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R&B performer Rudy Love dies at the age of 73

Carla Eckels

Wichita native Rudy Love, of sibling soul group Rudy Love & the Love Family, has died. He was 73 years old.

Wichita native Rudy Love Sr. began his music career following in the footsteps of his father, Robert Love Sr.

"My father and Don Level wrote 'Good Morning Little School Girl,' which is the second most recorded song in rock and roll history," Love said in a 2018 KMUW interview. "So we had a lot to live up to. They were famous gospel singers years ago."

Love became a songwriter for Little Richard at the age of 17. He once was a demo vocalist for Motown. Love worked with Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles and Carlos Santana, and he also collaborated and recorded with Sly Stone of the band Sly and the Family Stone.

In early 1974, Sly and the Family Stone had disbanded, and Sly gathered new musicians around him for a solo release called "High On You." Love was featured on the majority of the songs on the release, including "Crossword Puzzle."

Love is quoted in the liner notes as saying, "I couldn't believe that Sly had written a song as great as "Crossword Puzzle," and I was pleased that he let me go in and sing whatever I wanted to upon it. When I got through, he congratulated me and said 'I had the nerve to have attitude.' He liked that about me, so then he let me do quite a few more vocals."

In 2018, the documentary "This Is Love" was released.

The film, about his life, features Funkadelic's George Clinton, Fleetwood Mac's Mick Fleetwood and comedian Sinbad.

When asked about his first reaction to the film, Love said he teared up.

"When I finally saw the film, it was in London at the Raindance Film Festival," Love said in a KMUW interview. "I hate to admit it, but I just started bawling like a baby because of all this time waiting to do this, and we started thinking about doing this when we were kids and that's why we have all that film [footage] from past times."

The movie won awards in 40 countries, including at its world premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in 2018.

Earlier this year, the City of Wichita and Sedgwick County both proclaimed July 21 Rudy Love Day in his honor.

Love was recognized for his musical contributions and his giving spirit through benefit concerts locally and out of state. He has also been inducted into the Kansas Music Hall of Fame.

Many of his long-time fans point to "This Song Is For You" as Rudy Love's signature song. It's the title cut on the Rudy Love & The Love Family album released in 1978.

His brother Bob Love has said fans won't allow the band to leave a venue without performing it.

When asked about his favorite song, Rudy Love gave it some thought.

"I would have to say 'I Thank You Lord' because it's just my summation of all my life of music," Rudy said in a 2018 interview. "I think 'I Thank You Lord' expresses … I have no talent without the Lord, so saying that in a song, that sums it up for me."

Funeral services for Love are pending.

Carla Eckels is Director of Organizational Culture at KMUW. She produces and hosts the R&B and gospel show Soulsations and brings stories of race and culture to The Range with the monthly segment In the Mix. Carla was inducted into The Kansas African American Museum's Trailblazers Hall of Fame in 2020 for her work in broadcast/journalism.