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These 7 Musicians Are Connected to R&B Star Bobby Caldwell

Bobby Caldwell, known for the hit “What You Won’t Do for Love,” died Tuesday. Many music artists have worked with or sampled his music over the years.

Headshot of Tyler PiccottiBy Tyler Piccotti
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R&B singer Bobby Caldwell—best known for his 1978 hit “What You Won’t Do for Love,” which peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100—died Tuesday at age 71 after a long illness, according to the Associated Press.

But it would be unfair to call Caldwell, who was born in New York and grew up in Miami, a one-hit wonder. In addition to his signature song, Caldwell’s writing credits include a No. 1 pop hit and a handful of top-five contemporary tracks. Likewise, many other artists have either sampled or covered his songs with success. These are just a few of the notable artists connected to Caldwell.

Peter Cetera and Amy Grant

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Caldwell co-wrote the duo’s 1986 duet smash “The Next Time I Fall,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Cetera was a couple years into his solo career after leaving the band Chicago. Later, Caldwell co-wrote a top-five hit for Chicago inWhat Kind of Man Would I Be?,” first released in 1988.

Lil Nas X

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According to a July 2019 article from The Hollywood Reporter, The Music Force label sued Lil Nas X for copyright infringement because his song “Carry On” appropriated parts of Caldwell’s tune of the same name. The company claimed the song was a joint work and asked the court to award more than $25 million in damages. A December 2022 article reported the outcome of the lawsuit was unclear.


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Rapper Common sampled Caldwell’s “Open Your Eyes” in 2000 for his single “The Light,” which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance.

John Legend later covered the same Caldwell song on his 2013 album Love in the Future.

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Neil Diamond

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Caldwell was a lyricist for a pair of songs off Neil Diamond’s 1986 Headed for the Future album: “Angel” and “Love Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”

Tupac Shakur

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Tupac sampled “What You Won’t Do for Love” on his own track “Do For Love,” which was part of the posthumous R U Still Down? album from 1997.

Other artists who have covered Caldwell’s biggest song include Go West, Michael Bolton, Boyz II Men, Aretha Franklin, and Natalie Cole and Peabo Bryson.

Biggie Smalls

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Biggie sampled Caldwell’s “My Flame” for his song “Sky’s the Limit” almost 20 years after Caldwell’s 1979 release.

RELATED: How Biggie and Tupac Went From Friends to Music’s Biggest Rivals

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Chance the Rapper

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Chance the Rapper shared an Instagram post on March 15 of a text message conversation between him and Caldwell from September 2022. Caldwell granted Chance permission to sample one of his songs, with the rapper replying, “You are such an inspiration to me.”

Chance did not specify which song he sampled and said it was for a record that hasn’t come out yet.

Headshot of Tyler Piccotti
Tyler Piccotti
Associate News Editor,

Tyler Piccotti joined the staff in 2023, and before that had worked almost eight years as a newspaper reporter and copy editor. He is a graduate of Syracuse University, an avid sports fan, a frequent moviegoer, and trivia buff.

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