McDaniels was famous for his 1961 hit "A Hundred Pounds of Clay," which reached No. 3 in the charts in 1961. He also recorded "Tower of Strength," "Chip Chip" and "Point of No Return."
According to Ruckert, McDaniels' composition jazz-soul protest song "Compared to What," made famous by Les McCann and Eddie Harris in 1968, has appeared in eight major films, including Ice Storm starring Sigourney Weaver, and Casino starring Robert DiNero. It was recorded last year by John Legend with The Roots. Hardcore punk band OFF! also has a stellar cover of that song.
As a music producer, McDaniels worked with A&M, MGM, BMG, CBS Sony, Capitol, Motown and many independent labels. Ruckert said that "Roberta Flack recorded more Gene McDaniels tunes than any other artist." In 1974, Roberta Flack reached No. 1 with "Feel Like Makin' Love," penned by McDaniels, which won a Grammy Award.
McDaniel's "Jagger the Dagger" was featured on the Tribe Vibes breakbeat compilation album, after it had been sampled by A Tribe Called Quest.
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McDaniels also appeared in films such as 1963's The Young Swingers and briefly in the 1974 film, Uptown Saturday Night. His website has a series of Youtube videos of McDaniels talking about his work.
At the time of his death, Ruckert said he was working with new singer/songwriter Mandy Bennett. Ruckert also said McDaniels died in his sleep.