Bobby Caldwell, the renowned R&B singer famous for his hit single “What You Won’t Do for Love,” has passed away at the age of 71. His wife, Mary Caldwell, announced his death on Twitter, revealing that he had been ill for several years due to floxing, a condition caused by fluoroquinolone antibiotic use.
Caldwell’s breakthrough hit, “What You Won’t Do for Love,” came out in 1978, after he had spent years playing in bars and recording demos in Los Angeles without much success. Miami label TK Records recognized his potential and gave him free rein in the studio to record his debut album. The completed self-titled album, which included “What You Won’t Do for Love,” was a hit, and the label’s concerns about marketing a white soul singer were proven wrong.
Even after TK went bankrupt in 1981, Caldwell continued to write and record pop hits, collaborating with the likes of Chicago and his former labelmate Boz Scaggs. His influence extended beyond his own releases, as his smooth and sample-friendly spin on soul and jazz was eagerly adopted by hip-hop producers. Caldwell’s songs were sampled by numerous artists, including The Notorious B.I.G., Aaliyah, 2Pac, Junior Boys, Jessie Ware, and many more.
In 2015, Caldwell made a triumphant comeback with the release of Cool Uncle, a collaborative project with producer Jack Splash. He also collaborated with Jessie Ware on her debut album, with the singer describing him as “one of the best.” On the news of his passing, Ware paid tribute to the singer on Instagram, stating that she was “lucky enough to be invited to sing on his last record” and that she will “be belting out ‘Open Your Eyes’ today and remembering the legend.”
Bobby Caldwell’s legacy as an R&B and soul singer is an indelible one. He touched the hearts of many with his music, and his influence continues to be felt in the music industry today. His contributions to music will be remembered for years to come.