Pervis Staples, Who Harmonized With the Staple Singers, Dies at 85


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But by this point Pervis had gone to pursue his own endeavors.

Trying his way as an agent representing R&B group The Emotions, he opened Perv’s Place, a Chicago nightclub that became popular in the mid-1970s, before the advent of disco.

He rejoined the family group when they were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1999.

Pervis Staples was born on November 18, 1935 in Drew, west Mississippi, and grew up in Chicago. His father shoveled manure in stockyards and laid bricks before putting the family’s vocal group together. Pervis’ mother, Oceola (Ware) Staples, worked as a maid and laundress in a hotel.

He attended high school with future singing stars Sam Cooke and Lou Rawls. After class, Pervis and friends practiced singing under street lights and in Cooke’s basement. The boys had such cute voices, “They could get the mice to come down the bar and watch,” he said to Mr. Kot.

When Roebuck Staples founded the Staple Singers in 1948, Pervis sang the second lead role and hit the high notes. He was replaced as second leader by Mavis when his voice dropped an octave lower during puberty.

Pervis Staples graduated from Dunbar Vocational High School in 1954. He was drafted into the army in 1958 and honorably discharged in 1960.

Another sister, Yvonne, replaced Pervis when he left the Staple Singers. After Perv’s Place closed, he remained active in the music business.

Mr. Staples’ two marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his sister Mavis, who is now the last surviving member of the Staple Singers, as well as five daughters, Gwen Staples, Reverly Staples, Perleta Sanders, Paris Staples and Eala Sams. a son, Pervis; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

The Associated Press contributed to the coverage.



Robert Dunfee