Beloved St. Louis singer Lamont Hadley Sr. died last month after being diagnosed with COVID-19. He was 53.
In a recent memorial in the St. Louis American, Sylvester Brown Jr. reported that Hadley was perhaps best known for his work with the all-male vocal group Master’s Touch. In the late 1980s, the group sold out local venues and opened for legends including Peabo Bryson, Gerald Levert, Ronald Isley and the Delfonics.
But Hadley performed with numerous other groups, including Fire Five, Rare Form and Lamont and the Hadley Band. With Rare Form, he opened for Kenny Rogers and Sheryl Crow. His manager, James Witherspoon, told the American that they were working on a new CD when Hadley ended up in the hospital.
Initially diagnosed with pneumonia, he was diagnosed with COVID-19 only after checking into the hospital, his longtime partner Bridgette West explained Friday on St. Louis on the Air.
Both Hadley’s sister and mother survived the disease. Hadley did not. He died on Aug. 21 after nearly six weeks in the hospital.
Hadley Sr. traveled the world as a performer. But he brought the same ability to connect to his job as a school bus driver as he did to the stage of the Fox Theatre.
“All of the kids love him,” West said. “We would be out, and all of the kids would say, ‘Hey Mr. Hadley! You don’t remember me? You was my school bus driver!’ He used to take the kids on Friday, and when he got paid, they knew that was the day he’d take them to the store, get them something to eat before he’d drop them off at home. And those kids loved him.”
“He talks to anybody,” recalled his son, Lamont Hadley Jr. “Me and my mom, we’d be out shopping, he know everybody. He’s going to stand there and give you his undivided attention, to anybody, I don’t care who it is. His persona was not, ‘I’m a legend.’ With his craft, he’s going to show you he’s a legend, but as far as his personality, he’s going to talk to anybody and show you just an abundance of love when he’s around, family and friends.”
Yet despite that friendly personality, he approached his work with intensity, his son said.
“To see him get prepared for the shows — he shows it onstage in front of the audience, but me and my mom see these things behind the scenes. And he gets in this zone,” Hadley Jr. recalled. “He don’t want no arguments, he don’t want no talking. He just thinks about this show. He goes into another zone, like Jordan in the fourth quarter.”
Lamont Hadley Sr.’s funeral is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Ambassador Center.
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.