On this day in music history: June 18, 1988 – “Together Forever” by Rick Astley hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Club Play chart for 1 week on May 28, 1988. Written and produced by Stock, Aitken & Waterman, it is the second US chart topper for the singer from Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, UK. Following the UK release and subsequent chart topping success of Rick Astley’s debut single “Never Gonna Give You Up”, the production and songwriting team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, conceive the idea of writing another song in a similar vein to “Give You Up”. Using much of the same song structure and chord changes as its predecessor, “Together Forever” comes together quickly. The track is recorded at Stock Aitken & Waterman’s PWL Studios in London in the Summer of 1987, with Astley recording his vocals shortly after. In the UK, it is released as the third single from “Whenever You Need Somebody” in February of 1988. However, Rick narrowly missed the top of the UK singles chart, stopping at #2. Ironically, he is denied a second trip to the top by singer and actress Kylie Minogue’s debut single “I Should Be So Lucky”, which is also written and produced by SAW. In the US, the timing proves to be just right, with “Together Forever” being issued as the follow up to “Never Gonna Give You Up” in early April of 1988. Entering the Hot 100 at #62 on April 16, 1988, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. Also a smash on club dance floors, “Forever” also reaches the top of the US club play chart. The single helps drive the “Whenever You Need Somebody” album past the 2x Platinum mark in the US.
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 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 14, 1986 – “Nasty” by Janet Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on July 19, 1986. Written by James Harris III, Terry Lewis and Janet Jackson, it is the second R&B chart topper for the youngest member of the Jackson musical family. The song is inspired by an incident that takes place while Janet is hanging out with the producers, and childhood friend Melanie Andrews in Minneapolis. Jackson is accosted by two aggressive men stalking her on the street, and are being verbally abusive. Rather than running to someone for assistance, Jackson stands her ground, making them back off. The track and vocals for “Nasty” are recorded at Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ Flyte Tyme Studios in September 1985. The songs distinctive rhythm is generated by using a factory preset sound on an Ensoniq Mirage digital sampler/synthesizer. Issued as the second single from “Control” on April 15, 1986, it is the follow up to her first chart topper “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”. The song is supported by a highly memorable video shot on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, in front of the same liquor store that U2 films their “rooftop concert” video for “Where The Streets Have No Name” a year later. The clip for “Nasty” is directed by Mary Lambert (Madonna, Prince, Chris Isaak, Annie Lennox), and is choreographed by Paula Abdul who also makes a cameo appearance. “Nasty” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 13, 1988 – “Forever Your Girl”, the debut album by Paula Abdul is released. Produced by Oliver Leiber, Glen Ballard, Elliot Wolff, L.A. Reid & Babyface, Jesse Johnson and Curtis Williams, it is recorded at Creation Audio in Minneapolis, MN, Studio Masters, Silverlake Studios, Keith “K.C.” Cohen Studios, JHL Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Studio 55 and Kren Studio in Hollywood, CA, House Of Music Studios in West Orange, NJ, and Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA from Late 1987 – Early 1988. The former L.A. Lakers cheerleader and choreographer begins recording her debut album for Virgin Records at night while working on dance sequences for the Eddie Murphy comedy “Coming To America” during the day. After it is released, the album initially gets off to a slow start, but quickly picks up momentum when the third single “Straight Up” (#1 Pop) breaks on top 40 pop radio. It spins off a total of six hit singles, five of them reaching the top five, with four of them hitting number one on the Hot 100 including “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me” (#3 Pop, #10 R&B), “Cold Hearted” (#1 Pop), “Opposites Attract” (#1 Pop), and the title track (#1 Pop). “Girl” sets a Billboard chart record for the slowest climb for an album to number one, finally reaching the top in its sixty fourth week on the Top 200. That lengthy climb breaks the previous record set by Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled 1975 album, which ascends to the top of the pop album chart in its fifty eighth week. “Forever Your Girl” also wins Abdul a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Video for the single “Opposites Attract” in 1990. The albums’ tremendous popularity is such, that it spins off a remix album titled "Shut Up And Dance” in 1990, featuring dance remixes of all of the singles from “Girl”. It too also reaches the top ten on the Top 200 and turns Platinum. “Forever Your Girl” spends ten weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 11, 1977 – “I’m Your Boogie Man” by KC & The Sunshine Band hits # 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on June 4, 1977. Written and produced by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, it is the fourth chart topping single for the R&B/Disco band from Hialeah, FL led by keyboardist and lead singer Harry Wayne “KC” Casey. Casey and Finch write the song as a tribute to a Miami radio DJ named Robert W. Walker who was instrumental in helping break the bands first chart topping single “Get Down Tonight”. On the LP, “Boogie” is paired together with “Keep It Comin’ Love” (#2 Pop, #1 R&B), with the two songs edited so that they segue into each and play as one long continuous song. “I’m Your Boogie Man” is issued as the second single from the bands fourth studio album “Part 3”. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on February 26, 1977, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. “I’m Your Boogie Man” is also covered by White Zombie in 1996 for the soundtrack to “The Crow – City Of Angels”. The original version is featured in the film “Scary Movie” and its sequels, the comedy “Superbad”, as well as the 2011 action adventure film “Watchmen”.
On this day in music history: June 9, 1979 – “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on June 16, 1979. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the second consecutive chart topper and title track from the groups third album. Following the success of Chic’s self-titled debut album and the singles “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and “Everybody Dance”, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers are offered the opportunity to work with any artist they choose on the Atlantic Records roster. Instead of opting to produce one of the labels established stars like The Rolling Stones or Bette Midler, they ask who has sold the fewest records. The Atlantic executive mentions Sister Sledge, a family vocal quartet from Philadelphia who have been with the label since 1975, but have only had minimal sales and chart success. In spite of this, the label is very fond of the group saying that “they’re good girls and feel like family to us”. That conversation provides the inspiration for what becomes Sister Sledge’s biggest hit. The main riff of “We Are Family” is inspired by a song called “Do What You Wanna Do” by Puerto Rican singer Martha Veléz. Recorded at The Power Station in New York City, lead singer Kathy Sledge delivers her lead vocal on the song in just one take, with Bernard Edwards feeding her the lyrics through her headphones one line at a time while tracking her vocals. A huge crossover smash, “We Are Family” is adopted as an anthem for various sports organizations including the Pittsburgh Pirates, and is featured in numerous films and television shows. Songwriter, producer, and musician Nile Rodgers also forms the non profit “We Are Family Foundation” in 2001 to create programs to educate and inspire people to solve problems affecting the world. “We Are Family” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 8, 1979 – “Discovery”, the eighth studio album by the Electric Light Orchestra is released. Produced by Jeff Lynne, it is recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, W. Germany from March – April 1979. By the end of 1978, the Electric Light Orchestra are one of the biggest rock bands in the world, following the success of the albums “Eldorado”, “Face The Music”, “A New World Record” and “Out Of The Blue”. Responding to criticism that “Blue” was “over produced”, bandleader Jeff Lynne decides to alter the heavily orchestrated sound that has become ELO’s trademark, by all but eschewing the string section on the bands’ next album. Returning to their home base studio Musicland Studios in Munich, ELO is pared down to the basic quartet of Lynne (vocals, guitars); Bev Bevan (drums), Richard Tandy (keyboards) and Kelly Groucutt (bass). Continuing his prolific streak of creativity, Lynne writes all of the material on the new album. With disco reaching the peak of its popularity, he writes several of the songs marrying poppy hook laden melodies to the four on the floor back beat. Titling the album “Discovery”, keyboardist Tandy jokingly refers to it as “disco-very”, wryly making reference to the influence of disco on the project. This new sound is most overt on the up tempo first single “Shine A Little Love” (#8 Pop) which is an immediate hit. In spite of some grousing and backlash from some critics and fans over the musical shift, “Discovery” becomes one of the ELO’s biggest selling albums. It spins off two more singles including “Last Train To London” (#39 Pop) and “Don’t Bring Me Down” (#4 Pop). The now iconic cover artwork for “Discovery” designed by art directors Norman Moore and Paul Gross of the famed graphic design firm Gribbitt! (cover photos by Jim Shea), features an actor as Aladdin holding ELO’s neon art deco spaceship on the front cover, and running from sword wielding arabian guards on the inner spread of the gatefold sleeve. The arab guard on the back cover is actor and comedian Brad Garrett (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) in one of his first professional acting jobs. Some copies of the UK LP come packaged with a poster of the band. To promote the album, ELO make music videos for all of the songs in lieu of a tour. These are released as one of the first commercially available video albums on VHS tape in 1979. It is reissued on DVD and laserdisc as a bonus feature on the “Out Of The Blue Tour” concert video in 1998. One of the first albums to be issued on CD by CBS/Sony in late 1982, it is remastered and reissued in 2001 with three additional bonus tracks. It is remastered and reissued as a limited edition 180 gram LP, individually numbered and pressed on clear vinyl by Sony Legacy in 2016. This version is available exclusively through retailer Barnes & Noble. “Discovery” peaks at number five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 6, 1987 – “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” by Kim Wilde hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, it is the biggest hit for the British pop/new wave singer. Born Kim Smith in the West London suburb of Chiswick in 1960, she is the eldest daughter of 50’s teen pop idol Marty Wilde. With both of her parents coming from a musical background, Kim becomes involved in music herself in her teens along with her younger brother Ricky. Adapting her famous father’s stage surname in 1980, Kim is signed to RAK Records by label founder Mickie Most (The Animals, Donovan, Herman’s Hermits, Hot Chocolate). Her debut single “Kids In America” written by her father and brother and released in early 1981, is a huge worldwide smash, even cracking the Top 30 (#25 Pop) on the Billboard Hot 100 in August of 1982. While Kim has major success in Europe and throughout the rest of the world, further American chart success proves elusive even after switching to MCA Records in 1984. For her fifth album “Another Step”, Kim again works with her brother as well as songwriter Rod Temperton and engineer Bruce Swedien also producing tracks for the project. While working with Ricky, they come up with the idea of recording a cover of The Supremes’ 1966 classic “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”. For their remake, it is made over with Hi-NRG synth pop arrangement. Released in the UK first in October of 1986, it peaks at #2 on the UK singles chart. Off of the back of its European chart success, MCA Records in the US releases it in March of 1987. Entering the Hot 100 at #96 on March 28, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later, replacing U2’s “With Or Without You at the top. Wilde’s version of "You Keep Me Hangin’ On” becomes the sixth song of the rock era to top the US singles charts by two different artists. It is also the third time the song has reached the top ten by different artists, with versions The Supremes and Vanilla Fudge having proceeded it. While Wilde continues to be successful throughout the world for the rest of the 80’s and into the early 90’s, she’ll only charts two more times on the Hot 100 with the singles “Say You Really Want Me” (#41 Pop) and “You Came” (#44 Pop), both stopping outside the Top 40. Still recording and performing today, Wilde is a currently a presenter on radio with programs on the air in London and in Germany.