Edwin Starr, born Charles Edwin Hatcher on January 21, 1942, and passing away on April 2, 2003, was an American soul singer and songwriter. He is best known for his powerful and energetic performances, as well as his socially conscious and politically charged songs. Starr began his musical career in the 1960s, initially as a member of various vocal groups. He eventually signed with the Motown label in 1968, where he achieved his greatest success. His breakout hit came in the same year with the song “Twenty-Five Miles,” which reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
However, Starr’s most iconic and enduring song is undoubtedly “War.” Released in 1970, “War” became an anthem of the anti-Vietnam War movement. The song’s passionate and emphatic delivery, coupled with its direct and thought-provoking lyrics, struck a chord with audiences. “War” topped the charts and remains one of the most recognized protest songs of all time.
Starr continued to release music throughout the 1970s, with songs like “Stop the War Now” and “Contact” achieving moderate success. While he didn’t replicate the massive success of “War,” he maintained a loyal following and delivered dynamic live performances. In the 1980s, Starr experienced a resurgence in popularity in the United Kingdom. His 1970 hit “War” was re-released in 1985, and it reached the Top 10 on the UK charts due to its use in a Levi’s jeans commercial. This renewed attention led to Starr performing at various music festivals and collaborating with British artists.
Edwin Starr’s contribution to soul music, particularly through his socially conscious songs, solidified his status as a respected and influential artist. His passionate vocals, energetic stage presence, and commitment to addressing important issues through his music have made him a beloved figure in the soul genre. Tragically, Starr passed away in 2003 at the age of 61. However, his music continues to be celebrated and appreciated by fans worldwide. His songs remain relevant and continue to resonate, reminding us of his talent and his impactful contribution to the soul music landscape.