On this day in music history: September 20, 1986 – “Stuck With You” by Huey Lewis & The News hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 3 weeks on the same date. Written by Chris Hayes and Huey Lewis, it is the second chart topping single for the pop/rock band from Marin, CA. Following the massive success of their breakthrough third album “Sports” and the chart topping “The Power Of Love” from the film “Back To The Future”, the pressure is on for Huey Lewis And The News to match their previous hit status. The band begin writing and recording material for their fourth studio album titled “Fore!” in late 1985. Exhausted from touring the world for much of the previous two years, they struggle to come up with new songs for the album, but manage to write several solid songs for the project. After about six months, the bands’ manager Bob Brown calls lead guitarist Chris Hayes, asking him to write another song, feeling that the album is lacking a sure fire hit single to lead off with. Hayes tells Brown that he’ll see what he can do. Going into the studio by himself, Hayes writes the music for what becomes “Stuck With You” in about three hours. Playing the instrumental demo for Huey, the singer begins penning lyrics for the track. At the time, Lewis is married to Sidney Conroy, who is their band manager’s secretary. They begin dating and are married in Hawaii in 1983. With their career taking off in a major way in the wake of the “Sports” album, all of the usual temptations of rock stardom come with it. Very much in love with his wife, Lewis writes the lyrics about resisting the urge to stray and remaining faithful. Once completed, all agree that the song is a smash, and “Stuck With You” is released as a single in July of 1986. Entering the Hot 100 at #42 on August 2, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The music video filmed on location in the Bahamas and directed by longtime collaborator Edd Griles, features Lewis with actress Keely Shaye Smith (the wife of actor Pierce Brosnan) as his love interest. In spite of the songs sentiment and having two children, Lewis and Conroy’s marriage ends in 1989 after only six years together.
On this day in music history: September 20, 1975 – “Between The Lines”, the seventh album by Janis Ian hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 1 week. Produced by Brooks Arthur, it is recorded at 914 Sound Studios in Blauvelt, NY from Mid – Late 1974. Anchored by the hit single “At Seventeen” (#3 Pop), the album is a huge critical and commercial success for the New York born singer, songwriter and musician. “Seventeen” is inspired by a newspaper article she reads about a young woman who is a former teenage debutante. The woman declares in the article on how being popular in high school didn’t solve her problems, lingering below the surface. Ian juxtaposes this with her own personal experiences, coming to terms with her own low self esteem and self worth at that age. Initially the song almost does not make the album, when Ian feels that it’s “too personal” and revealing. She eventually changes her mind, and the single and album become the biggest hits of her career. Ian performs the song on “The Tonight Show”, which gives her major national exposure that spreads to radio. The singer also performs “At Seventeen” on the debut episode of “Saturday Night Live” on October 11, 1975. The single also wins Ian a Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female in 1976, and the album also wins for Best Engineered Recording, Non-Classical for engineers Brooks Arthur, Larry Alexander and Russ Payne. The single release of “At Seventeen” is also inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2008. “Between The Lines” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 19, 1987 – “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” by Michael Jackson & Siedah Garrett hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on the same date.Written by Michael Jackson, it is the seventh number one solo single (eleventh, to date) for “The King Of Pop”. Issued as the first single from “Bad”, the song is initially pitched to Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston, who both have to pass on recording the song due to prior recording commitments. Siedah Garrett comes to the studio, initially believing she is there to add overdubs to the song “Man In The Mirror” which she has co-written with fellow songwriter Glen Ballard. To her great surprise, producer Quincy Jones asks her to sing the duet with Michael. Released seven weeks ahead of the album on July 20, 1987, the single is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #37 on August 8, 1987, it leaps to the top of the chart six weeks later. Jackson and Garrett also record a Spanish language version of the song (titled “Todo Mi Amor Eres Tu” translated by Ruben Blades) that is released as a limited edition 12" single by CBS International’s Latin Music division. In 2012 to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the release of “Bad”, Wal-Mart reissues “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” as an exclusive limited edition CD single (individually numbered) with the previously unreleased demo “Don’t Be Messin’ ‘Round”. A numbered limited edition replica of the original 7" single is also reissued along with a reproduction of the original picture sleeve artwork. “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 15, 1967 – “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong is released. Written by George Douglas (aka Bob Thiele) and George David Weiss, it is the sixty ninth single release for the jazz music icon from New Orleans, LA. Making chart history in May of 1964 becoming the oldest male artist to top the Hot 100 with “Hello Dolly”, ironically one of his signature songs barely makes a ripple on that chart initially. In 1967, Armstrong is approached by ABC Records A&R executive Bob Thiele about recording a song he’s written with George David Weiss. The song is “What A Wonderful World”, initially offered to Tony Bennett, who turns it down. Armstrong loves it and agrees to sign to the label and record it .The track is recorded at United Studios in Las Vegas, NV, while the musician is in town performing at the Tropicana Hotel. Also present is ABC president Larry Newton who doesn’t like “What A Wonderful World”. His opposition is so strong, that he has to be locked out of the studio. Another challenge is with the studio being located close to railroad tracks. The loud horns from passing Union Pacific trains is a constant distraction. The session is finally finished by 6 am, with the orchestra being owed additional money for the overtime session. Louis graciously accepts only a $250 fee (then union scale) to make sure that the orchestra are fully paid. With Newton still in opposition, Bob Thiele has to force its release. Even then, the ABC president refuses to allow any promotion for the record. As a result, the single bubbles under the Billboard Hot 100 at #116, selling less than 1,000 copies and disappears quickly from view. In the UK, it is a completely different story. It’s licensed to HMV Records and released in February of 1968, quickly becoming a smash and spends four weeks at number one on the UK singles chart beginning on April 24, 1968. It is the last major hit for Louis Armstrong before his passing in July of 1971. Having failed in the US on its original release, the song has a surprising and unexpected redux over two decades later. Director Barry Levinson uses it in his film “Good Morning, Vietnam”, with Robin Williams as Armed Forces Radio DJ Adrian Cronauer. A&M Records releases it as a single in early 1988, in wake of the films’ success. It becomes a surprise hit, peaking at #32 on the Hot 100 on April 2, 1988 and #7 on the AC chart, driving the soundtrack to Platinum plus status. Now an acknowledged standard, “What A Wonderful World” has been recorded by numerous artists including Roy Clark, Anne Murray, Rod Stewart, Joey Ramone, and Eva Cassidy. One of the best known versions outside of Louis Armstrong’s, is by the late Hawaiian musician Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, recorded in a medley with “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Louis Armstrong’s original recording of “What A Wonderful World” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.
On this day in music history: September 14, 1985 – “Cherish” by Kool & The Gang hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 6 weeks on August 24, 1985, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on September 21, 1985. Written by Ronald Bell, James “J.T.” Taylor, Jim Bonnefond, Claydes Smith, George Brown and Curtis Williams, it is the ninth R&B chart topper for the R&B band from Jersey City, NJ. With the addition of lead singer James “J.T” Taylor to Kool & The Gang’s line up in 1979, the veteran R&B/Funk band begin a period marking their greatest commercial success, scoring more than a dozen pop and R&B top 40 hits, including six number one singles on the R&B singles chart. For the band’s ninth chart topper, a change in their creative back drop provides the inspiration for one of their most popular and enduring hits. Saxophonist and band musical director Ronald Bell (aka Khalis Bayyan) come up with the initial idea for what becomes “Cherish” while the band are recording their twenty seventh album “Emergency”. Rather than working at their regular studio, The House Of Music in their native New Jersey, the band opt to record the basic tracks at Compass Point Studios, the recording studio then owned by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell in Nassau, Bahamas. Working out the music with the rest of the band in the studio, Bell has Taylor pen the lyrics, which he writes while walking along the beach near the studio. Once the track is completed, everyone agrees that it is a smash. Issued as the third single from “Emergency” in June of 1985, it becomes an across the board smash on the pop, R&B and AC charts. Another R&B chart topper for Kool & The Gang, it holds on to the runner spot on the pop chart for three weeks, unable to unseat Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing” from the number one spot. “Cherish” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 11, 1993 – “Dreamlover” by Mariah Carey hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 8 weeks, peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date, also topping the Club Play chart for 1 week on October 16, 1993. Written by Mariah Carey and Dave “Jam” Hall, it is the seventh chart topping single for the singer and songwriter from Huntington, L.I., NY. After the multi-platinum success of her self-titled debut, “Emotions”, and the “MTV Unplugged EP”, Mariah Carey begins work on her third full length album in the late Summer of 1992. For her new album, one of the producers Carey collaborate with, is Dave “Jam” Hall, best known for his work with artists such as Mary J. Blige, Heavy D. & The Boyz, and Brand Nubian. The pair begin writing together and wanting to incorporate some hip hop flavor into the material, they listen to sample loops and decide on one in particular. Carey and Hall write “Dreamlover” around a sample of The Emotions song “Blind Alley”, a track from the group’s 1971 album “Untouched”, written by legendary Memphis Soul songwriter and producer David Porter (“Soul Man”, “Hold On, I’m Comin’”). The song is first sampled on Big Daddy Kane’s classic “Ain’t No Half Steppin’” in 1988, and also by LL Cool J on the single “Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag Getting Crushed By Buildings” also in 1993. Writing a new melody and lyrics, the song comes together quickly. Issued as the first single from “Music Box” on July 27, 1993, it is an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #40 on August 7, 1993, it leaps to the top of the chart five weeks later. “Dreamlover” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 11, 1982 – “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary Chart for 3 weeks on August 21, 1982. Written by Peter Cetera and David Foster, it is the second chart topping single for the rock band from Chicago, IL. Following their being unceremoniously dropped by former label Columbia Records after releasing fifteen albums over their thirteen year association with the label, Chicago sign with Warner Bros Records in late 1981. With the change of label come other changes. Former Sons Of Champlin keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist Bill Champlin joins the band as a co-lead vocalist, and Chicago selects former studio musician and songwriter David Foster to produce them. Once a fully self contained band, Foster streamlines and retools Chicago’s sound by bringing in Toto members David Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro (and others) to augment them instrumentally as well as work as songwriting collaborators. The ballad “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” is the first single released from “Chicago 16” on May 27, 1982. It is also included in the Randal Kleiser (“Grease”, “The Blue Lagoon”) directed film “Summer Lovers” starring Daryl Hannah and Peter Gallagher. Though the film is a box office disappointment, “Sorry” is Chicago’s first major hit in nearly five years. The full LP version of the track segues into the song “Get Away”, but is edited for single release, via a fade out before the start of the next song. Though today, many radio stations play both tracks in sequence. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on June 5, 1982, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1975 – “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Country chart for 3 weeks (non-consecutive) on August 23, 1975. Written by Larry Weiss, it is the first pop chart topper for the veteran studio musician turned country/pop superstar. A well established songwriter since the early 60’s Larry Weiss has co-written several major hits for other artists, including The American Breed’s “Bend Me, Shape Me” (#5 Pop) and R&B singer Jerry Butler’s “Mr. Dream Merchant (#23 R&B, #38 Pop), before becoming a recording artist in his own right. Weiss is signed to 20th Century Records in 1974, recording his debut album "Black & Blue Suite”. The song “Rhinestone Cowboy” is released as a single, but does not attract any significant attention, except from Adult Contemporary radio, where the song peaks at #24 on that chart. Glen Campbell hears Weiss’ original version while on a tour of Australia in late 1974. Liking what he hears, Campbell records it shortly after in Los Angeles with producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter (The Four Tops, The Righteous Brothers). Entering the Hot 100 at #81, climbing to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. On the country singles chart, “Rhinestone” spends two consecutive weeks at the top before being displaced by “Feelins” by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn for one week. Surprisingly it rebounds and returns to the top for one more week on September 13, 1975. “Rhinestone Cowboy” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1974 – “When Will I See You Again” by The Three Degrees is released. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, it is the twenty eighth single release, and biggest hit for the R&B vocal trio from Philadelphia, PA. Originally formed in 1963, the first line up of The Three Degrees consists of Fayette Pinkney, Shirley Porter and Linda Turner. With Pinkney remaining the mainstay of the group, a number of personnel changes occur over the next few years before additions of Valerie Holiday and Sheila Ferguson by 1967. The group record for several different labels including Swan, Warner Bros, Metromedia and Roulette. The Three Degrees first connect with songwriter and producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff in 1970 when they record the single “What I See” on the duos label Neptune Records. The record fails to chart, and the girls return to Roulette later that year, scoring their first major hit with a cover of The Chantels’ classic “Maybe” (#4 R&B, #29 Pop). During this period, they make a brief appearance appearance as a night club act in the film “The French Connection”, and continue to record with Roulette through 1972. Now running their label Philadelphia International Records through CBS, Gamble and Huff sign The Three Degrees in 1973. The groups first single for the label “Dirty ‘Ol Man” (#58 R&B), though only a minor hit, becomes a favorite in clubs as the Disco movement begins to bubble up from the underground in major cities around the US and internationally. Among the songs Gamble & Huff write for The Three Degrees first album is “When Will I See You Again”. After Kenny Gamble plays the song for the group, lead singer Sheila Ferguson immediately voices her disapproval of it, calling it “simple” and that it took “no talent to sing it”. The producers insist they do it anyway, the group record it, feeling that it’s just an album track, and was unlikely to do anything. At first, they seem to be correct as the follow up “Year Of Decision” (#74 R&B) also fails to make any major waves. The Three Degrees luck changes in a major way in the Spring of 1974 when “TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)” by PIR house band MFSB and featuring them on background vocals, becomes an across the board smash, topping the R&B, Pop and AC charts and winning a Grammy Award. It is followed by the club classic “Love Is The Message” (#42 R&B, #85 Pop) in June of 1974. Now a year after their self-titled debut albums release, “When Will Will I See You Again” is released as a single, in the UK first, racing to number one on August 17, 1974. It is issued in the US three weeks later, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 14, 1974, topping the AC chart on the same date, and peaking at #4 on the R&B chart on December 28, 1974. The song is later featured in the film “Kill Bill: Volume 2” in 2004. “When Will I See You Again” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.