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  • Solomon Burke, the real King of Soul during the 1960s and ’70s, who sang his soulful gospel, country and R&B songs for countless audiences including the Pope, died suddenly early today (Oct. 10) on a trip to Amsterdam, according to his family. He was 70.

    Burke’s family post a death notice on his Web site. It said the singer died of natural causes, but did not provide further details.

    According to Dutch authorities, the booming soul singer, who was larger than life at over 300 pounds, died early Sunday at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport.

    Burke traveled from Los Angeles and died on the plane, according to police spokesman Robert van Kapel.

    Burke was scheduled to play Tuesday (Oct. 12) to a sellout crowd in a church converted into a concert hall in Amsterdam with local band De Dijk.

    During the boom in soul music in the 1960s, no one was more influential than Burke.

    But he stuck closely to his gospel roots and was overshadowed in popularity by such singers as James Brown and Marvin Gaye, who moved into the rock and pop mainstream and gained a wider following.

    In music circles, however, Burke is recognized as a true icon.

    He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and he never went out of style.

    He won a Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy in 2002 for his song, “Don’t Give Up On Me.”

    His best work included “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” in 1964.

    Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi in the movie “The Blues Brothers,” The Rolling Stones and Wilson Pickett also recorded it.

    In one of the most moving moments of the 1985 film, “Dirty Dancing” Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey danced to Burke’s song “Cry To Me.”

    “Although our hearts and lives will never be the same, his love, life and music will continue to live within us forever,” the Web site statement said.

    Burke leaves 21 children, 90 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.