On this day in music history: June 18, 1977 – “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Stevie Nicks, it is lone chart topper for the Anglo/American rock band led by drummer Mick Fleetwood. During the sessions for “Rumours” album, Stevie Nicks finds herself with time on her hands while her band mates are recording overdubs in one of the other rooms. She takes an electric piano with her into the room built for musician Sly Stone at The Record Plant in Sausalito, CA, and begins playing around with some chords. Nicks writes “Dreams” in about ten minutes, later showing it to Lindsey Buckingham who assists her in arranging the song’s final structure. The band record it the following day, with the basic track being cut while Nicks sings her vocal live. Though only the lead vocal and drum are all that are used from that initial session on the finished record. The other instruments are re-recorded and additional vocals are overdubbed in Los Angeles at later sessions. Released as the follow up to “Go Your Own Way” (#10 Pop) on March 24, 1977, “Dreams” quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #77 on April 16, 1977, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. It is later covered by The Corrs in 1998 for the Fleetwood Mac tribute album “Legacy: A Tribute to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours”, to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the original albums’ release. In 2005, Stevie Nicks sings on a cover version of “Dreams” recorded by the electronica dance duo Deep Dish. “Dreams” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 17, 1978 – “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks, also peaking at #11 on the R&B singles chart on July 15, 1978. Written by Barry, Robin, Maurice and Andy Gibb, it is the third consecutive chart topper for the singer and songwriter from The Isle Of Man, UK. While his debut single “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” and the accompanying album “Flowing Rivers” are steadily climbing the charts in the US and abroad, singer Andy Gibb, with the assistance of his older brothers the Bee Gees begin work on his second album. All four brothers collaborate on “Shadow Dancing” while the Bee Gees are filming “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in L.A. in mid 1977. Recording begins at Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles, CA, with overdubs and final mixing completed at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL. Released as a single in April 1978, it becomes another smash for the youngest Gibb brother. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on April 15, 1978, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. At only twenty years old, Andy Gibb becomes the first solo artist in history to have his first three singles reach number one in the US, achieving this feat in just eleven months. The song is ranked the top single of 1978 by Billboard Magazine. "Shadow Dancing” is later used on the long running animated series “South Park”, in the episode “Tom’s Rhinoplasty” originally airing on February 11, 1998. The song humorously underscores a scene where the boys teacher Mr. Garrison is strutting down the street after having cosmetic surgery, that makes him look like actor David Hasselhoff. “Shadow Dancing” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 17, 1978 – Jefferson Starship play the second of two concerts at The Freilichtbühne Loreley (Loreley Open-Air Theatre) in St. Goarhausen, West Germany, when the gigs goes horribly wrong. Touring in support of their then latest album “Earth, on the first night (June 16, 1978), the band fails to appear, causing angry fans to ransack the stage. The second night is even more of a disaster, when lead singer Grace Slick shows up extremely drunk and belligerent. Slurring her words and singing off key throughout, she begins to berate the audience calling them "Nazis” and taunting them with the phrase “who won the war?”. The incident touches off a riot, with the enraged audience causing over a million dollars in damage to the venue (which ironically had been originally constructed just prior to World War II by The Third Reich for cultural events) and the bands equipment. Highly embarrassed by her actions, Slick voluntarily quits the band, not returning until early 1981 when Jefferson Starship records their album “Modern Times”.
On this day in music history: June 16, 1979 – “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 2 weeks on June 30, 1979. Written and produced by Frederick Knight, it is the biggest hit for the former school teacher turned singer from Memphis, TN. The song is originally written and intended for then thirteen year old singer Stacy Lattisaw. When Lattisaw does not end up signing with Knight’s production company (signing with Atlantic Records instead), Knight re-writes the lyrics, originally about kids talking on the telephone, to something more suited for an adult singer. Anita Ward, a twenty two year old former school teacher from Memphis, TN discovered by Knight is given the song for her debut album. The track is cut at Malaco Studios in Jackson, MS and released on Knight’s Juana Records (distributed by Miami, FL based TK Records) in April of 1979. “Bell” is remixed by famed New York club DJ Richie Rivera, who helps turn it into a massive worldwide hit. “Ring My Bell” sells over 2.5 million copies in the US alone. “Bell” is later sampled and interpolated by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince on their hit of the same name in 1991.
On this day in music history: June 16, 1975 – “Why Can’t We Be Friends”, the seventh album by War is released. Produced by Jerry Goldstein, Lonnie Jordan and Howard Scott, it is recorded at Crystal Studios in Hollywood, CA and Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, CA from Late 1974 – Early 1975. Scoring back to back hit albums “All Day Music”, “The World Is A Ghetto” and “Deliver The Word”, War become one of the most successful bands of the era. “Music” becomes their first Gold album, with “Ghetto” the best selling album of 1973 in the US, and “Word” moving nearly two million copies, the band sit out much of 1974 due to infighting and squabbles over business concerns. They return to the studio by the end of the year to begin work on their next album. The inspiration for the title track comes while War are on a tour of Japan. “Why Can’t We Be Friends” (#9 R&B, #6 Pop) makes a statement about not judging others for their differences, and discovering that “we’re more alike on the inside than we are on the outside”. Working the song out in the studio, the band also arrange it so that each member has a turn at singing a line or verse. Danish born harmonica player Lee Oskar wryly sings the line “sometimes I don’t speak right, but yet I know what I’m talking about…”, referring to English not being his native language and his struggle to learn it. Issued as the first single ahead of the album in April of 1975, the simple and hooky sing-a-long “Friends” is an immediate smash, and becomes War’s fifth million selling single in the US. Band members Howard Scott and Charles Miller are instrumental in coming up with the funky follow up “Low Rider” (#1 R&B, #7 Pop), which also becomes a Gold single. Also a big hit on the dance floor, United Artists Records issues the track backed with “Heartbeat” as a promotional 12" single in the US, becoming a very rare and highly sought after collector’s item. “Heartbeat” later becomes a Hip Hop staple when it is sampled by Nice & Smooth, Whodini, Ice-T, Tung Twista, Madlib, and Pete Rock Featuring J. Dilla. Original copies of “Why Can’t We Be Friends” are issued with a poster of the band. Originally released on CD in 1992, it is also issued as a limited edition 24K gold CD in 1995. It is most recently reissued in 2015, when War’s catalog is licensed to Universal Music Group. “Why Can’t We Be Friends” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number eight on the Top 200, number fourteen on the Jazz chart, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 15, 1978 – “Sunlight”, the eighteenth studio album by Herbie Hancock is released. Produced by Herbie Hancock and David Rubinson, it is recorded at The Automatt, Different Fur Trading Co. in San Francisco, CA and The Village Recorder in Los Angeles, CA from August 1977 – May 1978. Following collaborations with his former Miles Davis band mates Ron Carter, Tony Williams, Wayne Shorter and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard under the name V.S.O.P., Herbie Hancock shifts musical gears once again. A tireless innovator always in search of new musical avenues to explore, Hancock merges his stellar jazz chops with more mainstream R&B, pop and disco sounds on his next release. For “Sunlight”, Hancock assembles a group of top musicians to back him including Leon “Ndugu” Chancler, Harvey Mason, Tony Williams (drums), “Wah Wah” Watson, Ray Parker, Jr. (guitars), Jaco Pastorius, Byron Miller, Paul Jackson (bass), Bennie Maupin, Ernie Watts (saxophone), Bill Summers and Raul Rekow (percussion). The first album to feature him singing, it also marks the beginning of Hancock’s use of the Sennheiser Vocoder VSM 201 heard prominently on the first single “I Thought It Was You” (#85 R&B), becoming a key element of his sound throughout the rest of the 70’s and well into the 80’s. To promote the single in clubs, Columbia Records in the US issues a promotional 12" of the song (b/w the title track), featuring a unique edit that to date has never been released anywhere else. This promo has become a sought after collector’s item by fans in later years. The jazz/funk fusion and disco flavored sound of “I Thought”, while drawing a mixed reaction from his more straight ahead traditional jazz audience, it brings the prolific musician a newer and younger audience that embraces the new sound. Hancock also re-records “I Thought It Was You” again in 1979 with Japanese vocalist Kimiko Kasai for the album “Butterfly”, released exclusively in Japan. In and out of print for many years, the album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2013 as part of the career spanning box set “The Complete Columbia Album Collection 1972-1988”. “Sunlight” peaks at number three on the Billboard Jazz album chart, number thirty one on the R&B album chart, and number fifty eight on the Top 200.