On this day in music history: October 9, 1976 – “Just To Be Close To You” by The Commodores hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles charts for 2 weeks, also peaking at #7 on the Hot 100 on November 27, 1976. Written by Lionel Richie, it is the second chart topping single for the R&B/Funk band from Tuskegee, AL. Following the success of their first R&B chart topper “Slippery When Wet” and the top five R&B and pop smash “Sweet Love” (#2 R&B, #5 Pop), The Commodores continue to build and expand their fan base. Having penned the ballad “Sweet Love”, Lionel Richie becomes a creative force to be reckoned with in the band, following that success. Richie takes advice from veteran Motown producer Hal Davis who advises Richie, “the key to this (music) business is year after year.” Davis means that the only way you can sustain a long career is to consistently make hits year after year. Taking that seriously into consideration, Lionel focuses upon and fine tunes his songwriting talents. This work ethic helps turn him into one of the most successful songwriters of all time. One of the first songs he writes for the bands fourth album is the ballad “Just To Be Close To You”. The nearly six and a half minute track (edited down to under three and a half minutes for single release) quickly become a hit on R&B radio, though they initially face resistance from some major pop stations, feeling that that the song is “too black”. Listener demand forces the hand of many radio programmers and it become The Commodores second major pop hit. Issued as the first single in August of 1976, “Just To Be Close To You" becomes a firm fan favorite, and a highlight of the bands live performances. The single also drives the accompanying album “Hot On The Tracks” to number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, becoming their first chart topping album and to number twelve on the Top 200.
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