One of the original R & B groups, The Whispers, lost their co-founder and very dear friend. Nicholas “Nick” Caldwell died Tuesday in his California home. However, because of speculation about his heart condition and conflicting reports, the exact cause of his death is currently unknown. Caldwell was 71.
Caldwell wrote a letter last summer for The Whispers’ publicist, Willette Ballard, to post on Facebook about his absence from the group’s shows.
“In January of this year… my cardiology team at Stanford University Hospital were all in agreement that my congestive heart failure had deteriorated to the point that they thought I had 3 to 6 months to live.
“So, my family and I decided it best that I take advantage of a relatively new technology called an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device), which if successful could extend my life expectancy by years.”
The Whispers began performing together in 1963 as The Eden Trio, created by Nicholas Caldwell, Marcus Hutson, and Gordy Harmon. It was not long before they invited their friends, twin brothers Wallace “Scotty” and Walter Scott to join them. They adopted their current name from Lou Bedell of Dore Records.
Caldwell and his band were among the pioneers of the R & B sound, and for decades they influenced younger musicians like Will Smith, who used pieces of The Whispers’ song “And the Beat Goes On” for his own track, “Miami.” Caldwell also wrote a few songs for the band, including the song “Lady,” which drew positive responses from fans worldwide. The Whispers are in the small handful of classic R & B groups that have over 40 years in the industry, and a large, worldwide fan base under their belt.
— WBSS (@WBSS) January 6, 2016
Caldwell and his friends had an illustrious career. They were hot on the charts during the 1970s and 80s, driving multiple singles to the top of the soul and dance charts. They even opened their own production label called Satin Tie Productions. In June of 2005, The Whispers received the Governors Award, which is the highest honor a Grammy Awards Chapter can deliver. In 2014, the group was inducted into the official R & B Music Hall of Fame.
Harmon was the first member to leave the band after he damaged his larynx in a car accident in 1973. The group recruited Leaveil Degree, a former Friends of Distinction member, later that same year. Hutson left the band in 1989 after receiving a diagnosis of prostate cancer. He battled the cancer until he died in 2000. The Whispers chose not to replace their fallen friend as they had when Harmon left. The death of Caldwell now leaves only two original members of the group, the twin Scott brothers.
Caldwell and his friends released their last album in 2006. They dedicated the suggestive title, For Your Ears Only, to their faithful fans of so many years.
“In my opinion, the CD represents the musical DNA and artistic expression of what The Whispers were and have become during their 42 years together. It was conceived to please the ears, hearts and minds of our super-supportive and loyal family of fans. It was a labor of love and I believe a body of work blessed by God,” Caldwell said.
Despite all the fame, The Whispers remained very down-to-earth and humble. Caldwell and his gang also made a big splash with their charity work. They invested themselves in the youth in the Police Athletic League Reading Program, also known as PAL. They are also actively involved in several cancer and domestic violence organizations.
Rest In Peace sweet brother Nicholas Caldwell of the legendary group THE WHISPERS. Bless your soul!???????????????????????? 1/5/16 pic.twitter.com/A2SXdTHRnG
— Teena Marie (@MsTeenaMarie) January 6, 2016
The Whispers have not released any plans for their future since the loss of another dear friend. Fans worldwide grieve not only for Nicholas “Nick” Caldwell, but also for his band and family members. The world lost another great musician.
[Photo by Taylor Weidman/Getty Images]