A lot may have changed over the decades in the music industry, but 60s music reigns supreme.
Most Black male singers created their legacy during this period. And to date, many people still remember and cherish their music.
Here is a list of the top black male singers of the 60s.
- Marvin Gaye
- Bobby “Blue” Bland
- Otis Redding
- Wilson Pickett
- Stevie Wonder
- Joe Tex
- Chuck Jackson
Marvin Gaye, born Marvin Pentz Gay Jr in 1939 in Washington D.C., was a soul singer and songwriter. He started his music life at a tender age, singing at his father’s church before joining high school.
In high school, Gaye developed a love for the R&B genre, which marked the beginning of his singing career. He later joined the New Moonglows vocal group in the late 50s.
Gaye was immensely talented, and soon after joining this vocal group, he got signed to Motown Records. Here, he was a drummer to a few legends, including The Vandellas and The Supremes.
This legend’s fame began in 1962 after releasing his first hit, Hitch Hike. It didn’t stop there as he showed his immense talent throughout the 60s.
In this decade, Gaye released three more hit solo singles while still signed to Motown. These are Ain’t That Peculiar in 1965, I Heard It Through the Grapevine in 1968, and Too Busy Thinking About My Baby a year later.
Bobby “Blue” Bland
Bobby “Blue” Bland was born Robert Calvin Bland in Tennessee in 1930. He was a Blues, soul blues, R&B, and soul singer who had a rich baritone voice.
In 1947, he moved to Memphis with his mother, joining local gospel groups like the Miniatures. This was the beginning of his music career.
He then started going to the city to join other striving singers like Johnny Ace, Junior Parker, and B.B King. Their meetings and practice took place at Beale street, and together they were called the Beale Streeters.
He got signed to modern records in 1951, where he recorded many singles, including They Call It Stormy Monday. This single plus others recorded for Modern Records were not successful.
He would later record the same single in 1961. This time, They Call It Stormy Monday became his very first hit single.
The 60s, for him, started with fame and success from the hits he did for Duke Records. Cry Cry Cry, I pity The Fool and Turn on Your Love Light, all recorded in 1961, while That’s The Way Love Is in 1963.
Originally as Otis Ray Redding Jr, Otis Redding was born in Dawson, Georgia, in 1941 and later moved to Macon, Georgia, with his family. He loved listening to Little Richard and Sam Cooke’s music as a teenager.
Otis, a Soul, R&B, and rock singer, drew his inspiration and love for music from the two legends. Later, towards the end of the 50s, he quit high school to join Upsetters, Little Richard’s band, to support his family.
In 1961, he recorded and released his first single, Shout Bamalama. This single was a minor hit but didn’t stop him from pressing on.
Still enthusiastic about his music career, Otis found his way to Johnny Jenkins’ band known as the Pinetoppers after befriending him. He worked in this band as a driver and a singer.
During one of the band’s recording sessions with the Stax studios in Memphis, Tennessee, Redding sang and released his two solo songs. One of the songs, These Arms of Mine in 1962, picked up well, which marked the beginning of his musical success.
He would later record an album, Otis Blue, in 1965, then started releasing hit after hit almost immediately. “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “Respect” came in 1965, while “Satisfaction” and “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa” in 1966.
All these were solo singles, but he was also an excellent duet partner. Redding worked with Carla Thomas and released two hits, “Knock on Wood” and “Tramp” in 1967.
Through these hits, Redding became one of the best black male singers of the 60s.
Wilson Pickett, an R&B, soul, and Southern soul singer, was born in 1941 in Prattville, Alabama. He suffered an abusive childhood at the hands of his mom.
He later moved to Detroit in 1955 to live with his father. In this city, he began his musical career, forming Violinaires, a gospel band that would perform in the local churches.
He left the gospel world for the secular music industry four years later, like his counterparts Aretha Franklyn and Sam Cooke. Pickett joined the Falcons in 1951, and his biggest success with this vocal group was “I Found a Love,” released in 1962.
Though this song was just a minor hit that picked at position 75 on the pop charts, it encouraged him to start a solo career. As a solo artist, Pickett recorded several singles, but most of them took off poorly.
His major success came with the release of “It’s Too Late” single, which, in 1963, arose to position seven on the RnB charts. In 1965, he released his best-remembered single to date, “In the Midnight Hour,” which peaked at No.1 on RnB charts and 21 in pop charts.
After this hit single, others follow soon after in this same decade. “Mustang Sally” and “Land of 1000 Dances” in 1966 and “Funky Broadway” in 1967.
Originally as Stevland Hardaway Morris, Stevie Wonder, an R&B soul and gospel singer, was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1950. He became blind shortly after birth, but this blindness didn’t stop him from doing what he loves most, music.
Wonder started his musical journey from 4years, singing in the local church’s choir in Detroit. He would show much talent with every musical instrument he touched at the time, like piano, drums, and harmonica.
All these happened before he could reach 10years, and surprisingly, he learned them by himself. At 11, Wonder got signed to Motown Records, where he earned his stage name, Little Stevie Wonder.
His fame picked up in 1963 after releasing his very first single, “Fingertips.” This single became position 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making Wonder the youngest singer in the 60s to top the Billboard.
Before then, he had worked with other Motown Records’ artists on an instrumental album, The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie Wonder, released in 1962. He also released the Tribute to Uncle Ray album in the same year, covering Ray Charles’ songs.
Joe Tex was born Joseph Arrington Jr. in Rogers, Texas, in 1935. He was an R&B soul, southern soul, deep soul, and funk disco singer who got pretty famous in the 60s and 70s.
Joe had a brand of southern soul, mixing the styles of RnB, funk, gospel, and country music. It was through this brand that he gained so much success in the 60s.
After four consecutive wins from the Apollo Theatre, Joe got signed to King Records in 1955. This signing marked the beginning of his commercial music career.
Though he recorded and released many singles between 1955-64, none of his singles made it to the charts. It was such a struggle for him until 1964, after recording his first single hit called “Hold What You’ve Got.”
He released this single in 1965, and it received so much success and love from the people. It debuted at position five on the Billboard, making Joe one of the best singers in the 60s.
Several other singles came out soon after, including “Skinny Legs and All” in 1967 and “I Gotcha” in 1972. While most of these singles got featured on the RnB charts, a few made it to the top 40 on the Billboard.
This 60s legend went on to have 4million selling hits, which confirms how great and determined he was. A man who never gave up despite his deemed failures from 1955-1964.
Born in 1937 in Latta, South Carolina, Chuck was a producer, songwriter, and singer. At only six years, Chuck started singing gospel music in the church choir in South Carolina.
His singing talent even got him a 15-minute gospel show at a local radio station where he would sing and play the piano. Chuck’s commercial musical career started in 1957.
He joined The Del-Vikings, the chart-topping Doo-Wop group, the same year singing as a lead vocalist. As a group, they released a hit song called “Willette.”
He would then leave them in 1959 to get signed to Scepter Records, a branch of the bigger Wand Records. While there, Chuck recorded his first single, “I Don’t Want to Cry,” in 1960, working with Luther Dixon, and in 1961, he released it.
This single hit song was a huge success, making it to both the pop and RnB charts. In the RnB chart, the song made it to position 5 and position 36 in pop charts.
Soon after, he recorded yet another hit song, “Any Day Now,” in 1962. This song became his signature song and also another huge success.
He then moved to Motown Records, where he again recorded other singles, though with minimal success. Moving to Motown Records, was to him, the biggest mistake he took during his musical career.
Chuck Jackson worked with several other records, including ABC, Clock, Platinum, and EMI.
Top Black Male Singers of The 60s, Conclusion
Well, these are the top 7 black male singers of the 60s. From this article, you can see that they were naturally talented and dedicated to their musical career.
Although some of these black legends have left us, their music forever lives in our souls.