On this day in music history: December 9, 1972 – “I Am Woman” by Helen Reddy hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Helen Reddy and Ray Burton, it is the first US chart topper for the Australian born singer. After struggling and suffering numerous setbacks since arriving in the US in 1966, Helen Reddy lands her first chart hit with a cover of “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” (#13 Pop) from the musical “Jesus Christ Superstar” in June of 1971. Her first album also features a song titled “I Am Woman” co-written with fellow Australian musician Ray Burton. The original version receives little notice, but Reddy is asked to re-record the song for the film “Stand Up and Be Counted” starring Jacqueline Bisset, Steve Lawrence, and Loretta Swit. The new version features members of The Wrecking Crew playing on the track including Mike Deasy (guitar), Jim Gordon (drums), Michael Melvoin (piano), future James Taylor and Phil Collins side man Leland Sklar (bass) and background vocalists Clydie King, Vanetta Fields and Shirlie Matthews. Released as a single in May of 1972, “Woman” stalls at #97 on the Hot 100 on July 8, 1972 before falling off the chart. Undaunted, Reddy’s husband and manager Jeff Wald uses his considerable promotional skills to book his wife on various television variety and talk shows to re-promote the single. Positive response from female viewers to the song spreads to radio stations who are flooded with calls to play the record. Re-entering the Hot 100 at #87 on September 16, 1972, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. “I Am Woman” becomes an anthem and rallying cry for the women’s equal rights movement as a result of its huge popularity. Reddy wins a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in 1973, and in her memorable acceptance speech, she thanks her husband and “God, because she makes everything possible.” “I Am Woman” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 8, 1990 – “Because I Love You (The Postman Song)” by Stevie B. hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on January 19, 1991. Written by Warren Allen Brooks, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and producer from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Born Steven Bernard Hill, Stevie B. is involved in music from an early age, forming the band LUV in high school with friend and future R&B star Howard Johnson (“So Fine”, “Keepin’ Love New”). After the band splits following Johnson’s departure to join Niteflyte (“If You Want It”), Stevie continues to make music on his his own, starting his own label Midtown Records and releasing the singles “Sending Out For Love” under his own name, and “Boy Toy” under moniker Friday Friday Featuring Stevie B.. Then in 1987, he records and releases the song “Party Your Body”, an uptempo dance track that becomes a huge hit in Miami and several other cities where Freestyle is popular like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The record attracts the attention of New York based dance label LMR Records who signs Stevie, and re-releases the single early in 1988. A string of other hits follow including “Dreamin’ Of Love”, “Spring Love” and “I Wanna Be The One”. By 1990, LMR has aligned itself with major label RCA Records as the singer is working on his third album “Love & Emotion”. Looking for a change of pace from his dance oriented material, Stevie records the ballad “Because I Love You”, written by co-collaborator Warren Allen Brooks who has also penned four other songs on the album including the title track. Issued as the second single from the album in September of 1990, the song is an across the board smash, hitting the pop and AC charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on October 6, 1990, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. After spending a month at the top of the US singles chart, “Because I Love You” is also a hit internationally, hitting the top ten in ten foreign countries including the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. Stevie B. scores another top 40 hit with the follow up “I’ll Be By Your Side” (#12 Pop), he is unable to match the success of his chart topping hit. Still a popular concert draw, Stevie is still recording, having released his most recent album “The King Of Hearts” in 2014. “Because I Love You (The Postman Song)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 7, 1985 – “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Richard Page, Steve George and John Lang, it is the first chart topping single for the pop/rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Having only minimal success with their 1984 debut album “I Wear The Face” produced by Peter McIan (Men At Work), the members of Mr. Mister lobby their label RCA Records to allow them to produce their next album. In the interim, lead singer and bassist Richard Page is offered opportunities to join Toto and Chicago, but declines, opting to stay with his own band. Demoing several new songs, among them is the ballad “Broken Wings. Written by Page, keyboardist and vocalist Steve George and Page’s cousin John Lang, the trio finish the song in only twenty minutes. Taking the demo tape back to RCA agrees to allow the band to produce themselves along with recording engineer and co-producer Paul DeVilliers. Once the finished album is handed in to the label, RCA initially wants an up tempo track to be the lead single. Not wanting to fall prey to what happened with their debut album, Mr. Mister insist that "Broken Wings” be released instead. Reluctantly, the label releases it in June of 1985, to virtually no reaction from radio. The single lies dormant for nearly three months, when it suddenly finds pockets of support in radio markets like Denver, CO and Minneapolis, MN. It’s only then that RCA realize that they have a potential hit on their hands, and put their promotional muscle behind the record. The song is also accompanied by a striking black and video directed by Oley Sassone that quickly becomes an MTV favorite. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on September 21, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. An instant pop and AC classic, “Broken Wings” crosses over into other musical genres after its chart topping success on the pop chart. Miles Davis is so taken with it, that he performs it live at the Berlin Jazz Festival in November of 1985. In 1986, jazz musician Rodney Franklin records an instrumental cover version of the song. It’s also covered by Rick Springfield, Jason Donovan, John Tesh, and The Panic Division. The song is also sampled and interpolated into rap songs by 2Pac, Joe Budden, Foxy Brown, and C-Block. Mr. Mister’s original recording is featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City on the Emotion 98.3 radio station.
On this day in music history: December 6, 1986 – “The Next Time I Fall” by Peter Cetera w/ Amy Grant hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on November 8, 1986. Written by Bobby Caldwell and Paul Gordon, it is the second solo chart topper for the former lead singer and bassist of Chicago, and the first chart topper for the vocalist from Augusta, GA. Best known for blue eyed soul classics like “What You Won’t Do For Love”, “My Flame” and “Open Your Eyes”, singer, songwriter and musician Bobby Caldwell continues to enjoy major success internationally, and as a songwriter during the 80’s. Along with co-writer Paul Gordon, the pair write the ballad “The Next Time I Fall”, with Caldwell coming up with the main chord progression while playing a Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer in his apartment. The first chorus they come up with is discarded and re-written, fleshing out the main body of the song, also writing the lyrics together. Bobby records a quick demo, playing keyboards and performing the vocals, then submitting it to his publisher for artist consideration. The demo is heard by producer Michael Omartian (Christopher Cross, Donna Summer), who in turn plays it for Peter Cetera who likes it immediately. Though it was not written that way, Cetera suggests “The Next Time I Fall” be recorded as a duet. He suggests that they reach out to Amy Grant and ask her if she’ll record it with him. Already a major star in the world of Contemporary Christian Pop with the hugely successful “Age To Age” and her first mainstream pop album “Unguarded”, Grant is eager to broaden her audience. A huge fan of Cetera’s from his days in Chicago agrees to the duet. On tour at the time, Amy flies into Los Angeles and records her vocals in a single session. Issued as the follow up to Peter Cetera’s first chart topper “Glory Of Love” in September of 1986, “The Next Time I Fall” is another immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #74 on September 20, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The single also receives a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal in 1987. The chart topping success of “Next Time I Fall” is major turning point in Amy Grant’s trajectory into pop superstardom, peaking with the multi-Platinum selling album “Heart In Motion” in 1991. Following the success of the song, songwriter Bobby Caldwell cuts a version of “The Next Time I Fall” in 1989. He also co-writes a number of hits for other artists including “Heart Of Mine” (#35 Pop) for Boz Scaggs and “What Kind Of Man Would I Be” (#5 Pop) for Chicago.
On this day in music history: December 3, 1988 – “Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby)” by Will To Power hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also hitting #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Written by Peter Frampton/Allen Collins and Ronnie Van Zant, it is the biggest hit for the Miami, FL based trio. The brainchild of DJ and producer Bob Rosenberg and taking their name from title of a book by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, Will To Power make their debut in late 1986 with the freestyle dance track “Dreamin’”, releasing it on his own label Thrust Records. Featuring Suzi Carr on lead vocals, the song becomes a big regional hit in Florida, attracting the attention of Epic Records who pick up the single for re-release nationally in June of 1987. Peaking at #50 on the Hot 100 and #15 on the Billboard Club Play chart, the success of “Dreamin’” paves the way for a full album released in March of 1988. Their next single titled “Say It’s Gonna Rain” is an even bigger hit, topping the Club Play chart for two weeks in August and September of 1988, peaking at #49 on the Hot 100. For their third release, the band and label decide to go in an entirely different direction from their more uptempo Freestyle dance club oriented material. Covering two 70’s rock classics, “Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby)” is a medley combining Peter Frampton’s “Baby I Love Your Way” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Freebird”. Issued as a single in August of 1988, the single quickly takes flight. Entering the Hot 100 at #97 on September 10, 1988, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The group score one more top 10 pop single with a cover of 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love” peaking at #7 in January 1991. “Baby I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley (Free Baby)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 2, 1995 – “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 16 weeks, peaking at #2 for 9 weeks on the R&B singles chart on the same date, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 13 weeks on December 30, 1995. Written by Mariah Carey, Nathan Morris, Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris, Michael McCary and Walter Afanasieff, it is the tenth chart topping single for the pop vocalist from Huntington, L.I., NY and the fourth chart topper for the R&B vocal quartet from Philadelphia, PA. While writing songs for her fifth album “Daydream”, singer Mariah Carey receives news that her friend, producer, songwriter and musician David Cole of C + C Music Factory, has died in January of 1995 at the age of only 32. Stunned and saddened by the loss, Carey looks to pay tribute to him and other friends and family she has lost. Having written a chorus and melody, Mariah contacts Nate Morris of Boyz II Men to ask if the group will sing with her on the song she’s writing. They agree, and in the course of talking to each other, discovers that Morris and the rest of the group had been writing a similar song, to pay tribute to their road manager Roderick “Khalil” Rountree, who was murdered in a robbery attempt while on their first national tour opening for MC Hammer and Jodeci. Carey and Boyz II Men along with her producer Walter Afanasieff collaborate together to complete what becomes “One Sweet Day”. The vocals are recorded at The Hit Factory in New York City in February 1995, in only three and a half hours. With Boyz II Men on their second major US tour at the time, they are too busy to make a staged music video with Mariah, so cameras are present at the recording session, with the footage being edited together to produce a clip for the song. Issued as the second single from Carey’s album “Daydream” on November 14, 1995, “One Sweet Day” is an immediate smash. Debuting at number one on the Hot 100, it spends an unprecedented four solid months at the top of the chart, making it the longest running chart topping pop single in the history of Billboard Magazine, a record that it still holds today. The song receives a pair of Grammy nominations for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals and Record Of The Year in 1996, with Mariah and Boyz II Men turning in a memorable performance of the song during the awards telecast. “One Sweet Day” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 2, 1989 – “Here And Now” by Luther Vandross hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #6 on the Hot 100 on April 21, 1990. Written by Terry Steele and David Elliott, it is the fifth and final R&B chart topper for the New York born R&B singer, songwriter and producer. Vandross is hanging out at long time friend Dionne Warwick’s home one day playing video games, when David Elliott (Warwick’s son), asks him if he would listen to some new song demos he has just recorded. Luther agrees, and the second of the three songs catches his ear. Titled “Here And Now”, Vandross loves the song and tells Elliott that he’ll record it. Luther rearranges the song significantly from the original demo by the time he records it. One of two new songs cut for his first greatest hits album “The Best Of Luther Vandross… The Best Of Love”, it’s released as a single in October of 1989. The song not only becomes Vandross’ first top ten pop single, it also wins him his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1991 after nine previous nominations and losses. “Here And Now” becomes an instant wedding staple, with Vandross performing it on an episode (Rose and Warren’s wedding) of the hit sitcom “227” in 1990. The singer also performs the song at the wedding of a couple who win a contest sponsored by Sony Music to promote the single, and Vandross’ album. “Here And Now” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 2, 1978 – “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks (non-consecutive). Written by Marilyn & Alan Bergman and Neil Diamond, it is the third number one single for the pop superstar duo. The song is originally written for a short lived TV series created by Norman Lear (“All In The Family”, “Sanford & Son”, “The Jeffersons”), the song is not used when the shows original concept is changed. Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond initially cut solo versions of the song which appear on their then current albums. A radio station PD in Louisville, KY edits the two versions together, creating a new duet version. The response is so overwhelmingly positive that pair go into the studio and re-cut the song as an actual duet which is rush released as a single in October 1978. Entering the Hot 100 at #48 on October 28, 1978, the single races to the top of the chart five weeks later. It relinquishes the top spot to Chic’s “Le Freak” for one week on December 9, 1978, falling back to #3. It leaps back to the top for one more week on December 16, 1978, before “Le Freak” retakes the number one spot. Streisand and Diamond turn in a highly memorable live performance of “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers”, at the 22nd Annual Grammy Awards on February 27, 1980. Without any introduction, the singers walk on to the stage from opposite ends to rapturous applause, even before they can begin singing. Though they lose the Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group Grammy to The Doobie Brothers “Minute By Minute”, the performance is regarded as one of the greatest moments in the televised history of the awards show. “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 1, 1973 – “Top Of The World” by The Carpenters hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Richard Carpenter and John Bettis, it is the second chart topping single for the brother and sister pop music duo from Downey, CA. Originally released on The Carpenters 1972 album “A Song For You”, the song languishes as an album cut, until a cover hit version (peaking at #2 on the Billboard Country singles chart) by country singer Lynn Anderson prompts them to cut a new version of the song. Recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA in the Summer of 1973 with Hal Blaine (drums), Joe Osborn (bass), Tony Peluso (guitar) Buddy Emmons (pedal steel guitar), Richard Carpenter (electric piano, background vocals, orchestration) and Karen Carpenter (lead and background vocals). Released on September 17, 1973 just a few weeks ahead their first hits compilation “The Singles: 1969 – 1973” where the new version is also included, the song is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on October 6, 1973, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Top” becomes one of The Carpenters most popular and covered songs, with versions recorded by Mark O’Connor, The Sugarcubes, and Shonen Knife. The Carpenters’ hit version of the song is featured in the films “Shrek Forever After” and “Dark Shadows”. “Top Of The World” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: November 30, 1985 – “Separate Lives (Love Theme From White Nights)” by Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary singles chart for 3 weeks on November 16, 1985. Written by Stephen Bishop, it is the fourth chart topping single the British pop superstar and lone chart topper for the pop vocalist from Louisville, KY. Fresh off of the success of his 1984 film “Against All Odds”, director Taylor Hackford begins work on his next project “White Nights” starring Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov. The film had been in development since 1982, being rejected by several studios before being given the green light by Columbia Pictures. During the early stages, Hackford asks singer and songwriter Stephen Bishop (“On And On”, “It Might Be You”), if he will write and perform a song for the soundtrack. He agrees, writing “Separate Lives” which is inspired by Bishop’s break up with then girlfriend actress Karen Allen. Bishop ends up bowing out of recording it himself, and gives the song to his friend Phil Collins, who by this time had scored his first solo number one with the title song from “Against All Odds”, also directed by Taylor Hackford. Doug Morris, the head of Collins’ US label Atlantic Records hears the song, and suggests that it be a duet. At the time, Morris is working with a singer named Marilyn Martin who had previously worked as a background singer for several major artists including Stevie Nicks, Joe Walsh, Don Henley, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. After hearing Martin’s voice on a demo tape, Collins signs off on the duet. The track is produced by Phil Collins, Arif Mardin and Hugh Padgham and recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City. “Separate Lives” is released as the first single from the “White Nights” soundtrack in September of 1985, two months ahead of the film. Entering the Hot 100 at #45 on October 5, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. Stephen Bishop receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 1986, but loses to the films’ other major hit, Lionel Richie’s “Say You, Say Me”. Shortly after her chart topping success, Marilyn Martin releases her self-titled debut album, scoring a top 30 hit with the single “Night Moves” (#28 Pop). Her second album “This Is Serious” fails to chart or generate any hits, and Martin is dropped by Atlantic. Still singing and recording today, Marilyn Martin released her most recent album “Trust, Love, Pray” in 2012.