Soul singer Luther Ingram dies, 69

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WASHINGTON -- Luther Ingram, the soul singer who seduced audiences with his hit "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" and wrote the Staple Singers hit "Respect Yourself," died Monday of a heart attack in Belleville, Ill. He was 69.

Ingram had diabetes and suffered kidney failure in 2003, his son Eric said.

"He couldn't tolerate the dialysis," said Eric, an aspiring music producer. "It began to take a toll on his heart, which caused his heart to fail."

Luther Ingram had been a part of the deep talent pool at the influential Memphis label Stax Records and its subsidiaries that included such soul music stars as Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. and the MG's and Rufus Thomas.

Two other acts had recorded "(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right" before Ingram, but neither version was released. Ingram decided to slow the song down for his version, which was released in May 1972.

With his intimate, gospel-flavored vocal, it quickly hit No. 1 on the R&B chart, went to No. 3 on the pop chart and became a radio standby that summer.

His other pop singles included "Ain't That Loving You (for More Reasons Than One)" and "I'll Be Your Shelter (in the Storm)."

The Staple Singers took "Respect Yourself" to No. 2 on the R&B chart and No. 13 on the pop chart. The single sold more than 1 million copies.

Ingram was born in Jackson, Tenn., and grew up in Alton, Ill. After singing with his family's gospel group, he and his brothers and friends formed the Gardenias and recorded with Ike Turner.

In the 1960s Ingram went to New York, writing with Johnny Nash and living across the hall from Jimi Hendrix. He first recorded for Smash Records in 1965, but he did not have a hit until 1969, when he recorded "Pity for the Lonely" and "My Honey and Me" for KoKo Records, a Stax Records partner.
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