R&B legend Bobby Caldwell, sometimes fondly known as the Cat in the Hat after his 1980 sophomore album of that name, has died at the age of 71, according to his wife Mary Caldwell via his Twitter account. “Bobby passed away here at home,” she wrote. “I held him tight in my arms as he left us. I am forever heartbroken. Thanks to all of you for your many prayers over the years. He had been “FLOXED,” it took his health over the last 6 years and 2 months. Rest with God, my Love.”
“Floxing” is a nickname for an adverse reaction to quinolone antibiotics, which are used to treat some bacterial infections, particularly for urinary tract infections or for immunocompromised patients. Children and the elderly are at greater risk of having an adverse reaction.
Caldwell is perhaps best known for his 1978 hit, “What You Won’t Do for Love,” which became a staple of R&B — and later, adult contemporary — radio. Such is the popularity of the hit that the singer was known for good-naturedly responding to fans on Twitter who noted their astonishment at learning that he was white and not Black. His label, TK Records, actually took pains to hide that fact on his first album cover, photographing him in silhouette in the hopes of making him more marketable to a Black audience.
“What You Won’t Do for Love” reached No. 9 on the Hot 100 and ended up being sampled by the likes of Tupac, so it must have worked. Other notable hip-hop samples from Caldwell’s catalog include “My Flame” from The Notorious B.I.G.’s “Sky’s the Limit” and “Open Your Eyes” from Common’s “The Light.” Caldwell continued recording through 2015, when he released Cool Uncle. His impact can never be overstated, and he will be missed.