Jessica Cleaves, the female lead singer of the 70s soul-pop group the Friends of Distinction died last Friday (05-02-14) in a Los Angeles hospital following complications from a stroke. She was 65.
Cleaves joined the Friends of Distinction, formed by Cleaves, Harry Elston, Floyd Butler and Barbara Love, in the late ’60s and the group’s first single “Grazin’ in the Grass” reached the top five on both the pop and soul charts in 1969.
She later left the group to join the then-fledgling Chicago band Earth Wind and Fire and recorded the albums “Last Days and Time” and “Head to the Sky.” Cleaves was gone from EWF by the time of the group’s breakout album, “That’s The Way of the World”, but her work during her brief period in the band had many highlights.
Cleaves then moved to Detroit and joined forces with George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic for several recordings. Among her recordings with the group(s) are:
Gloryhallastoopid (or Pin the Tale on the Funky) (Parliament, 1979)
Uncle Jam Wants You (Funkadelic, 1979)
Trombipulation (Parliament, 1980)
Computer Games (George Clinton, 1982)
R&B Skeletons in the Closet (George Clinton, 1986)
The Cinderella Theory (George Clinton, 1989)
Hey, Man, Smell My Finger (George Clinton, 1993)
Dope Dogs (Parliament-Funkadelic, 1994)
Shortly thereafter, she disappeared from the public eye. When Clinton heard of Cleaves death, he wrote on the singer’s memorial page:
“Our friend Jessica Cleaves left us today. Jessica, you will truly be missed, it was a great honor to funk with you.”
Jessica Cleaves may be gone, but her friends and family will celebrate her life this Friday (05-09-14) at 3pm in memorial services aboard the SS Lane in San Pedro, CA, according to Kelly Shapiro, an associate/friend of Cleaves.
Cleaves’ associate and friend Kelly Shapiro told EURweb that the singer’s godson, filmmaker Armand Araujo, was in the process of filming “Jessica Cleaves, My Friends of Distinction” at the time of her death.