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Five Stairsteps Facts

The Legacy of Five Stairsteps: The Story Behind the Soulful Group

If you are a fan of classic soul music, you have most likely heard of the iconic group, Five Stairsteps. The dynamic group has captivated audiences since the 1960s with their melodic soulful sound, which has become a staple in R&B music history. Over the years, Five Stairsteps has continued to inspire generations of musicians and fans alike. In this article, we will explore the history of the group, including their early beginnings, personal lives, chart-topping hits, and their significant impact on music culture in America.

Their Early Beginnings

The group Five Stairsteps originated in Chicago, Illinois, in the late 1960s. The group initially consisted of Alohe Jean Burke, Clarence Burke Jr., James Burke, Dennis Burke, and Kenneth Burke. The children of Clarence Burke Sr., a police officer, and Betty Burke, a nurse, the family was known for their musical talents from an early age. The family began performing in church and local talent shows, developing their musical style, which would later become their signature sound.

The Singer’s Bio

Clarence Burke Jr., the lead singer of Five Stairsteps, was born in Marianna, Arkansas, on May 25th, 1949. He was the second oldest and the main creative force of the quintet, writing and arranging most of their hit songs. Burke was a self-taught guitarist, pianist, and arranger, who began composing music and performing at a young age. By the time he was a teenager, he was already a seasoned performer and the architect of the group’s sound.

Personal Life

In his personal life, Clarence Burke Jr. was known for his easy-going nature and upbeat personality. He was married to his wife, Diane, for more than 30 years, and they have four adult children together. Burke was a devoted family man who was committed to his faith and his music. He passed away from complications from a stroke on May 26th, 2013, just one day after his 64th birthday.

Their Children

The Burke family’s musical legacy continued in their children, who formed the group Invisible Man’s Band. The group’s most notable hit was “All Night Thing,” a disco-flavored classic, which hit the top 10 on the R&B chart and the top 50 on the pop chart in 1980. The group consisted of two of Burke Jr.’s sons, O’Hare “Butch” Burke and Clarence “JR” Burke II.

Career Overview

Five Stairsteps’ career spanned two decades, from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Their first charting hit was “You Waited Too Long,” released on the Windy C record label in 1967. The song hit the top 10 on the R&B chart and the top 20 on the pop chart, establishing the group as a force in soul music. After this success, the group signed with Buddah Records, where they released their most iconic hit, “O-o-h Child,” in 1970. The song hit the top five on the pop chart, solidifying the group’s status as a crossover sensation.

Top Songs

In addition to “O-o-h Child,” Five Stairsteps had several other chart-topping hits, including “World of Fantasy,” “From Us to You,” and “Don’t Change Your Love.” Their sound, centered around Clarence Burke Jr.’s angelic falsetto and the group’s sweet harmonies, has become synonymous with the classic soul sound of the 1970s.

Net Worth

According to sources, Five Stairsteps’ net worth would have been approximately $2 million in 2021, factoring in their royalties, record sales, and other income sources. The group’s legacy has continued through the years, with their music being sampled by contemporary artists like Kanye West, Talib Kweli, and Kendrick Lamar.


Five Stairsteps was one of the most unique and innovative soul groups of their time, creating music that transcended racial and social barriers. Their ability to blend soul, pop, and funk into their music set them apart from their contemporaries, and their contributions to the music industry have not gone unnoticed. Clarence Burke Jr.’s legacy will continue to live on through his music, which has inspired countless artists to this day. Fans of classic soul music will forever be indebted to Five Stairsteps for their timeless contributions to the genre.

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