Sean Levert: Singer with LeVert
Wednesday 16 April 2008
Best known for the jittery single "Casanova", a hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1987, the R&B vocal trio LeVert comprised Sean Levert and his older brother Gerald – the sons of Eddie Levert, lead singer with the O'Jays, famed for the Seventies hits "Back Stabbers" and "Love Train"– and their friend Marc Gordon. "We grew up fast with my father being in the business," recalled Sean Levert. "He would take us out on the road in the summers when we were out of school. My brother did sing with the O'Jays onstage but I was always too scared."
Born in 1968, Sean joined his brother and Gordon in making up songs from his early teens. By 1983, they had enough original material to try and get a deal. The following year, the Tempre label put them in the studio with the producer Dexter Wansel to record the ballad "I'm Still" and an album called I Get Hot.
Co-written by Gerald Levert, who sang lead on the track, and his father Eddie, "I'm Still" bore an uncanny resemblance to the O'Jays material and created enough of a buzz for Atlantic Records to sign the new group. In 1986, "(Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop) Goes My Mind" was the first of five US R&B number ones for LeVert. As well as the Grammy-nominated "Casanova", these included "Addicted To You" in 1988, from the soundtrack of the film Coming to America. The group split up after releasing the album The Whole Scenario in 1997.
Sean Levert was less prolific as a writer than his two partners, but "Put Your Body Where Your Mouth Is" from his 1995 solo album The Other Side proved he was a fine singer. A $50-a-day marijuana habit led to convictions for driving while under the influence and a spell in rehab in the mid-Nineties. Then, following the death of Gerald Levert from an overdose of prescription drugs in 2006, Sean Levert and Gordon put together a new version of LeVert.
At the time of his death, Levert was a week into a 22-month jail sentence for non-payment of child maintenance.
Sean Levert, singer, songwriter and producer: born Cleveland, Ohio 28 September 1968; married (five children); died Cleveland 30 March 2008.
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