On this day in music history: July 12, 1976 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1976 – “Still The One” by Orleans is released. Written by John and Johanna Hall, it is the sixth single release for the pop/rock band from Woodstock, NY. Formed in 1972 by John Hall (guitar, vocals), Wells Kelly (drums, percussion, keyboards, vocals), and brothers Lance (bass, vocal) and Larry Hoppen (lead vocals, guitar, keyboards), the band are signed to ABC Records in 1973 after playing the club and college circuit. Their first two albums released (“Orleans” and “Orleans II”) fail to produce any hits, and are dropped. Their luck changes when they meet producer and engineer Chuck Plotkin (Bruce Springsteen) in late 1974, after playing at Max’s Kansas City. Then the head of A&R for Asylum Records, Plotkin signs Orleans to the label and produce them. Their third album “Let There Be Music” released in March 1975, features a re-recorded version of the song “Dance With Me” (#6 Pop), becoming their first major hit. For the follow up, they are joined by second drummer Jerry Marotta. While writing material for the bands fourth album, guitarist and songwriter John Hall along with his then wife Johanna write “Still The One”. The initial idea comes to Johanna while doing the couples laundry, meditating on the ups and downs of long term relationships, while emphasizing a strong and loving bond. Quickly grabbing the nearest piece of paper, she writes the lyrics on the back on an envelope. Later showing what she’s written to John, he writes chords for the song in only fifteen minutes. “Still” is recorded in the Spring of 1976 at the Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA (engineered by Val Garay and Greg Ladanyi). Released as the first single from “Waking And Dreaming”, it is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on July 31, 1976, it peaks at #5 on October 23, 1976, becoming Orleans biggest hit. After its run on the charts, the song receives another boost when ABC uses the song extensively in ads to promote their programming line ups in 1977 and 1979. With the departure of John Hall from Orleans in 1977, the band continue on, and manage to score one more top 40 single with “Love Takes Time” (#11 Pop) in 1979. In later years, the album cover of “Waking And Dreaming” taken by photographer Gary Heery (Frank Zappa, Eddie Money), is lampooned and frequently mentioned on “worst album covers of all time” lists. The image features the band posed shirtless and appearing to be totally nude (though the photo is cropped above the waist) with their arms around each other. Originally intended to symbolize the bands friendship and solidarity, it appears to many as unintentionally homoerotic and humorous. Becoming a US Congressman in the late 2000’s, John Hall publicly expresses his disapproval to George W. Bush and John McCain when both use “Still The One” during their Presidential campaigns without permission. “Still The One” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.