Sledge will be forever identified with the classic soul ballad, "When a Man Loves a Woman" (Atlantic 2326; 1966), which blended his intense, gospel-inflected vocal with an ethereal organ accompaniment. Success did not come overnight for the singer; he spent the first half of the 1960s performing in the region surrounding his native Alabama. He was a member of the Esquires Combo when he decided to go solo in 1966. Following the release of "When a Man Loves a Woman," which reached number one on both the pop and R&B charts, he scored Top Twenty hits with "Warm and Tender Love" (Atlantic 2342; 1966), "It Tears Me Up" (Atlantic 2358; 1966), and "Take Time to Know Her" (Atlantic 2490; 1968).
Sledge’s recording career stalled by the late 1960s, but he has continued to tour the U.S., Japan, and Great Britain through the 1990s. The appearance of "When a Man Loves a Woman" in the popular film, Platoon (1987), spurred a revival of interest in Sledge. That same year the song was re-released in the U.K., where it reached number two on the pop charts. In 1989 he won the Rhythm and Blues Foundation’s Career Achievement Award.
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