Burke was born on March 21, 1940, in West Philadelphia. He was raised by his mother and grandmother, and began singing in their church at age fourteen. That same year, he got his first hit with Apollo Records, "Christmas Presents From Heaven."
Jump forward a bit to 1961, when Burke returned to music and signed to Atlantic Records. It was here he started to solidify his own style, performing in a robe and gold crown, only updating this look recently with a cowboy hat and throne.
From '61 onward, Burke produced a number of hits, including "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love," "Get Out of My Life Woman," "Home in Your Heart" and countless others. He even recently lent his voice to an interactive children's book called Leon the Lion earlier this year.
Burke had notable ties to Colorado. In the mid-'70s, Sammy Mayfield began working with the blues legend as his musical director and as a guitar player in Burke's massive backing band on many tours, including several of the band's trips overseas.
Burke's career was constantly in rebirth, as his songs were consistently being covered for new generations by the likes of the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen, not to mention covers of his tunes that appeared in The Blues Brothers and Dirty Dancing. His final album, Hold on Tight, is set to be released before the end of the month.