Soul singer Solomon Burke dies in Amsterdam

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - U.S. soul singer Solomon Burke died at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on Sunday morning, aged 70, after flying in from Los Angeles, Dutch media reported.

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Known as the King of Rock and Soul, the Grammy winner was a preacher turned singer and had released his latest album “Nothing’s Impossible” in April.

He mixed gospel with rhythm and blues and made several soul classics, including the 1964 hit “Somebody to Love.” Famed R&B producer Jerry Wexler referred to him as the “best soul singer of all time,” according to Burke’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame biography.

Local news agency ANP said Burke was declared dead at the Schiphol morgue and a doctor said he had died of natural causes. His body will be returned to the U.S. next week.

A Schiphol airport spokeswoman in Amsterdam confirmed Burke had died, but could not provide further details.

The burley Burke, who often performed in the Netherlands, had been due to release a new compact disc, “Hold on Tight,” with the Dutch band of De Dijk on Tuesday in Amsterdam. His last concert was on September 4 in Seattle.

Born March 21, 1940 in Philadelphia, Burke started singing in church choirs at a young age and later became a minister.

He presented gospel music on a local radio station and made some recordings between 1954 and 1958 before obtaining a contract with Atlantic Records in 1960.

He won a Grammy as recently as 2003, owned a church a funeral enterprise and a limousine rental service.

He was known for his showmanship and on stage would sometimes sit on a stage, resplendent in regal robes. He had 21 children and 90 grandchildren.

Reporting by Aaron Gray-Block and Marcel Michelson; Editing by Matthew Jones