Oh dear, our soul heroes are falling like flies. I have just learnt of the death of Ronnie Lovejoy. Ronnie had his first album released in 1992, and his first R&B hit in 1999, but in his relatively short recording career he did release six albums, establishing him as one of the top southern soul singers.  


Born in 1950 in Wetumpka, Alabama, to a very musical family, so from a very early age he was involved in music, an uncle taught him piano, his mother trained him in singing. He proceeded from church choirs to high school bands, than to more professional groups. In the late eighties he joined Latimore's band as second pianist, whom he stayed with for four years, and during that time he cut one single for the Spicer label ‘You're America, You're Mine’. He moves to LA, where he gets lucky, resulting in him recording his first album 'SUDDENLY' (1992) on Leon Haywood's Evejim Label. On the album's release he started doing shows, going on tours, but unfortunately a very bad heart attack curtailed his activities. He returns to Alabama to recuperate, which takes nearly a year. He next hooked up with Ace records for his second album ‘MY BABY'S CHEATING ON ME' (1994) a great southern soul album, mainly produced by the wonderful Willie Clayton, and recorded in the Malaco's studios. ‘Can’t Leave Love Alone’ from the album is a dramatic deep soul corker.


The next album 'THINK ABOUT YOU ALL THE TIME' Ace (1996), the title track is a very classy ballad. Ronnie was now building up a huge following on the chitlin circuit, touring constantly. Exhausted he needed to rest, and broke from touring, to take up a year-long residence in a gambling casino. The next album 'UNTIL YOU GET ENOUGH OF ME' Avanti (1998) is a strong set, with ‘Missing You’ being a stand out beat ballad. The next album 'NOBODY'S FAULT BUT MINE' Avanti (1999). From this album came his smash R&B hit ‘Sho Wasn't Me’ helped on it's way with massive airplay. Even though the song isn't one of his best, nor the album, it was the hit that turned his fortunes around. On the strength of the hit he was once again back touring full time. His final album 'STILL WASN'T ME' Good Time (2000) is not a bad album, but more commercial then any of his previous offerings, at least it does have real instruments.


I think he has been unwell for a while, a reason he pulled out of Utrecht last year. Often compared vocally to Z Z Hill, maybe to some extent, but he did create a style of his own, who leaves behind some wonderful southern soul.


John “Soulboy” Joliffe



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