“Everlasting Love” Singer Dies In Music City

Nashville soul singer Robert Knight has passed away at age 72.

In 1967, he recorded the first version of the pop evergreen “Everlasting Love.” Written by Music City’s Buzz Cason and Mac Gayden, the song has since been recorded by hundreds, including Love Affair (1969), David Ruffin (1969), Carl Carlton (1974), Narvel Felts (1979), Louise Mandrell (1979), Rex Smith & Rachel Sweet (1981), U2 (1989), Gloria Estefan (1995) and David Essex (1995).

“Everlasting Love” also served as the title tune of Robert Knight’s debut LP. It was issued on Cason’s Rising Sons label, distributed by Monument Records. Cason and Gayden produced and arranged it.

Robert Knight was born Robert Peebles in Franklin, TN in 1945. Raised by his grandparents, he was singing professionally by the time he was a teenager.

He became a member of The Paramounts, who recorded for Dot Records in the early 1960s. At this point, DJ and music entrepreneur Noel Ball suggested he change his last name to Knight.

He was in the Nashville R&B group The Fairlanes when Mac Gayden heard him singing at the Kappa Sigma House on the Vanderbilt University campus and recruited him to record the songs that he and Cason were writing.

“Everlasting Love” became a hit on both pop and r&b charts. Knight followed it with the Cason/Gayden song “Blessed Are the Lonely” in 1968.

Ray Stevens provided Knight’s 1968 single “Isn’t It Lonely Together.” He returned to the Cason/Gayden catalog for “Love on a Mountain Top” in 1970.

Knight took his hits to the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He traveled with soul star Joe Tex for six months and became Aretha Franklin’s opening act on a European concert tour.

In the 1980s, “Everlasting Love” was revived to became a favorite on the “Beach Music” scene in the Carolinas.

But Robert Knight eventually drifted away from music. He worked at Vanderbilt as a lab technician and on the grounds crew.

In 2004, the Country Music Hall of Fame opened its acclaimed exhibit “Night Train to Nashville,” and Knight enjoyed a new moment in the spotlight. “Everlasting Love” was included on the show’s accompanying CD, which won a Grammy Award.

In recent years, Robert Knight had been suffering from emphysema and a blood disorder. He passed away on Sunday, Nov. 5. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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