Eric Mercury, the Canadian singer-songwriter whose soulful vocals pushed the boundaries of rock music on his 1969 debut Electric Black Man, has died at age 77.
His niece Lee Ann Mercury says the Toronto-born musician died Monday in Montreal after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
We’re very sad to hear that the great Eric Mercury passed away yesterday. The celebrated singer, songwriter, producer, and actor not only sang with The Pharaohs and Eric Mercury And The Soul Searchers, but also had a successful solo career and starred in Jesus Christ Superstar. <a href=”https://t.co/FDLBAxcEUN”>pic.twitter.com/FDLBAxcEUN</a>
Mercury launched his career in the late 1950s just as Toronto’s music scene started to catch fire with a growing number of hot live venues.
He joined local band the Pharaohs before stepping to the front of the stage in the Soul Searchers, an act where he shared top billing with fellow lead singer Dianne Brooks.
| The title track from Mercury’s Electric Black Man:
By the late 1960s, he had moved to New York to pursue a solo career and released an energetic debut album Electric Black Man. Three more solo records followed in the 1970s.
Mercury would later join Stevie Wonder to co-write a song for Roberta Flack, appear in the 1978 drama American Hot Wax and lend his singing voice to the famous Be Like Mike Gatorade advertising campaign in the early 1990s.
| Gatorade’s Be Like Mike advertising campaign featuring Eric Mercury:
For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.