Charles Barksdale, bass vocalist for The Dells, dies

Credit: Evan Agostini

Credit: Evan Agostini

Charles Barksdale, a singer who was the bass vocalist of the doo-wop group The Dells, died Wednesday.

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Barksdale's health had been failing in recent years, Marshall Thompson, of the Chi-Lites, told The Chicago Sun-Times. He was 84.

“All the 1970s bass singers learned a lot from Charles Barksdale,” Thompson said. “We learned how to sing under them.”

Barksdale was a founding member of The Dells doo-wop vocal group that started in 1952 in the Chicago suburb of Harvey.

The group's hit song, "Oh What a Night," reached No. 3 on the charts, according to The Dells' website. Other hits included "There Is," "Always Together" and "Stay in My Corner." Between 1965 and 1992, The Dells produced 46 songs that made the pop Top 40, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2004.

Many credit The Dells, along with groups like the Stylistics, the Delfonics and the Dramatics, with laying the groundwork for other vocal groups like New Edition, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys and N’Sync, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Director Robert Townsend has said The Dells served as inspiration for his movie, "The Five Heartbeats," according to Barksdale's obituary. Townsend posted a tribute to Barksdale on his Facebook page, saying, in part, "We lost a giant today."

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