Originally published April 15, 2015
I cried a little when I read that the great Percy Sledge had passed away. He was 73 and died peacefully at his home in East Baton Rogue Parish, Louisiana.
Back in the late 1960’s I was working as a Top 40 rock jock, my first job in the biz. I loved new 45s from Atlantic Records. Atlantic discs felt “heavier” than releases on other labels. They had an aura of loving warmth. Percy Sledge’s When A Man Loves A Woman was an Atlantic release. The song is part of one of my most vivid radio experiences. I invite you to listen to it while I tell my story:
I had just started my first radio job as a KISD Good Guy in Sioux Falls. KISD’s air studio was in a large glass display window on a busy street. We called it The Window on Main Street.
|Me in The Window on Main Street|
People would walk and drive by the showcase window all day and night. Folks liked to see the DJ live on the air. I felt sort of like a monkey in a zoo.
The Window on Main Street was located in a seedy neighborhood close to several notorious strip clubs.
I worked the graveyard shift, so sometimes the people watching got interesting after the bars closed at 2:00am. Sometimes drunk bar patrons would pee on the window.
That night I decided to play When A Man Loves A Woman. As usual, I walked the ramp, a DJ term for introducing a song by talking over the instrumental intro. Then I got up for the air chair and walked by the The Window on Main Street.
A beautiful young Native American woman appeared on the other side of the glass, just inches from me. I think she was a dancer at one of the bars.
There was a speaker playing outside the window and she was singing along with Percy while looking through the glass at me. I went with my vibe and started singing along with Percy too. She and I were both mouthing the words and sorta dancing with each other. We both sang passionately. She and I both craved every word that Percy sang. We lived the song together. For a brief moment we had lonely connection. We were both crying as we sang together.
The song began to fade and I leaped back behind the control board. I hit a station jingle, and played the next record – Pushin’ To Hard by The Seeds. When I looked up, she was gone. But still think of her whenever I hear When A Man Loves A Woman. Thank you, Percy.