Soul Serenade - LatimoreThe music business has a long history of artists who go by just one name. Think Prince, or Cher, or Madonna. I suppose the feeling is that if you can be known by just one name you must be someone important, and as you can see from the list above, that’s usually the case. I don’t think Latimore can lay claim to the same rarified air that the others breathe, but earned his single-name designation in his own way.

He had two names at the start, as we all do. He was Benjamin Latimore when he was born in Charleston, Tennessee. Because of his location, he was able to draw on influences from country music, gospel music, and blues. Somehow he found his way to Florida, and he got his first professional work playing piano for artists who were based there, like Joe Henderson, and Steve Alaimo.

The unquestioned king of Miami music was Henry Stone, and in 1965 Stone signed Latimore to his Dade Records label. It took several years, and a move to Stone’s Glade Records label, but Latimore persevered and eventually had his first chart hit in 1973 with his cover of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday.”The following year, Latimore scored again with “If You Were My Woman.” The song, which was written by Pam Sawyer and Gloria Jones, had been a hit for Gladys Knight & the Pips. A little gender modification of the lyrics, and Latimore took his version to #70 on the R&B chart.

It was a good start, but the best was yet to come. Latimore followed-up “If You Were My Woman” with the single “Let’s Straighten it Out.” The song was written by Latimore, and the record shot to #1 on the R&B chart, and crossed over to #31 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. It was his biggest, but not his last hit. He scored a #5 R&B hit with “Keep the Home Fires Burnin'” in 1975, and a #7 R&B hit the following year with “Something’ ‘Bout ‘Cha.”

When the hits stopped coming in Miami, Latimore moved on to Malaco Records, and he recorded seven blues albums for the label. He recorded an album called Latt is Back for Brittney Records in 2003, and four years later he reunited with Henry Stone to form a label they called, understandably, LatStone. Their label released the Back ‘Atcha album in 2007.

Latimore has continued to work as a session piano player. You may have heard him as part of the Miami soul contingent that graced the first two Joss Stone albums. The other players included Betty Wright, Timmy Thomas, and Willie Hale.