Clarence was effectively the leader of the band. He not only wrote and produced their songs, he also played guitar and was their choreographer. Not yet 17, he wrote the group's first single 'You Waited Too Long' and watched it rise into the top ten of the Billboard R&B chart in 1966. Other hits included 'World Of Fantasy', 'Don't Change Your Love' and 'From Us To You', but it was their 1970 smash hit song full of promise and hope, simply called 'Ooh Child' with it's soulful uplifting line "things are gonna get easier' (actually written by Stan Vincent) that will forever be the band's calling card.
Since their original version was released the song has been covered countless times over the years and has been used in several TV shows and films, most notably featured in movie director John Singleton's stunning 1991 urban rites of passage debut, 'Boyz N The Hood'. In their poll of the 500 greatest songs of all time, Rolling Stone magazine rated 'Ooh Child' at niumber 402. The Five Stairsteps actually broke up in the late 70's but reformed during the 80's as The Invisable Man's Band and achieved a minor hit in 1980 with 'All Night Thing'. In later years Burke performed solo shows. R.I.P. Clarence Burke
I have included this classic 1970 clip of The Five Stairsteps performing 'Ooh Child' on the legendary 'Soul Train' TV show. Around a minute and a half into the performance you will see a fresh faced Keni Burke singing a verse while playing the bass guitar.