A few hours ago, my close friend Gene McDaniels passed away. He was working until the end. A songwriter, artist, producer and extraordinary person, Gene’s first major hit as a recording artist was “A Hundred Pounds of Clay.” In 1961, it reached #1 and remained on the charts for months.
Several other recordings followed, all reaching the top five, including “Tower of Strength,” “Chip Chip” and “Point of No Return.” Gene’s composition “Compared to What,” originally released in 1968 by Les McCann and Eddie Harris, has appeared in eight major films, including Ice Storm starring Sigourney Weaver, and Casino starring Robert DiNero. It was recorded last year by John Legend with The Roots.
Building on his success as a vocalist, Gene began writing songs and eventually became a music producer. He has produced for many major labels including Ode, A&M, MGM, BMG, CBS Sony, Capitol, Motown and many independent labels. He has had numerous top ten records in the various capacities of producer, writer and artist.
He was always involved, always excited about the music and always relevant. His dear friend, Roberta Flack, has recorded more Gene McDaniels tunes than any other artist. At the time of his death he was working with a brand new singer/songwriter, Mandy Bennett.
Whenever Gene came to New York, the joint was jumping. My house was filled with the folks who loved him and there was a lot of laughter. His wife, Karen, told me he was working until the very end. They went to bed last night, he was full of ideas and new projects, and this morning, she turned in bed to wake him and he was gone.
So peaceful and so happy.