On this day in music history: July 9, 1977 – &…

On this day in music history: July 9, 1977 – “Undercover Angel” by Alan O’Day hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Alan O’Day, it is the biggest hit for the Hollywood, CA born singer and songwriter. Having performed in various groups in and around his native Los Angeles since he was a teenager, Alan O’Day begins his career as a professional songwriter in 1960. By the mid 1970’s, he writes several hits including the chart topping “Angie Baby” for Helen Reddy and “Rock And Roll Heaven” (#3 Pop) for The Righteous Brothers. While working as a staff songwriter for Warner Bros Music, O’Day is the first artist signed to the newly formed Pacific Records (distributed by Atlantic Records), a boutique label set up for the publishing companies writers who have recording aspirations of their own. The singer/songwriter is paired with producers Steve Barri (The Grass Roots, Rhythm Heritage) and Michael Omartian (Christopher Cross, Rod Stewart) to begin work on his second solo album. The demo for “Undercover Angel” is the first song that Alan plays for Barri who knows  immediately that it is “a smash”. The record’s distinctive echo in the pre-choruses is accomplished by sending O’Day’s vocal track to another tape machine and manually turning the reels fast, then slowing them down. Released as a single in February of 1977 with little fanfare, it initially gets off to a slow start. Entering the Hot 100 at #98 on April 2, 1977, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. Some US radio stations actually ban “Undercover Angel” from airplay due to some programmers believing it to be sexually suggestive. In spite of this, it sells nearly two million copies. Though Alan O’Day does not have another major hit after his number one smash, he continues to have a successful career as a songwriter, writing songs for the animated TV series “Muppet Babies” and National Geographic’s “Really Wild Animals”. Diagnosed with brain cancer in late 2012, sadly O’Day loses his battle with the disease on May 17, 2013 at the age of 72. “Undercover Angel” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.