On this day in music history: August 17, 1968 – “People Got To Be Free” by The Rascals hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also peaking at #14 on the R&B singles chart on September 28, 1968. Written by Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati, it is the third chart topper and biggest hit for the New York City based band. The song is written as a plea for racial tolerance and understanding during the height of the civil rights movement. It is inspired in part by an incident in Florida when the band are threatened by a group of rednecks after their tour vehicle breaks down while on the road. The recent assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy are also pivotal events that influence Cavaliere and Brigati when they write the song. The track is recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City on May 14, 1968. Released as a stand alone single on July 1, 1968, the songs message strikes an immediate chord with the public, quickly becoming a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #64 on July 20, 1968, it streaks to the top of the chart four weeks later. Though released at the time The Rascals issue their first greatest hits album “Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits”, “People Got To Be Free” does not make its LP debut until eight months later in March of 1969, when it is included on the bands next studio album “Freedom Suite”. “People Got To Be Free” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 9, 1983 – “An Innocent Man”, the ninth album by Billy Joel is released. Produced by Phil Ramone, it is recorded at Chelsea Sound and A&R Studios in New York City from March – June 1983. Coming off of the critically acclaimed “The Nylon Curtain”, musician Billy Joel turns his creative interests to lighter fare after the more serious and darker themes explored on the previous album. Recorded as a tribute to the music of his youth, many of the albums songs are inspired by his relationships with supermodels Elle Macpherson and Christie Brinkley, the latter of whom he marries in 1985. Feeling creatively inspired by the new romance, Joel writes all of the albums songs within a period of six weeks. It spins off six top 40 singles including “Tell Her About It” (#1 Pop), “Uptown Girl” (#3 Pop), “Leave A Tender Moment Alone” (#27 Pop) and the title track (#10 Pop). The record makes Billboard chart history as being one of only a small group, to chart hit singles in three separate calendar years (1983, 1984 and 1985). Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Janet Jackson, are the only other artists in the rock era to have pulled off this feat. A huge critical and commercial success, “Innocent” becomes one of the four largest selling studio albums of Billy Joel’s career (tying with “52nd Street” and “Glass Houses”). The album also receives two Grammy nominations including one for Album Of The Year in 1984. Originally released on CD in the early 80’s, the album remastered and reissued in 1998 as an enhanced CD, featuring the music videos for “Tell Her About It”, “Keeping The Faith”, “The Longest Time” and “Leave A Tender Moment Alone”. Out of print on vinyl since 1989, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Music On Vinyl in 2012. It is also released as a single layer SACD, with Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab reissuing the title as a hybrid SACD and as a 180 gram double vinyl LP (mastered at 45 RPM) in 2013. “An Innocent Man” peaks at number four on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 9, 1982 – “If That’s What It Takes”, the debut solo album by Michael McDonald is released. Produced by Ted Templeman and Lenny Waronker, it is recorded at Warner Bros Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA, Sunset Sound Recorders and Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood, CA from Late 1981 – Mid 1982. Having taken The Doobie Brothers to even greater success after joining in 1975, the endless cycle of recording and touring as well as increasing musical differences between the band members take their toll. After releasing the album “One Step Closer” in 1980, Toward the end of 1981, Michael McDonald begins recording his first solo album, working with long time Doobies producer Ted Templeman and Warner Bros staff producer and label executive Lenny Waronker. Calling on various friends many of whom represent the cream of the crop of L.A. studio players, join McDonald in the studio. That group includes Toto members Jeff Porcaro (drums) and Steve Lukather (guitar), Louis Johnson of The Brothers Johnson, Willie Weeks, Mike Porcaro (bass), Greg Phillinganes, Michael Boddicker (synthesizers, keyboards), Steve Gadd (drums), Robben Ford, Dean Parks (guitars), Tom Scott (lyricon), Edgar Winter (saxophone), Paulinho Da Costa, Bobby LaKind, Lenny Castro (percussion), Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross, Brenda Russell, Maureen McDonald, Kathy Walker and Amy Holland. The first single “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” (#4 Pop, #7 R&B, #8 AC) co-written with Ed Sanford of the Sanford/Townsend Band (“Smoke From A Distant Fire”), the cool and soulful song is an immediate multi-format smash. While it’s climbing the charts, songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller file suit, claiming that it is similar to their song of the same name originally recorded by Chuck Jackson in 1962. The suit is settled with Leiber and Stoller’s names added to the songwriting credits and being awarded royalties. The follow up “I Gotta Try” (#44, #28 AC) is co-written with old friend Kenny Loggins, records it himself and releases it on his fourth album “High Adventure” in September 1982. McDonald’s first solo album dove tails into the major success he enjoys throughout the 80’s and beyond. More than a decade later, “I Keep Forgettin’” resurfaces in sample form when Warren G. uses it as the basis of his huge hit “Regulate” (#2 Pop, #7 R&B, #1 Rap) in 1994. “Forgettin’” and “Regulate” are also the subjects of an episode of the popular online video series “Yacht Rock”. Both songs become plot devices in a hilarious fictionalized account in which Warren G. and Nate Dogg accidentally hit McDonald with their car, while the musician is out jogging. Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued as an SHM-CD by Warner Japan in 2016. “If That’s What It Takes” peaks at number six on the Billboard Top 200, number ten on the R&B album chart and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 9, 1975 – “Jive Talkin’” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the second chart topping single for the family trio from the Isle Of Man, UK. After the Bee Gees score their first number one single with “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”, they score another three top 40 hits in the US before experiencing another major downturn. Things change for the band, when they are paired with Atlantic Records staff producer Arif Mardin. Mardin plays an important role in the Bee Gees moving toward a more R&B based sound. “Jive Talkin’” is inspired while Barry Gibb and his wife are driving across the bridge to Criteria Studios in Miami, FL. Hearing the rhythm of their car tires going over the road, Gibbs’ wife Linda turns to him and says “listen, it’s our drive talking!!”. Instantly, Barry begins to sing the songs hooky chorus, altering the phrase to say “jive talking”. Arriving at the studio, Barry tells his brothers and producer Arif Mardin what he has come up with. Mardin tells the Gibb brothers who are unaware (at the time) that “jive talkin’” is an African American expression for “bullsh*tting”. Mardin is also instrumental in helping establish the tempo and rhythm arrangement. When RSO Records services “Jive Talkin’” to radio stations, they repeat a strategy used to help break the brothers in the US eight years before with “New York Mining Disaster 1941”. Promotional copies of the single are pressed with no indication of the artist is or the title on the label. The plan works and DJ’s enthusiastically embrace the record. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on May 31, 1975, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. It marks the beginning of the Bee Gees career resurgence on a worldwide basis, climaxing with the massive back to back successes of the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack and the album “Spirits Having Flown”. The original studio version is also included on the “Fever” soundtrack released in late 1977. However, it is removed due to a contractual dispute with RSO’s former distributor Atlantic Records who then still owned the rights to the recording. It is replaced on later pressings by the live version from “Here At Last… Bee Gees… Live”. In 1979, producer Arif Mardin files a million dollar lawsuit against RSO founder Robert Stigwood over the song, when he is not paid royalties for its inclusion on the soundtrack. The suit is eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. “Jive Talkin’” is also later covered by Boogie Box High, the alter ego of singer Andros Georgiou, the cousin of pop superstar George Michael. The Boogie Box version also features former Haircut 100 singer Nick Heyward, Style Council keyboardist Mick Talbot and Michael himself on backing vocals, it hits #7 on the UK singles chart in July of 1987. “Jive Talkin’” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 7, 1976 – “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John & Kiki Dee hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on September 11, 1976. Written by Elton John & Bernie Taupin, it is the sixth US chart topper for the superstar singer, songwriter and musician born Reginald Kenneth Dwight. A great lover of R&B music, especially Motown, pop music superstar Elton John talks to his long time songwriting partner Bernie Taupin about writing something in that vein. John and Taupin write “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” under the punning pseudonyms “Ann Orson & Carte Blanche” in early 1976. Once the song is written, John decides that it will work better as a duet. Initially Elton asks his friend Dusty Springfield to do the song, but declines when she is too ill at the time to make the session. Instead, he asks his fellow Rocket Records artist Kiki Dee to sing it with him. Recorded during sessions for the “Blue Moves” album, it is recorded at Eastern Sound Studios in Toronto in March of 1976. The track features John’s touring band which includes Davey Johnstone (guitars), Kenny Passerelli (bass), Roger Pope (drums), Ray Cooper (percussion) and arranger James Newton Howard (electric piano, string arrangements). Released as a stand alone single in June of 1976, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” does not appear on an album until the release of “Elton John’s Greatest Hits V. II” in 1977. Entering the Hot 100 at #66 on July 3, 1976, it streaks to the top of the chart five weeks later. The song is also Elton’s first chart topping single in his home country, spending six weeks at number one on the UK singles chart. A year after “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” tops the chart, John performs the song on “The Muppet Show”, dueting with Miss Piggy to great comic effect. Elton re-records the song with RuPaul on the album “Duets” in 1993. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 7, 1971 – “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the first US chart topper for the superstar family trio from The Isle Of Man, UK. Following the Bee Gees initial period of worldwide success in 1967 and 1968, the band implodes in 1969 when infighting and excessive drinking causes Robin to abruptly quit for a solo career, with Barry also opting for the same a short time later. After eighteen months apart, they eventually reconcile in the Summer of 1970, making a vow to each other never to part again. Inspiration comes quickly with the brothers writing numerous new songs together. Among them is the ballad “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart”. The track is recorded at IBC Studios in London on January 28, 1971, and is the first single from the bands ninth album “Trafalgar”. Surprisingly, the song fails to chart in the Bee Gees home country of the UK. But with the recent top five success of their comeback smash “Lonely Days” (#3 Pop), “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” is an even bigger hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #73 on June 26, 1971, it rises to the top of the chart six weeks later. The single also earns the Bee Gees their first Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group with Vocals in 1972. In 2001, a previously unreleased alternate version of the classic song surfaces. This version features different piano and bass tracks, and with Barry singing the first verse instead of Robin. This version appears on first run UK pressings of the hits compilation “Their Greatest Hits: The Record”. This was the result of a filing error in Universal’s tape archive in London, with the wrong master being pulled from the vault. The CD is quickly withdrawn and replaced with the correct version. One the most popular and frequently covered songs by the Bee Gees, the song is also recorded by Al Green, Johnny Mathis, Cher, Teddy Pendergrass, Diana Krall, Rod Stewart, Ruben Studdard, and Michael Buble. Green’s 1971 recording of the song is made over into duet for the soundtrack of the romantic comedy “Notting Hill”, with singer Joss Stone adding her vocals to the track. The Bee Gees original version is also included on the soundtrack to the film “American Hustle” in 2013. “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 30, 1988 – “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, topping the Mainstream Rock chart for 4 weeks on June 25, 1988, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on August 6, 1988, and peaking at #30 on the R&B singles chart on August 13, 1988. Written by Steve Winwood, Will Jennings, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and musician from Handsworth, Birmingham, UK. Following the huge success of his multi-platinum selling and multiple Grammy winning album “Back In The High Life”, Steve Winwood leaves Island Records, his label home of over twenty years when Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Records offers the musician a lucrative contract with the label. When Winwood begins work on his first album for his new label, he collaborates once again with lyricist Will Jennings, having co-written several hits together including “While You See A Chance”, “Valerie”, “The Finer Things” and “Higher Love”. The pair write seven of the new album’s eight songs including the title track “Roll With It”. Heavily influenced by R&B music throughout his life, and having recently relocated to Tennessee after meeting and marrying his second wife Eugenia, Winwood begins writing a song with a strong Memphis Soul/Motown feel that becomes “Roll With It”. When the track is recorded, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love (aka The Memphis Horns) are recruited to play on the song. Released in late May of 1988, as the first single and title track to his fifth solo album, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #53 on June 11, 1988, it races to the top of the chart seven weeks later. “Roll With It” receives a pair of Grammy nominations in 1989 including Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Record Of The Year. Not long after the single tops the charts, Jobete Music and BMI, recognizes the similarities between “Roll With It” and Jr. Walker And The All Stars’ 1966 hit “(I’m A) Road Runner”, and award a co-writing credit to the songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland as well as back and future royalty earnings on the song.
On this day in music history: July 30, 1977 – “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” by Andy Gibb hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks (non-consecutive), also peaking at #19 on the R&B singles chart on October 15, 1977. Written and co-produced by Barry Gibb, it is the debut and first chart topping single for the pop vocalist from Manchester, UK. Born Andrew Roy Gibb on March 5, 1958, Andy is the youngest of five siblings and of the four Gibb brothers which includes oldest brother Barry and fraternal twins Robin and Maurice. When Andy is only five months old, the Gibb family leave their home in England for the Brisbane, Queensland Australia suburb of Redcliffe, when their bandleader father Hugh is unable to find steady work. The family immigrates to also help Barry, Robin & Maurice to launch their music career. Only eight years old at the time when the Bee Gees are enjoying their first taste of success in the mid 60’s, Andy aspires to follow them into the pop music spotlight. Nearly a decade passes before he is ready to make his entry on to the world stage. Forming his first band in 1974, Andy also concentrates on writing music and recording demos. Some of those demos reach Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood, who signs the youngest Gibb brother to RSO Records in 1976. At that time, Barry summons his brother to come to the US to work on songs for his first album. While vacationing at Stigwood’s estate on the island of Bermuda, Barry comes up with the song idea that develops into “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” in only twenty minutes. The track is recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL in October of 1976, and features Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh, who at the time happens to be working in an adjoining studio on the “Hotel California” album. During that same period, Barry and Andy also write “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water” together, which is initially considered to for Andy’s debut single. At the last minute they change their minds and issue “I Just Want To Be Your Everything”, as the first release from his debut album “Flowing Rivers”. Released in late March of 1977, the single enters the Hot 100 at #88 on April 23, 1977. Making a slow but steady ascent up the chart, it climbs to the top fourteen weeks later. “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” spends three weeks at the top, and falling as low as #3 (bowing to The Emotions’ “Best Of My Love”) then after four weeks regains the top spot for one more week on September 17, 1977. “Everything” spends a then record thirty one weeks on the chart, and is the first of three consecutive number one singles Andy Gibb scores on the Hot 100 over the next eleven months. “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 29, 1980 – “Voices”, the ninth album by Daryl Hall & John Oates is released. Produced by Daryl Hall and John Oates, it is recorded at The Hit Factory and Electric Lady Studios in New York City from April – May, September – November 1979. Following the release of three critically acclaimed, but poor selling albums (“Beauty On A Back Street”, “Along The Red Ledge”, and “X-Static”), the duo rebound with what becomes their biggest selling release to date. Taking the production reigns of their records for the first time in their career, Hall & Oates successfully bridge the gap between the more musically eclectic aspects of their music by combining it with a more streamlined and radio friendly pop sound. The album spins off four singles including “You Make My Dreams” (#5 Pop), “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ (#12 Pop) and "Kiss On My List” (#1 Pop). The album also features the duos original version of “Everytime You Go Away”, which becomes a number one single for Paul Young in July of 1985. The success of “Voices” set the duo on the path to scoring a total of five #1 singles and twenty top 40 hits during the 80’s. That achievement makes them the most successful pop music duo in history. First issued on CD in 1983, it is remastered and reissued in 2004 by BMG Heritage. It is also remastered and reissued as a hybrid SACD by Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab in 2013, with a 180 gram vinyl LP being released by the label in 2014. “Voices” peaks at number seventeen on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 27, 1985 – “Everytime You Go Away” by Paul Young hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on August 10, 1985. Written by Daryl Hall, it is the biggest hit for the British blue eyed soul vocalist from Luton, Bedfordshire, UK. Initially making his breakthrough in the UK with the album “No Parlez” and the hit singles “Come Back And Stay”, “Love Of The Common People” and “Wherever I Lay My Hat (That Is My Home)”, singer Paul Young also develops the beginnings of a loyal following in the US. Influenced heavily by American R&B music and blessed with an instantly recognizable and distinctive voice, it does not take Young long to become a worldwide star. Though midway through a tour to promote his debut album in the US, Paul is sidelined for much of 1984, when he seriously strains his vocal cords. Ordered to rest his voice, he immediately leaves the road and allows himself time to recover. Back in good voice by the end of the year, Young participates in the recording of Band Aid’s landmark charity single “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, as the first vocalist heard on the track. Shortly after, Paul returns to the studio with producer Laurie Latham to work on his second album. Titled “The Secret Of Association”, the album consists of half original songs and half cover versions, including a cover version of soul singer Ann Peebles’ “I’m Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down”. Among the other songs Young covers on the album includes “Everytime You Go Away”. Written by Daryl Hall and featured on Hall & Oates 1980 album “Voices”, the song is never released as a single by the duo. Recognizing the song as a diamond in the rough, Laurie Latham and keyboardist Ian Kewley come up with an arrangement for it. Giving it a contemporary, but slightly retro feel, “Everytime” features Young’s bassist Pino Palladino playing his now trademark late 70’s fretless Music Man Stingray bass and Chapman Stick, guitarist John Turnbull on acoustic guitar (an Ovation bowl back) and for an added retro touch, a vintage Coral Electric Sitar which provides the new version with one of its most distinctive traits. Drummer Mark Pinder programs the Linn LM-1 drum machine and plays percussion, and Ian Kewley is featured on keyboards, with background vocals by future Londonbeat members Jimmy Chambers and George Chandler, and Tony Jackson. Released as the first single from “Secret” in April of 1985, it quickly becomes a worldwide smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #70 on May 11, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. “Everytime You Go Away” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.