Pervis Staples, Co-Founder of the Staple Singers, Dies at 85

Pervis Staples—co-founding member of the legendary Staple Singers—has died, as Rolling Stone reports. Staples’ death was confirmed to RS by Adam Ayers—a member of Mavis Staples’ management team. Staples died at his home in Dolton, Illinois on May 6. A cause of death has not been announced. He was 85 years old.

The Staples Singers were formed by Roebuck “Pops” Staples in 1948. Pops was the father of Pervis (who sang tenor) and Pervis’ three sisters and bandmates: Mavis, Cleotha, and Yvonne. The family band initially sang gospel music, but later transitioned into the more pop-driven sounds of soul and R&B. Some of the Staple Singers’ best-known recordings emerged in the 1970s; hits like “Respect Yourself,” “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me),” “Let’s Do It Again” (produced by Curtis Mayfield), and more.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Mavis Staples said of her late brother: “Pervis was one of a kind—comical and downright fly. 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.”

She added that Pervis used to hang out with Sam Cooke, Lou Rawls, and Jerry Butler during his youth. “Pervis and the guys would stand under the lamp posts in the summertime singing doo-wop songs,” she said. Pervis was also a friend of Bob Dylan’s (the Staple Singers recorded a duet of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall” in 1965).

In 1999, the Staple Singers were inducted into he Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. They received a lifetime achievement award at the 2005 Grammy Awards.

Pops Staples died in 2000, followed by Cleotha in 2013. In 2018, Yvonne Staples died following a battle with colon cancer.