Sam Gooden, Founding Member of The Impressions, Dies at 87

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The Impressions scored 39 Billboard Hot 100 hits and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991.

The Impressions in 1965

The Impressions (left to right: Curtis Mayfield, Sam Gooden and Fred Cash) pose for a portrait circa 1965 in New York City. James Kriegsmann/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Sam Gooden, one of the original members of the Chicago soul group The Impressions and a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, has died. He was 87.

His daughter, Gina Griffin, said Gooden died Thursday, a month shy of his 88th birthday, in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee, surrounded by his family. His death was first reported by WRCB-TV in Chattanooga.

The Impressions formed in the 1950s after Gooden and brothers Richard and Arthur Brooks met Curtis Mayfield and Jerry Butler in Chicago. Butler sang baritone lead on their breakthrough record in 1958, the classic ballad “For Your Precious Love,” although many of their hits featured Mayfield’s tenor, with Gooden singing bass behind him.

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The Impressions remained a top group in the 1960s, known for their gospel-styled harmonies and socially conscious songs. The group scored 39 Billboard Hot 100 hits (including three top 10s), 18 entries on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and six No. 1s and 20 top 10s on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. Mayfield helped write many of their hits, including the widely covered “People Get Ready” (No. 14 on the Hot 100), along with “Gypsy Woman” (No. 20), “Keep on Pushing” (No. 10), “We’re a Winner” (No. 14) and their highest-charting Hot 100 hit “It’s All Right” (No. 4).

The Impressions were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Seven years later, “People Get Ready” was voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Mayfield left the group in 1970 for a solo career, although he continued to write and help produce for The Impressions. Gooden and fellow Chattanoogan Fred Cash continued to sing as The Impressions along with other lead singers, including Leroy Hutson. They toured until 2018.

–Additional reporting by Gary Trust

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