Luther Ingram was a soul singer and songwriter who rose to fame in the 1970s with his hit “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right”. He also co-wrote the Staple Singers’ anthem “Respect Yourself”. He died on March 19, 2007, at the age of 69, of heart failure, after suffering from diabetes, kidney disease and partial blindness for years. His death was a great loss for the music industry and his fans, who remembered him as a talented and passionate artist.
A Musical Journey
Ingram was born on November 30, 1937, in Jackson, Tennessee. He moved to Alton, Illinois, with his family when he was 10 years old. He started singing and writing songs as a child, and formed a gospel group with his brothers called the Alton Crusaders. He later switched to secular music and performed with Ike Turner at clubs in East St. Louis. He also shared a room with Jimi Hendrix in New York, where he recorded his first solo record in 1965.
He signed with Koko Records, a small label owned by his manager and producer Johnny Baylor, in the late 1960s. He had his first hit with “My Honey And Me” in 1970, which reached No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100. He also wrote songs for other artists, such as the Staple Singers, for whom he co-wrote “Respect Yourself” in 1971, which became a million-selling hit and a civil rights anthem.
His biggest success came in 1972, when he recorded “(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right”, a song written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson. The song was a soulful ballad about an illicit affair, and it resonated with audiences across the country. It topped the Billboard R&B chart and reached No. 3 on the Hot 100, selling over four million copies. It was also covered by many artists, such as Millie Jackson, David Ruffin, Rod Stewart and Barbara Mandrell.
Ingram continued to record and perform throughout the 1970s and 1980s, scoring more hits such as “Ain’t That Loving You (For More Reasons Than One)”, “I’ll Be Your Shelter (In Time of Storm)” and “You Never Miss Your Water”. He also opened for Isaac Hayes and used his band and backup singers for his recordings. He was known for his expressive and emotional voice, his versatile style and his charismatic stage presence.
A Tragic End
Ingram’s health began to decline in the mid-1990s, as he suffered from diabetes, kidney disease and partial blindness. He underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, but his condition did not improve. He died on March 19, 2007, at a hospital in Belleville, Illinois, of heart failure. He was survived by his wife, Jacqui Ingram, and his six children.
His death was mourned by his colleagues, friends and fans, who paid tribute to him as a soul legend and a trailblazer. He was inducted into the Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2015, and his songs have been sampled by artists such as Jay-Z, Kanye West and Mary J. Blige. He left behind a legacy of timeless music that touched millions of hearts.