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Remember ‘O-o-h Child’ by the Five Stairsteps?

Clarence Burke Jr., who died on May 26 at age 64 in Marietta, Ga., was the lead singer, guitar player, sometime songwriter, and choreographer of the Five Stairsteps, four brothers and a sister from Chicago who got their name because their mother said that when the siblings stood together, they looked like stairs.

stairstepsWhile the Five Stairsteps achieved an impressive string of R&B hits in the 1960s and 1970s, their shining moment was “O-o-h Child,” a 1970 single that became their only crossover hit on the Billboard 100 pop chart. Village Voice rock critic Robert Christgau called the group’s sound “eminently listenable sweet soul,” but in a summer when America was still traumatized by the Kent State shootings and the escalating carnage in Southeast Asia, what probably resonated the most with radio listeners was the cheerful resilience of Burke and his siblings as they sang:

Some day, yeah
We’ll get it together and we’ll get it all done
Some day
When your head is much lighter
Some day, yeah
We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun
Some day
When the world is much brighter


Listen to the Five Stairsteps performing “O-o-h Child” on Soul Train:

Here are seven intriguing facts about Burke and a song that’s still a staple of oldies radio:


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