FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – I found a CD at home that I had not listened to in a while from the late R&B singer/songwriter Edwin Starr.
Born Charles Edwin Hatcher in 1942 in Tennessee, he grew up in Cleveland. He was a member of Bill Doggett’s band right after he finished his military service. He left the band around 1965 to sign with Ric Tic Records and relocated to Detroit. As you may know, Detroit was also the home of Motown Records and its legendary leader Berry Gordy, who later bought out Ric Tic Records while Starr was under contract to Ric Tic.
While recording for Gordy, Starr hit the Billboard charts with “Twenty-Five Miles” in 1969 and then, one year later, hit No. 1 with “War,” released shortly after an escalation took place during the Vietnam War. Starr had one more Billboard hit in 1971, “Stop The War Now,” but that would be it as far as the Billboard Top 40 was concerned. He later moved to Europe and performed there until his death in 2003.
The song we are highlighting today is the one that got him started and got noted later by Motown Records. Written by Starr and Bill Sharpley during the James Bond movie craze of the ’60s, the song exemplifies the strength and beauty of Starr’s voice. It hit the charts on September 4, 1965 and reached No. 21 on the Billboard Top 40, but No. 8 on the American R&B charts.
The lyrics go like this:
I dig rock and roll music
I can do the twine and the jerk
I wear strictly continental suits
And high collared shirts
I’ve got a reputation of being
Gentle but bold
And that’s why they call me
Agent Double-O-Soul, baby!
They call me Double-O-Soul, baby
I’m Agent Double-O-Soul
The beginning of this song was used as a imaging bumper on the Imus in the Morning show during its heyday on CBS Radio’s WFAN Sports Radio 66 (formerly WNBC Radio). The bump featured stanza one, through the line “and that’s what they call me,” and then you would hear the Imus jingle. No doubt that Imus played this song during his music radio days in the ’60s before he became a talk show host. As a side note, WFAN has an FM outlet in New York on the 101.9 frequency.
So, here it is, from 1965, and what started his career going… Edwin Starr with “Agent Double-O-Soul!”