Category: adult contemporary

Born on this day: June 17, 1943 – Singer, song…

Born on this day: June 17, 1943 – Singer, songwriter, producer and musician Barry Manilow (born Barry Alan Pincus in Brooklyn, NY). Happy 75th Birthday, Barry!!

On this day in music history: June 16, 1990 – …

On this day in music history: June 16, 1990 – “Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)” by Quincy Jones Featuring Tevin Campbell hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #75 on the Hot 100 on the same date. Written by George Johnson, Louis Johnson and Siedah Garrett, it is the fourth R&B chart topper for the legendary producer, composer and arranger born Quincy Delightt Jones, Jr.. “Tomorrow” is originally composed as an instrumental by George and Louis Johnson, and included on The Brothers Johnson’s 1976 debut album “Look Out For #1”. During the recording of “Block”, Jones discovers the twelve year old singer from Waxahatchie, TX named Tevin Campbell. Impressed with the young singers vocal prowess, he searches for a song for him to record on the album. Jones asks singer/songwriter Siedah Garrett (also one of his proteges) to write lyrics for the previously instrumental “Tomorrow”. The song also features jazz saxophonist Gerald Albright performing the sax solo. Issued as the third single from producer/arranger Quincy Jones’ album “Back On The Block”, in March of 1990, “Tomorrow (A Better You, Better Me)” is the third consecutive R&B chart topper from “Back On The Block”. The chart topping success of the song, is followed by Tevin Campbell beginning a successful recording career starting with his first album “T.E.V.I.N.” in 1991. Campbell also makes a cameo appearance in Prince’s third film “Graffiti Bridge”, performing the hit single “Round And Round”, written and produced by the superstar musician.

On this day in music history: June 15, 1991 – …

On this day in music history: June 15, 1991 – “Power Of Love/Love Power” by Luther Vandross hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on June 29, 1991. Written by Luther Vandross, Marcus Miller and Teddy Vann, it is the sixth chart topping single for the R&B music icon from New York City. Starting the new decade with the Grammy winning smash “Here And Now”, Luther Vandross returns to the studio in the fall of 1990 to begin recording his first album of all new material in nearly three years. As he has done many times in the past, Luther draws on the music of his youth to inspire him to write new material. On every studio album since his debut “Never Too Much” in 1981, Vandross makes it a point to include a cover version of at least one classic pop or R&B song from his formative years, made over in his own unique and inimitable style. Having scored a hit with the medley “Bad Boy/Having A Party” (#3 R&B, #55 Pop) in 1982, combining his own composition “Bad Boy” with the Sam Cooke classic “Having A Party”, the singer is inspired once again to seamlessly connect the past with the present. Along with long time collaborator and bassist Marcus Miller, Luther writes the positive and uplifting “Power Of Love”, fusing it together with The Sandpebbles’ 1968 hit “Love Power” (#14 R&B, #22 Pop). The track is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA and Right Track Recording Studios in New York City in January of 1991. An obvious stand out from the outset, it is chosen to be the title track of Vandross’ seventh studio album, and the first single. Released on April 9, 1991, “Power Of Love/Love Power” is an immediate hit, giving Luther Vandross not only his sixth number one R&B single, but his highest charting solo single on the pop charts. The single wins Luther two Grammy Awards for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best R&B Song in 1992. Ironically and sadly, “Power Of Love” is the last time that Luther is heard singing by the public. He suffers a debilitating stroke in 2003 following the completion of his final album “Dance With My Father”, seriously impairing his speech and physical movement. Vandross appears on the 46th Annual Grammy Awards on February 8, 2004 in a pre-taped segment, accepting the Song Of The Year award for the title track. In his heartfelt acceptance speech, the singer quotes from “Power Of Love”, speaking and singing the opening lines “when I say goodbye, it’s never for long, because I believe in the power of love…”.

On this day in music history: June 15, 1991 – …

On this day in music history: June 15, 1991 – “Rush, Rush” by Paula Abdul hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 5 weeks on June 29, 1991. Written by Peter Lord, it is the fifth chart topping single for the singer, dancer and choreographer from Los Angeles, CA. Coming off of the enormous success of her debut album “Forever Your Girl”, spinning off four number one pop singles, and selling more than twelve million copies worldwide, anticipation is high for the follow up. Rather than go the safe route and produce another predominantly dance oriented album with the same producers, Paula Abdul chooses to go in a different direction. Working with a group of producers that include Don Was, Jorge Corante, Colin England and Prince, the bulk of the project is helmed by the R&B group The Family Stand. The New York based band consisting of lead singer and keyboardist Sandra St. Victor, keyboardist and vocalist Peter Lord and multi-instrumentalist V. Jeffrey Smith, make their breakthrough in the US in early 1990 with the album “Chain” and the hit single “Ghetto Heaven”. With only a handful of credits to their name at the time, they seem like an unorthodox choice to work with Abdul. But the pairing turns out to be an inspired one, with them writing and producing eight of the eleven tracks on Paula’s second album “Spellbound”. The ballad “Rush, Rush” written by Peter Lord becomes an immediate favorite of Abdul’s when she hears the original demo recording. The track is recorded at Greene Street Studios and Z Recording in New York, with Paula recording her vocals at Studio Masters in Los Angeles in the Fall of 1990. Her initial scratch vocal on the track winds up being used as the final lead vocal, with The Family Stand feeling that the right emotion and feel is perfectly captured in that initial take. Radio programmers and fans are surprised at the dramatic stylistic departure from the previous album, but are immediately taken with “Rush, Rush”. Released as a single on May 2, 1991, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #36 on May 11, 1991, it rockets to the top of the chart five weeks later. The song is supported by a music video that pays homage to the iconic film “Rebel Without A Cause” with actor Keanu Reeves and Abdul playing the roles immortalized by James Dean and Natalie Wood in the original film. Part of the video is filmed the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles, the original location for the films famed street racing sequence. The success of “Rush, Rush” propels the “Spellbound” album to number one on the Top 200, spending two weeks at the top, and selling over three million copies in the US alone. “Rush, Rush” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: June 14, 1975 – …

On this day in music history: June 14, 1975 – “Sister Golden Hair” by America hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Gerry Beckley, it is the second chart topping single for the London based American pop/rock trio. Vocalist and guitarist Gerry Beckley takes inspiration from fellow singer/songwriter Jackson Browne when he composes the song, especially in the lyrics. It is about a man explaining to the woman that he loves that he cares deeply for, but isn’t ready to commit to marriage. The title is also a reference to the mothers of all three band members, all of which have blonde hair. America record “Sister Golden Hair” at the legendary Record Plant Studios in Sausalito, CA with Martin in January 1975. Issued as the first single from the band’s fifth studio album “Hearts”, it is produced by legendary Beatles producer George Martin.Issued in mid March of 1975, it is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #71 on April 5, 1975 it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. “Sister Golden Hair” is America’s last top ten single for seven years. By 1977, founding member Dan Peek leaves the band, reducing America to a duo. Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell continue, leaving Warner Bros for Capitol Records in 1979. After a half dozen singles that fail to make an impression, they hit paydirt in 1982 with “You Can Do Magic” which peaks at #8 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart in October of 1982. “Sister Golden Hair” continues to be one of America’s most popular singles, and is also featured in an episode of “The Sopranos” TV series in 2001.

On this day in music history: June 13, 1972 – …

On this day in music history: June 13, 1972 – “A Song For You”, the fourth studio album by The Carpenters is released. Produced by Jack Daughtery and Richard Carpenter, it is recorded at A&M Studios in Hollywood, CA circa Late 1971 – Early 1972. The album is originally conceived as a concept album, with two versions of the title track beginning and ending the album sides. It also is the last Carpenters album to carry a production credit for Jack Daughtery who is the brother/sister duos A&R man at their label. From The Carpenters’ debut album in 1969, Daughtery had been receiving a producers credit when in fact he had been just booking studio time for the musicians when Richard Carpenter had been doing the actual production and arranging work from the beginning. Daughtery’s firing results in a legal battle that is not settled until 1981, in The Carpenters favor. “A Song For You” spins off five hit singles in the US including “Hurting Each Other” (#2 Pop), “Goodbye To Love” (#7 Pop), and “I Won’t Last A Day Without You” (#11 Pop). It also includes The Carpenters original recording of “Top Of The World”, which is re-recorded and included on their greatest hits compilation “Carpenters – The Singles 1969 – 1973”. The album is  remastered and reissued on CD in 1999, using the original stereo master mixes. Out of print on vinyl for nearly thirty years, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2017. “A Song For You” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: June 11, 1991 – …

On this day in music history: June 11, 1991 – “Unforgettable… With Love”, the fourteenth album by Natalie Cole is released. Produced by David Foster, Andre Fischer and Tommy LiPuma, it is recorded at Capitol Recording Studios, Conway Studios, Group IV Recording Studios, Hollywood Sound in Hollywood, CA, Pacifique Studios, Bill Schnee Studios, Track Record Studios in North Hollywood, CA, Lighthouse Studios, Ocean Way Recording, Westlake Audio, Johnny Yuma Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA and Twentieth Century Fox Scoring Stage in Century City, CA from November 1990 – April 1991. Having successfully restarted her stalled recording career in the late 80’s after years of drug abuse and regaining her sobriety, Natalie Cole is about to begin her third decade with another career milestone. Following the release of the album “Good To Be Back” in 1989, Cole tells executives at her label EMI Records that she wants to record an album of standards originally recorded by her legendary father Nat King Cole. The label is not receptive to the idea, feeling that it “won’t be commercial” and will potentially alienate her new younger fan base. Determined to go forth with the project, Cole negotiates her release from EMI, when her management contacts Bob Krasnow at Elektra Records, who offers to sign her to the label and make the album. Assembling a team of producers that include Natalie’s then husband former Rufus drummer Andre Fischer, Tommy LiPuma (George Benson, Diana Krall) and David Foster (Chicago, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Barbara Streisand), they go about the task of selecting which songs to record. They pare the list down to twenty two songs which include the standards “Paper Moon”, “Too Young”, “Mona Lisa”, “Nature Boy”, “Route 66” (featuring Natalie’s uncle Ike Cole on piano), “Smile”, “L-O-V-E” and “Darling, Je Vous Aime Beaucoup”. The albums centerpiece is the title track “Unforgettable”, which is turned into a virtual duet by lifting the vocal track from Nat King Cole’s 1961 re-recording. To add additional authenticity and reverence to the new version, they also use arranger and orchestra conductor Nelson Riddle’s original arrangement. Released in the late Spring of 1991, the album is an enormous artistic and commercial triumph, giving Natalie Cole the opportunity to honor her father’s legacy, while also becoming the most successful album of her career. “Unforgettable” sweeps the 34th Annual Grammy Awards in 1992, winning six awards including the three major prizes, Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Album Of The Year. “Unforgettable… With Love” spends five weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number five on the R&B album chart, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: June 10, 1972 – …

On this day in music history: June 10, 1972 – “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr. hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on May 20, 1972. Written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, it is the biggest hit for the Harlem, NY born singer, actor and entertainer. Songwriters Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse whose credits singularly and collectively include classics such as “Goldfinger”, “What Kind Of Fool Am I”, “Talk To The Animals”, and Tony winning musical “Stop The World –  I Want To Get Off”, are hired by film producers Stan Margulies and David L. Wolper to write songs and the score for the film “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory”. Among the eight songs Newley and Bricusse write, the first heard in the film is “The Candy Man”. The original version of the song is sung by actor Aubrey Woods, as the candy shop owner. After a brief stint signed to Motown Records which yields one album produced by Jimmy Bowen (Frank Sinatra), entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., leaves Motown in 1971 and signs with MGM Records. MGM Records president Mike Curb suggests to Sammy that he record “The Candy Man”. At first Davis is not receptive to the idea, telling Curb he hates the song, feeling that it’s “too saccharine”. Though ten years before, Davis had scored a major hit with Newley and Bricusse’s “What Kind Of Fool Am I”, and decides to give “The Candy Man” a shot. Curb co-produces the session along with legendary producer and arranger Don Costa, and Michael Viner (Incredible Bongo Band). The track also features background vocals by The Mike Curb Congregation who had previously recorded it before Davis, but their fails to chart. Released as a single in November of 1971, “The Candy Man” is not an immediate hit. It is only after it begins receiving airplay on AC radio stations, that the record takes off. At the time, many Top 40 pop stations refuse to play the record. The exposure from Adult Contemporary radio gives it the momentum it needs to propel it on to and up the charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #97 on March 11, 1972, it climbs to the top of the chart thirteen weeks later. The single earns Davis a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1973. “The Candy Man” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: June 9, 1990 – &…

On this day in music history: June 9, 1990 – “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on May 26, 1990. Written by Glen Ballard, Chynna Phillips and Carnie Wilson, it is the first chart topping single for the pop vocal trio from Los Angeles, CA. Friends since early childhood, the members of Wilson Phillips are the daughters of pop music royalty. Chynna Phillips is the daughter of John and Michelle Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas, and Carnie and Wendy Wilson are the daughters of Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson. The girls grow up singing together, but don’t become serious about it until they are in their late teens. They form a group with Mama Cass Elliott’s daughter Owen, but when they find that the vocal blend between them doesn’t mesh, Elliott leaves the group and they are reduced to a trio once again. In the late 80’s, they meet record producer Richard Perry (Nilsson, The Pointer Sisters), a longtime friend of Chynna’s mother Michelle. He hears the girls sing and offer to record them. But when he wants to have them sing poppy dance oriented material, they turn down the offer to work with him. Still believing in their potential, Perry introduces them to songwriter and producer Glen Ballard, best known for co-writing “Man In The Mirror” for Michael Jackson and “All I Need” for Jack Wagner. Ballard and the girls hit it off immediately and begin writing songs. They cut a four song demo which includes the song “Hold On”. Initially Warner Bros shows interest in Wilson Phillips, but when the girls feel that the circumstances aren’t right, they instead sign with the newly formed SBK Records, founded by label and music publishing executives Charles Koppelman and Martin Bandier. Released as the first single from their self-titled debut album in March of 1990, “Hold On” takes off quickly. Entering the Hot 100 at #74 on March 17, 1990, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The single earns the group four Grammy nominations for Best New Artist, Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, Song Of The Year, and Album Of The Year in 1991. Wilson Phillips perform “Hold On” in the 2011 comedy “Bridesmaids”. “Hold On” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: June 7, 1986 – &…

On this day in music history: June 7, 1986 – “Live To Tell” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 3 weeks on May 31, 1986. Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, it is the third chart topping single for the pop music superstar from Rochester, MI. After phenomenal success Madonna experiences during 1984-85 with her first two albums (“Madonna”, “Like A Virgin”) and marrying actor Sean Penn on her birthday in August of 1985, the newly anointed pop superstar takes a hiatus from public view. By December of 1985 she begins working on her third studio album “True Blue” with co-producer and musician Patrick Leonard. Leonard receives an offer to also write music for a film called “Fire With Fire” being produced by Paramount Pictures. He asks Madonna to write lyrics for one of the songs for the film’s score titling it “Live To Tell”. The track, initially recorded just as a demo, features Leonard on keyboards and drum programming, Jonathan Moffett on live drums, and Bruce Gaitsch on guitars. Madonna quickly lays down a scratch vocal on tape, which is recorded in only one take. When the deal with Paramount falls through, Madonna suggests they submit “Live To Tell” to James Foley, the director the film “At Close Range”, starring her husband, Christopher Walken and Chris Penn. Foley loves the song and agrees to use it. Madonna and Leonard goes back and attempt to re-cut her lead vocal, but when they find that it cannot be improved upon, it is just remixed and released as is. Released on March 26, 1986, three months in advance of “True Blue”, the ballad is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #49 on April 12, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Live To Tell” also marks the first of many times that Madonna dramatically revamps her image. Ditching the lace, crucifixes and rubber bracelets of the “Madonna”/“Like A Virgin” era, she reveals her new look in the music video for “Tell”. Now sporting shoulder length honey blonde hair, less makeup, and a simple floral print dress, her “new” understated glamorous look is reminiscent of screen legends like Grace Kelly and Marilyn Monroe. Fans and the media immediately take notice and praise the singer for the change. Madonna’s first public performance of “Live To Tell” is at an AIDS charity benefit at Madison Square Garden, dedicating the song to the memory of her friend and early supporter Martin Burgoyne who had recently passed from the illness. Never a stranger to controversy, when Madonna performs “Live To Tell” during live performances on the Confessions Tour in 2006, the song is staged with the singer wearing a crown of thorns while hanging on a giant mirrored cross. After the concert at Olympic Stadium in Rome, Italy on August 6, 2006, Madonna is rebuked by religious leaders who consider the performance “an act of hostility” toward the Roman Catholic Church.