Pervis Staples of the seminal gospel group The Staple Singers died on May 6th at the age of 85 in his Dolton, Illinois home.
News of his passing was announced on May 12th and was confirmed by Adam Ayers, a member of his sister Mavis Staples’ management team. The cause of death is currently unknown. Funeral services will be held on May 17th in Chicago.
“Pervis was one of a kind — comical and downright fly,” Mavis said in a statement. “He would want to be remembered as an upright man, always willing to help and encourage others. He was one of the good guys and will live on as a true Chicago legend.”
Pervis Staples was born in November 1935 in Drew, Mississippi before his family later moved to Chicago. The Staple Singers were formed in 1948 when the family’s patriarch, Roebuck “Pop” Staples, began performing with Pervis and his other children, Cleotha and Mavis. Their late sister Yvonne first joined the band after Pervis was drafted into the army.
In the group, Pervis sang tenor and backed up Pop with Mavis and Cleotha. He eventually pushed his father to branch out into more secular music, which led to Pervis and Mavis recording a well-known cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall”.
After the Staple Singers released 1968’s Soul Folk in Action, Pervis left the group. He wound up managing Chicago’s Hutchinson Sunbeams, who later became the Emotions, and opened the successful nightclub Perv’s House.
In 1999, Pervis and the group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005, with the Recording Academy noting they “left an imprint of soulful voices, righteous conviction and danceable message music across the decades.” The Gospel Music Hall of Fame inducted The Staple Singers in 2018.
Pop Staples passed away in 2000 and Cleotha died in 2003, while Yvonne departed from this world in 2018. Mavis continues to record new music, releasing We Get By in 2019 and appearing on Run the Jewels’ 2020 track, “Pulling the Pin”.