Category: r&b

On this day in music history: November 17, 1992 – “The Bodyguard – Original Soundtrack Album” is released. Produced by David Foster, Robert Clivilles, David Cole, Narada Michael Walden, L.A. Reid, Babyface, Daryl Simmons, BeBe Winans, Walter Afanasieff, Ian Devaney, Andy Morris, Danny Kortchmar, Charlie Midnight and Roy Lott, it is recorded from Mid 1991 – Early 1992. The album serves as the soundtrack for the hugely successful film starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner. The film written by Lawrence Kasdan (“The Big Chill”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Body Heat”, “Raiders Of The Lost Ark”), is one of the first screenplays written by the Academy Award nominated screen writer, producer and director. Originally conceived as a film vehicle starring Diana Ross and Ryan O’Neal in the late 70’s, the script is stuck in development at Warner Bros for nearly two decades before it is finally made. With pop and R&B superstar Houston and Oscar winner Costner cast in the lead roles, the film is directed by Mick Jackson (“L.A. Story”). The accompanying soundtrack album features six tracks by Houston including the smash “I Will Always Love You”, which breaks the then current record of thirteen weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 set Boyz II Men’s “End Of The Road”. The album also features tracks by Curtis Stigers, Lisa Stansfield, Kenny G. & Aaron Neville, The S.O.U.L. System (featuring Michelle Visage), Joe Cocker (featuring Sass Jordan), and score composer Alan Silvestri. The soundtrack sells over forty four million copies worldwide, making it the biggest selling soundtrack of all time. The soundtrack wins three Grammy Awards including Record and Album Of The Year in 1994. “The Bodyguard” spends twenty weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 17x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.

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On this day in music history: November 17, 1982 – “Chaka Khan”, the fourth solo album by Chaka Khan is released. Produced by Arif Mardin, it is recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York City from Summer – Fall 1982. Issued as the official follow up to “What’cha Gonna Do For Me” (having also recorded the jazz standards album “Echoes of An Era” in the interim), the album features musical support from musicians such as Michael Brecker, Hamish Stuart, Will Lee, Joe Henderson, Anthony Jackson and also features Rick James on “Slow Dancin’”. It spins off two singles including her cover of the Michael Jackson classic “Got To Be There” (#5 R&B, #67 Pop) and “Tearin’ It Up” (#48 R&B). The track “Be Bop Medley” wins Khan and Mardin a Grammy Award for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices, and Chaka picks up a second Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female for the entire album in 1984. The album makes its CD debut in 1991, when it is released by Warner Music Japan. It is currently in print as part of the box set “Chaka Khan – Original Album Series” released by Warner Music Group UK in 2009. “Chaka Khan” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number fifty two on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: November 17, 1979 – “Still” by The Commodores hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on November 24, 1979. Written by Lionel Richie, it is the second chart topping single for the R&B band from Tuskegee, AL. Riding a huge wave of success after scoring their first number one pop single with “Three Times A Lady” the year before, The Commodores re-enter the studio in the early part of 1979 to begin recording their seventh studio album. Once again, showing his gift for writing heartfelt and emotional ballads, Richie writes “Still” as a companion piece to “Sail On”, the first single from the bands’ “Midnight Magic” album. Just as “Sail On” is inspired by the break up of a close childhood friends’ marriage, “Still” deals the aftermath of that break up. The songs’ narrative finds the couple realizing that even though their romantic relationship has ended, that they remain bonded to each other as friends. It becomes an instant favorite at radio when stations begin playing the nearly six minute long album cut, with some making their own edits. Its popularity grows so quickly that Motown is forced to rush release it in mid September of 1979, as “Sail On” is still rising up the pop and R&B charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #68 on September 29, 1979, it races to the top of the chart seven weeks later. Both “Still” and “Sail On” both briefly reside in the Top 10 at the same time, with “Sail On” holding at its peak position of number four for a second week on October 20, 1979, while “Still” pole vaults from #38 to #10 that same week. “Still” is The Commodores fourth million selling single in the US.

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On this day in music history: November 17, 1978 – “Destiny”, the twelfth album by The Jacksons is released. Produced by The Jacksons, it is recorded at Cherokee Studios, Total Experience Studios in Hollywood, CA, Wally Heider/Filmways Studios, The Record Plant and Dawnbreaker Studios in Los Angeles, CA from August – November 1978. Following the disappointing sales of the group’s second Epic album “Goin’ Places”, The Jacksons’ recording career hangs in the balance by mid 1978. CBS Records actually considers dropping them from the label, but former Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer turned A&R man Bobby Columby intervenes, convincing the executives to not only give the group another chance, but finally give them the creative and artistic control they have long desired. With the brothers writing the bulk of the material themselves, Columby and The Jacksons assemble a crack team of top notch studio musicians for the sessions that include Nathan Watts (bass), Ed Greene, Ricky Lawson, Claudio Slon, Rick Marotta (drums), Greg Phillinganes, Michael Boddicker (keyboards), Paulinho DaCosta, Laudir de Oliveira (percussion), Paul Jackson, Jr., Roland Bautista and Michael Sembello (guitars). The album is a major critical and commercial success upon its release, marking an important turning point in the group’s career. “Destiny” also becomes the jumping off point, of Michael Jackson’s solo career as an adult performer. It spins off two singles including “Blame It On The Boogie” (#3 R&B, #54 Pop) and the platinum selling “Shake Your Body (Down To The Ground)” (#3 R&B, #7 Pop). In 2008, the album is remastered and feature the original 12" dance mixes of “Boogie” and “Shake Your Body” remixed by John Luongo as bonus tracks. “Destiny” peaks at number three on the Billboard R&B album chart, number eleven on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 17, 1973 – “Space Race” by Billy Preston hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on November 24, 1973. Written and produced by Billy Preston, it is the second and final R&B chart topper for the prolific musician from Houston, TX. Originally titled “Funky Thing In A”, the instrumental track is released from Preston’s eighth studio album “Everybody Likes Some Kind Of Music”. Preston  debuts the ARP Odyssey synthesizer (introduced in 1972 as a rival to the popular Minimoog) on the song, using it to play the signature lead keyboard line. The track also features drummer Manuel Kellough and guitarist David T. Walker (with the horns arranged by Paul Riser). Issued as the follow up to his chart topping pop single “Will It Go ‘Round In Circles”, it is another smash for Preston. The song finds sustained popularity when Dick Clark uses it as a music bed for the mid show break on “American Bandstand”. “Space Race” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 17, 1962 – “Big Girls Don’t Cry” by The Four Seasons hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 3 weeks on the same date. Written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio, it is the second consecutive chart topping single for the New Jersey based quartet fronted by singer Frankie Valli. The songs’ title is inspired by a line in the 1955 western “Tennessee’s Partner” in which the actor John Payne slaps actress Rhonda Fleming in the face, and she replies with “big girls don’t cry”. The track is recorded at Universal Recording Studios in Chicago, IL in September of 1962, and is recorded by a young engineer named Bruce Swedien (Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson). Like its predecessor “Sherry”, it storms the charts quickly, when Vee Jay Records issues it as a single in early October of 1962. Entering the Hot 100 at #66 on October 20, 1962, it races to the top of the chart just four weeks later. Twenty five years after its original release, the song is also heard in the film and featured on the soundtrack to “Dirty Dancing”. The single is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2015, becoming The Four Seasons first recording to receive that honor. “Big Girls Don’t Cry” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: November 16, 1968 – “Hey, Western Union Man” by Jerry Butler hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #16 on the Hot 100 on the same date. Written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Jerry Butler, it is the second solo number one single for the legendary R&B vocalist nicknamed “The Iceman”. Butler meets the fledgling songwriter/producers in 1966 while performing at Uptown Theater in Philadelphia. Admirers of Butler from his years as lead singer of The Impressions and his early solo work, they suggest working together. The singer takes them up on their offer, and the trio begin writing songs together. The collaboration pays off immediately when the singles “Never Give You Up” and “Lost” reach the Top 10 on the R&B singles chart. Released as the third single from the landmark album “The Iceman Cometh”, the track is cut at Cameo-Parkway Studios (later known as Sigma Sound Studios) in Philadelphia on July 9, 1968, and features members of the studio band who become known as MFSB providing the musical backing. Released as a single in August of 1968, prior to the full album, it quickly becomes a smash. The success of “Hey Western Union Man” drives sales of “The Iceman Cometh” album past the million mark.

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On this day in music history: November 16, 1966 – “Watchout!”, the fourth album by Martha & The Vandellas is released. Produced by William “Mickey” Stevenson, Smokey Robinson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland and Harvey Fuqua, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from Spring 1964, Late 1965 – Mid 1966. The fourth full length release by the Motown vocal trio spins off three singles including “Jimmy Mack” (#1 R&B, #10 Pop) and “I’m Ready For Love” (#2 R&B, #9 Pop). “Jimmy Mack” is originally recorded in 1964 but is initially shelved until it is pulled from the vault and is released on this album. Several R&B stations add the song to their playlists as an LP cut. The highly positive public response to the song leads Motown to releasing it as a single in February of 1967. Only mono pressings of the album feature the original version of the song. The stereo version features an alternate recording of the song, differing noticeably from the hit single version, which is only available in mono until it is remixed from the original three track master tape in 2005. “Watchout!” peaks at number one hundred sixteen on the Billboard Top 200.

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On this day in music history: November 15, 2007 – The first episode of the music series “Live From Daryl’s House” is broadcast on the internet. Originally conceived as a web broadcast only, the show offers fans the opportunity to see musician Daryl Hall sing and play in a relaxed and intimate setting. The debut episode features Hall and his band performing in Hall’s upstate New York home, and shown on his website. Featuring his long time band mate and friend John Oates in the second episode, the show quickly grows in popularity and viewership online, to where the program picks up sponsorship to allow for improved production values. The series wins a Webby Award in 2010 for Best Variety Series, also earning an MTV O Music Award the same year. By 2011, Viacom cable network Palladia (later MTV-Live) takes over production of the show, and begins broadcasting “Live From Daryl’s House” in 2012. Featuring a who’s who of musical icons and upcoming musicians including Smokey Robinson, The O’Jays, Todd Rundgren, Chromeo, Billy Gibbons, Joe Walsh, Plain White T’s, Sharon Jones, and Cee-Lo Green among them, it becomes one of the most popular shows on cable television. In 2014, the show moves from Daryl Hall’s home to the club also named “Daryl’s House” just a short distance away in Pawling, NY, though some episodes are filmed in other locations depending on the guest performer. To date, more than eighty episodes of LFDH have been produced, airing regularly on MTV-Live, VH-1 and MTV-Classic.

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On this day in music history: November 15, 1994 – “CrazySexyCool”, the second album by TLC is released. Produced by Dallas Austin, Sean “Puffy” Combs, Jermaine Dupri, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Organized Noize, Jon-John Robinson, Manuel Seal and Chucky Thompson, it is recorded at DARP Studios, KrossWire Studios, Doppler Studios, Bosstown Recording Studios, Curtom Studios in Atlanta, GA, The Hit Factory, Daddy’s House in New York City and Music Grinder Studios in Hollywood, CA from Late 1993 – September 1994. Smashing the charts with their debut album “Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip”, TLC are quickly established as one of the biggest new acts of the 90’s. Unfortunately, the group discover that they’ve attained fame, but reap none of the financial rewards. Signed to Perri “Pebbles” Reid’s management company Pebbitone, rather than directly to La’Face Records, T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli find that they are receiving only meager royalties on their record sales. But they’re paying all of the costs to record and promote their records, from their share. In spite of this, they’re still committed to a second album. At the time, Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes is dating and living with Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Andre “Bad Moon” Rison. Lopes and Rison’s relationship is marred by constant arguments and physical fights. Coming home from a night out, Lisa finds boxes of sneakers Andre has purchased, and becomes angry when she finds he hasn’t bought any for her. She sets a pair of shoes on fire in Rison’s bathtub, to show her displeasure at his thoughtlessness. The fiberglass tub melts, and burns the house to the ground after Lopes flees the scene. Charged with arson, she checks into rehab for her alcoholism, stemming from her abusive upbringing, at the hands of her father. The incident inspires “Waterfalls” (#1 R&B, #1 Pop), with Lopes’ rap being written when she’s going to the studio. Titled “CrazySexyCool”, it is a description of TLC, with Left Eye being (“Crazy”), Chilli (“Sexy”) and T-Boz (“Cool”). An out of the box smash, it’s hailed as a great leap forward musically, showing their maturation from teen age girls into young women. It spins off four singles including “Creep” (#1 R&B, #1 Pop), “Red Light Special” (#5 R&B, #2 Pop) and “Diggin’ On You” (#7 R&B, #5 Pop). Other stand outs include a cover of Prince’s “If I Was Your Girlfriend”, “Kick Your Game” and “Sumthin’ Wicked This Way Comes”. “CrazySexyCool” is nominated for six Grammy Awards, winning two for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals in 1996. Issued as a promo only vinyl LP in 1994, it receives its first commercial release in 2012. “CrazySexyCool” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number three on the Top 200, and is certified 12x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, earning a Diamond Certification.

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