On this day in music history: January 8, 1977 …

On this day in music history: January 8, 1977 – “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love)” by The O’Jays hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #72 on the Hot 100 on February 5, 1977. Written and produced by Kenneth Gamble & Leon Huff, it is the seventh chart topper for the R&B vocal trio from Canton, OH. The initial inspiration for the song comes from Kenny Gamble’s then wife, singer Dee Dee Sharp (“Mashed Potato Time”, “Ride!”). “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby” marks a shift away from the more message oriented songs that Gamble and Huff often wrote for The O’Jays. Released as the second single from groups’ album “Message In The Music” in November of 1976, it quickly follows its predecessor up the R&B singles chart. It is also The O’Jays last hit single to feature original member William Powell, who passes away from cancer on May 26, 1977 at the age of 35. Powell is replaced by former Little Anthony & The Imperials member Sammy Strain, who remains with the group until 1992, before returning to The Imperials. “Darlin’ Darlin’ Baby (Sweet, Tender, Love)” is sampled in 1997 as the basis for Big Pun’s breakthrough single “I’m Not A Player/Still Not A Player”.