Nicholas Caldwell, Cofounder of the Whispers, Dead at 71

Singer died of congestive heart failure

Nicholas Caldwell, cofounding member of R&B group The Whispers, has died at the age of 71 Credit: Michael Ochs/Getty

Nicholas Caldwell, a cofounding member of R&B group The Whispers, has died. He was 71.

As the Associated Press reports, a representative for the group said Caldwell died on Tuesday of congestive heart failure at his home in San Francisco.

The Whispers formed in 1963 in San Francisco as a quintet, and initially comprised twin brothers Walter and Wallace Scott, Caldwell, Marcus Hutson and Gordy Harmon. Harmon left in 1973 and Leaveil Degree joined the group that same year.

With more than a couple dozen albums under their belt, many of which appeared in the Billboard 200, and two – 1980's The Whispers, which was the group's first album to go platinum, and 1982's Love Is Where You Find It ­– topped the R&B albums chart, they've had a productive five-decade-long career.

In 1969, The Whispers made some waves on the soul charts for the first time with their song "The Time Has Come," and in 1970 they made their first entrance into the R&B Top 10 with "Seems Like I Gotta Do Wrong." They continued to make the charts in the 1980s with disco-tinged "And The Beat Goes On," which Will Smith sampled on his hit track, "Miami," and The Whispers hit No. 1 with their smash R&B and pop hit "Rock Steady" in 1987 with Kenneth "Babyface" Evans. The group's repertoire spanned Christmas and also gospel albums. They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2011, according to an interview with Tavis Smiley. The group continued to be active and performed live steadily, including a show on Saturday in Hammond, Indiana, as Entertainment Weekly reports.

After Hutson passed away in 2000, the group comprised Caldwell, the Scott brothers and Degree.

Caldwell also penned some of the group's songs, including "Lady."