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Robert Knight (1945 – 2017), “Everlasting Love” singer

Getty Images for The Country Music Hall Of Fame And Museum / Photo by Rick Diamond

Robert Knight (1945 – 2017), “Everlasting Love” singer

Robert Knight, singer on the original version of the iconic song “Everlasting Love,” has died at the age of 72, according to The Tennessean.

The Tennessean reported that Knight passed away on Sunday (Nov. 5) following a short, undisclosed illness. 

“Everlasting Love” was one of the biggest songs to come out of Nashville. Written by Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden, Knight’s rendition of the R & B song made it to number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1967. 

Knight was born in Franklin, Tennessee in 1945. He sang in a vocal group called The Paramounts. The group was not successful and Knight attended Tennessee State University to study chemistry. He also sang with a group called The Fairlanes. 

In 1967, The Fairlanes were performing at a fraternity at Vanderbilt University. Mac Gayden heard him sing and was very impressed. He told The Tennessean, “I heard "this voice coming from the Kappa Sigma House." Gayden ran over there and met Knight as he was coming off the stage. "He didn't want to talk to me, but I gave him my card," Gayden remembered.


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Gayden and Cason signed Knight to their Rising Sons record label and began working with him on an album that would include “Everlasting Love.” 

Knight’s soaring vocals over the irresistible catchy melody created an iconic song that endures today. The song has been covered by many artists including Gloria Estefan, U2, and Carl Carlton. 

In a 2016 interview with Rebeat Magazine, Knight recalled the song that made him famous. 

“Buzz and Mac were country artists, and I was R&B, and so I had to make it more of an R&B song.“ I practiced and practiced on it -- it was a hard song to sing because, at the time, it was hard to sing a fast song slow. I didn’t sing it the way they had written it. I made some changes to fit my voice, and I didn’t do it note for note. They had the melody going too fast, and it was jamming, it wasn’t doing right, it wasn’t sounding right. So I started what you call a steady step. I start singing a beat and a half: ‘hearts-go-a-stray’ -- like that. It wasn’t like that in the beginning, and I think that’s what got ‘Everlasting Love’ off the ground.” 

“Everlasting Love” is also notable as Knight recorded the song with an integrated band during the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Michael Gray from the Country Music Hall of Fame told The Tennessean, “The original version of 'Everlasting Love' is a prime example of the successful musical exchange between black and white musicians during a decade of great racial upheaval and Civil Rights struggles in the South." 

After the success of “Everlasting Love,” Knight had a handful of minor hits. He charted in England in the early 1970s as Northern Soul DJ’s put his 1968 song “Love on a Mountain Top” into heavy rotation. 

After his music career, Knight worked at Vanderbilt as a lab technician and on the grounds crew. 

He was featured in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's exhibit "Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm and Blues," which opened in 2004 and ran for over a year. 

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