager said on Thursday.

"Edwin passed away at his Nottingham home on Wednesday afternoon following a heart attack," manager Lilian Kyle told Reuters by telephone.

"I am absolutely saddened and shaken up by his death. He was performing right until the end," she said.

Starr -- born Charles Hatcher -- gained fame in the mid 1960s with a series of soul hits, including "Agent Double-O-Soul," which he promoted by appearing in a short film with original James Bond actor Sean Connery.

Starr signed to the Motown record label and racked up more hits in the United States and Britain, where his gutsy and strident style earned him a huge cult following.

His most memorable numbers were foot-stompers "25 Miles" from 1969 and 1970's visceral number one hit "War," a thundering indictment against war that earned him a Grammy award and includes the lines:

"War has shattered many young men's dreams/We've got no place for it today/ They say we must fight to keep our freedom but Lord/There's just got to be a better way."

Starr himself served in the U.S. army for three years before embarking on a career in music.

U.S. rock star Suzi Quatro, who met Starr as a teenager in Detroit, led the tributes to the soul legend.

She told BBC Online: "He was the best. There was nobody better on the stage and he was the nicest man you could ever wish to meet."

Starr shifted from soul to disco in the late 1970s then moved to Britain in the 1980s where he toured repeatedly on oldies and soul revues.

More recently, he played at charity events and was due to perform at the international music festival Womad -- World of Music, Arts and Dance -- in Reading, southeast England, in July.

In a 2000 interview with Britain's Guardian newspaper he analyzed the secret of his success:

"I just take care of myself," he said. "I never drink. I've never been involved with drugs. I don't let the business control me. I don't feel the need to be in the public eye. I've never searched for adulation, and I'm not gonna start, at this point in my life, to do so."

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