Bobby Caldwell’s career explored – Silky voiced R&B artist dies at 71

What For Love Bobby Caldwell R&B singer

The R&B What You Won’t Do For Love singer, Bobby Caldwell, died on March 14, 2023. He was 71 years old and passed away at his home. His wife Mary Caldwell confirmed the tragic news to The Associated Press, stating, “He died in my arms.” The artist was suffering from long-term sickness of a toxic reaction to fluoroquinolone antibiotics.

The singer famous for his silky voice took four-decades-long career away with him. His music ranged among R&B, Soul, Contemporary, and American Standard genres and he reached the peak of his stardom with the double platinum 1978 hit What You Won’t Do For Love.


Bobby Caldwell – The artist’s artist passes away at 71

Bobby Caldwell experimented with many music genres including R&B, reggae, soft rock, and smooth jazz as well. He released more than a dozen albums and wrote for Chicago, Boz Scaggs, Neil Diamond, and Al Jarreau, among others.

His song The Next Time I Fall, which he wrote with Paul Gordon, became a chartbuster for Peter Cetera and Amy Grant, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986. In 2020, Billboard included it on the list of the 25 greatest love songs.

Moreover, his evergreen songs were sampled by other famous artists, including Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. However, this success didn’t come overnight for the respected legend.


Robert Hunter “Bobby” Caldwell was born on August 15, 1951, in Manhattan, and spent most of his youth in Miami. His parents Bob and Carolyn Caldwell were entertainers who hosted variety shows such as 42nd Street Review in New York and Suppertime in Pittsburgh.

The singer called himself a “showbusiness baby,” having been born into the entertainment industry. He began to work on his music at the age of 17 and collaborated with a group Kathmandu in Las Vegas. In the early 70s, he also worked along with Little Richard as a rhythm guitarist.

He spent much of this time trying to make a name for himself, playing at bars and recording demos. His first taste of stardom came with What You Won’t Do For Love in 1978 and it continued through the 80s. His albums Cat In The Hat and Carry On from this time are still well-appreciated.


Bobby Caldwell’s second innings 

After his hit singing career in the 80s, the artist began to venture into songwriting. He also continued to perform as a singer for decades. In 2015, he had a comeback with an album titled Cool Uncle with R&B producer Jack Splash.

The album featured Deniece Williams, CeeLo Green, and Jessie Ware, and ascended the Billboard contemporary jazz chart. Rolling Stone hailed it as “2015’s smartest retro-soul revival.”


Further, his career took an unexpected turn as hip-hop artists started to sample his music. It was a novel crossover that didn’t ever seem likely, but Bobby Caldwell appreciated it. He believed the entertainment business remains in a constant state of flux.

Talking about which, he mentioned that R&B radio “is not what it was” in his early days in 2005 NPR interview. According to him, rappers were branching into what he called “adult urban,” which he claimed was more R&B than ever before. He preached that as the industry is constantly changing, one must keep reinventing himself.


The evergreen singer Bobby Caldwell passed away on March 14, 2023, at the age of 71. His fans will always remember him as the artist who moved with time and reinvented himself.

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