Robert Knight, ‘Everlasting Love’ Singer, Dead at 72

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The singer who first put the enduring R&B-country classic “Everlasting Love” on the charts, Robert Knight, died Sunday (Nov. 5) following a short illness. Knight, who was 72, died in Tennessee; no cause of death has yet been reported.

The upbeat number, written by Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden, was recorded by Knight in Nashville in 1967. The musicians accompanying Knight on the tack included Nashville session mainstays Kenny Buttrey (drums), Norbert Putnam (bass), Charlie McCoy (harmonica) and Gayden on guitar. Cason and Carol Montgomery sang the background vocals. Released on the Rising Sons label, and originally intended as a B-side, it reached #13 on the Billboard singles chart in the fall of 1967.

While Knight’s career as a hitmaker was short, his signature tune was just beginning its own life. In 1974, a remake by Carl Carlton surpassed Knight’s version on the U.S. Billboard chart, making it all the way to #6. A duet by Rex Smith and Rachel Sweet made #32 in 1981, while Gloria Estefan‘s cover went up to #27 in 1995.  Dozens of other artists have covered the song in various styles.

Listen to “Everlasting Love” by Robert Knight

Knight was born Robert Peebles on April 24, 1945, in Franklin, Tenn. He formed a group called the Paramounts, which signed with Dot Records in 1960 and recorded a track called “Free Me,” which failed to chart. After the group split, Knight attended college to study chemistry while singing with another group called the Fairlanes.

Related: What were the top radio hits of 1967?

Robert Knight

While singing with that group, Knight was signed as a solo artist to the independent Rising Sons label, which matched his smooth pop-soul voice with “Everlasting Love,” with “Somebody’s Baby” on the B-side. Knight proved to be a one-hit wonder, however. His Rising Sons followup, “Blessed Are the Lonely,” topped out at #97, the same chart position reached by his final Hot 100 placement, 1968’s “Isn’t It Lonely Together,” on the Elf label. In England, where “Everlasting Love” (released on Monument Records) only made #40, he had a #10 hit with “Love on a Mountain Top” in 1974. (In the U.K., “Everlasting Love” was a hit for the group Love Affair in 1968, rising to #1.)

As for Knight, he eventually found work as a chemistry teacher and chemical lab technician, while continuing to appear at oldies concerts to sing his one big hit. He recorded many other singles but never managed to find his way back to the charts.

Watch Knight sing his hit song later in his career

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Listen to “Blessed Are the Lonely,” Knight’s followup to his biggest hit

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