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Soul Singer Jessica Cleaves Dies at 65

Jessica Cleaves, the female lead singer of the 70s soul-pop group the Friends of Distinction died Friday in a Los Angeles hospital following complications from a stroke. She was 65.

Cleaves joined the Friends of Distinction, formed by Cleaves, Harry Elston, Floyd Butler and Barbara Love,  in the late ’60s and the group’s first single “Grazin’ in the Grass” reached the top five on both the pop and soul charts in 1969.

She later left the group to join the then-fledgling Chicago band Earth Wind and Fire and recorded the albums “Last Days and Time” and “Head to the Sky.”

Cleaves then moved to Detroit and joined forces with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic for several recordings, including “Computer Games,” “R&B Skeletons in the Closet” and “Dope Dogs.” Shortly thereafter, she disappeared from the public eye. 

Clinton wrote on the singer’s memorial page, “Our friend Jessica Cleaves left us today. Jessica, you will truly be missed, it was a great honor to funk with you.”

Cleaves’ associate and friend Kelly Shapiro told EURweb that the singer’s godson, filmmaker Armand Araujo, was in the process of filming “Jessica Cleaves, My Friends of Distinction” at the time of her death. 

Memorial services are scheduled for May 9 in San Pedro, Calif.

 

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