On this day in music history: May 16, 1981 – &…

On this day in music history: May 16, 1981 – “Bette Davis Eyes” by Kim Carnes hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 9 weeks (non-consecutive). Written by Donna Weiss and Jackie DeShannon, it is the biggest hit for the L.A. born and raised singer and songwriter. Originally recorded by Jackie DeShannon (“What The World Needs Now Is Love”, “Put A Little Love In Your Heart”) in 1975, the song goes largely unnoticed by the public. George Tobin (Carnes’ producer at the time) plays Carnes the original version, and she doesn’t care for it in its original form. After they part ways, Co-writer Donna Weiss sends a copy of the song to Carnes’ new producer Val Garay, who dramatically reworks the songs arrangement with her keyboard player Bill Cuomo. Cuomo plays the songs signature keyboard riff on a Sequential Circuits Prophet-5 synthesizer. Issued in late February 1981 as the first single from “Mistaken Identity”, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on March 28, 1981, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The single spends five consecutive weeks at number one before being bumped from the top by the Stars On 45 “Medley” for one week. “Eyes” regains the top spot and spend another four weeks on top. The songs popularity is further boosted by a memorable music video directed by Russell Mulcahy (Duran Duran, “Highlander”). The single also wins two Grammy Awards, taking home the prizes for Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year in 1982. “Bette Davis Eyes” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.