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Melvin Bliss

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Melvin Bliss
Birth nameMelvin McClelland
Born(1945-06-01)June 1, 1945
OriginChicago, Illinois[1]
DiedJuly 7, 2010(2010-07-07) (aged 65)
Years active1973 (1973)[2]–2010 (2010)[3]
LabelsSunburst Records[2]
Associated actsHerb Rooney, Bernard Purdie

Melvin McClelland[4] (June 1, 1945[2]-July 26, 2010[3]) was a rhythm and blues singer known for his 1973 song "Reward/Synthetic Substitution",[5] the B-side of which was heavily sampled[3] in at least 94 hip hop songs such as "Real Niggaz Don't Die" and Alwayz into Somethin' by N.W.A, O.G. Original Gangster by Ice-T, O.P.P. by Naughty by Nature and more recently "My Life" by 50 Cent, Eminem and Adam Levine.[6]

Born in 1945[2] in Chicago[1] as Melvin McClelland,[4] his career didn't begin with music; rather, in the Armed Forces.[7] After spending a few years singing in Naval bands, he departed the Navy in the mid-1950s. From there, he went from stage to stage until the early 1970s, when in an attempt to boost his career prospects he visited a Queensbridge concert hall intending to use it for self-promotion.[7] Whilst awaiting a meeting with the hall's owner, he encountered the mother of Herb Rooney and it emerged that he wanted a singer to record one of his compositions.[7] After an informal discussion with Rooney himself, Bliss hit the studio to record it;[7] the result was Reward. That song's B-side, "Synthetic Substitution", became one of the most sampled songs of all time.[8] Unfortunately, Bliss' label, Sunburst Records, was a sister company of Opal Productions, and in 1974 it went bankrupt, taking Sunburst Records with it;[7] in doing so rendering Bliss a one-hit wonder.

In 2011, a documentary about him, Synthetic Substitution: The Life Story of Melvin Bliss, was released by Peripheral Enterprises. It was produced by Earl Holder.[1]


On July 17, 2010, it was announced by Melvin Bliss, Jr. that Bliss had suffered a heart attack and had been rushed to NewYork–Presbyterian Hospital.[9] Just over a week later, on July 26, 2010, it was announced that Bliss had died.[3]


  1. ^ a b c ""Synthetic Substitution" Singer / Sample Icon Melvin Bliss Dies". Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Introducing Melvin Bliss". Blues & Soul. Retrieved 8 June 2013. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d Melvin Bliss, R.I.P. Hua Hsu. The Atlantic. Jul 27 2010
  4. ^ a b Batey, Angus (23 June 2011). "Recycled riffs:samples of music biz justice". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  5. ^ "Melvin Bliss". Wax Poetics. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  6. ^ "RIP Melvin Bliss". Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  7. ^ a b c d e Holder, Earl (2011). Synthetic Substitution: The Life Story of Melvin Bliss (Motion picture). Peripheral Enterprises.
  8. ^ "Melvin Bliss - Synthetic Substitution (Documentary)". Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  9. ^ "MELLE MEL (LAMBSTAR)". Twitter. Retrieved 14 May 2013.
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