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James Burke (2021), “O-o-h Child” singer with the Five Stairsteps

by Linnea Crowther

James Burke was a member of the Five Stairsteps, who had a hit in 1970 with “O-o-h Child.”

Music career

Burke formed the Five Stairsteps along with his brothers and sister as they were growing up in Chicago. Still teens when they began recording together, the siblings got their group name from their mother, who thought the looked like stairsteps when they lined up by height. After a few modest hits on the R&B chart, they scored a smash with “O-o-h Child,” a gentle song with encouraging lyrics that helped define the summer of 1970 for many listeners. Members of the Five Stairsteps later formed the Invisible Man’s Band and had an R&B hit with “All Night Thing.” Burke was also an artist, who earned a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago as a child.

Tributes to James Burke

Full obituary: Rolling Stone

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