On this day in music history: July 19, 1975 – “Fight The Power” by The Isley Brothers hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on September 27, 1975. Written by Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, Chris Jasper, Ronald Isley, Rudolph Isley and O’Kelly Isley, it is the second R&B chart topper for the family band from Cincinnati, OH. Though credited to the entire band, the song is actually written almost entirely by guitarist Ernie Isley. The initial idea for the song comes to him while on a visit to Disneyland in Southern California. As he’s taking a shower, the lyrics to the first verse immediately come to him, forcing him to jump out of the shower to write it down before forgetting it. A short time later, the band cut the track at Kendun Recorders in Los Angeles. Older brother and lead singer Ronald Isley adds the crowning touch to the song by singing the word “bullsh*t” on the song instead of “nonsense” as it had been originally written. Part 2 of the commercial 45 also includes an awkward edit, cutting out the expletive by splicing in music from the songs intro. This version is also serviced to radio as well. Many stations that are unhappy with this edit make their own edits, often just bleeping out the offending word in the proper places. Issued as the first single from the bands twelfth studio album “The Heat Is On” in May of 1975, it is an immediate smash. “Fight The Power” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 19, 1975 – “Listen To What The Man Said” by Wings hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written and produced by Paul McCartney, it is the fourth US solo chart topper for the former Beatle. Following the huge critical and commercial success of “Band On The Run” during 1974, Paul McCartney once again looks for another change of locale to record the follow up. Prior to the sessions, guitarist Jimmy McCullough (formerly of Thunderclap Newman) and drummer Geoff Britton are added to Wings’ line up. The band begin recording the track at songwriter and producer Allen Toussaint’s Sea Saint Studios in New Orleans in early 1975. Unsatisfied with the initial results, they rework parts of the track at Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles, CA. The single also features saxophonist Tom Scott and guitarist Dave Mason playing on the track. “Listen To What The Man Said” is the first single released from the bands fourth album “Venus And Mars” on May 16, 1975. Entering the Hot 100 at #65 on May 31, 1975, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. “Listen To What The Man Said” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
Born on this day: July 17, 1950 – Singer, songwriter and musician Phoebe Snow (born Phoebe Ann Laub in New York, NY). Happy Birthday to this wonderfully talented lady on what would have been her 68th Birthday.
Born on this day: July 17, 1928 – Jazz pianist and composer Vince Guaraldi (born Vincent Anthony Guaraldi in San Francisco, CA). Happy Birthday to this jazz music icon on what would have been his 90th Birthday.
On this day in music history: July 16, 1977 – “Easy” by The Commodores hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on August 27, 1977. Written by Lionel Richie, it is the third R&B chart topper for the band from Tuskegee, AL. Born and raised in Alabama, songwriter and musician Lionel Richie grows up influenced by many different genres of music including R&B, pop and country music. All three musical styles come together when Richie writes the song “Easy”, about a man coming to terms with the end of a relationship. “Easy” is released on March 18, 1977 in advance of The Commodores self-titled fifth album. The pop/soul ballad becomes a multi-format smash, becoming their third number one R&B hit and their biggest pop single to date. The million selling “Easy” takes The Commodores to the next level of success in their career, helping drive sales of the “Commodores” album to 2x Platinum status. Over the years it is covered numerous times by pop, rock and country artists including Clarence Carter, Faith No More and Boyz II Men. Lionel Richie himself covers “Easy” in 2012 with country music icon Willie Nelson, on the duets album “Tuskegee”.
On this day in music history: July 15, 1989 – “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Simply Red hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 6 weeks on June 24, 1989, also peaking at #38 on the R&B singles chart on July 8, 1989. Written by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, it is the second and final US chart topper for the Manchester, UK pop/soul band fronted by lead singer Mick Hucknall. The track is a cover of the Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes classic (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) originally recorded in 1972. Having included at least one cover per album since their debut, Simply Red decide to do a version of the Philly Soul classic for their new album, recording it at AIR Studios in Montserrat, W.I. in late 1988. Released as the first single from their third album “A New Flame, it becomes their second biggest single. Entering the Hot 100 at #81 on May 6, 1989, climbing to the top of the chart ten weeks later. Simply Red’s recording of the song wins songwriters Gamble & Huff a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Song in 1990. "If You Don’t Know Me By Now” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 14, 1979 – “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on July 21, 1979. Written by Donna Summer, Eddie Hokenson, Bruce Sudano and Joe Esposito, it is the third pop chart topper and biggest hit for the Boston, MA born singer and songwriter. Summer is inspired to write the song (collaborating with the group Brooklyn Dreams) when her personal assistant is mistaken as being a street prostitute by a police officer, while walking down Sunset Blvd near Casablanca’s offices. Upon hearing her demo recording, Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart suggests that Donna give the song to Cher. Summer refuses to give the song away, and files the tape away until engineer Steve Smith discovers the demo during recording sessions for the “Bad Girls” album in early 1979. His enthusiasm for the song encourages Donna to record it herself. Due to intense public demand, Casablanca Records rush releases “Bad Girls” as a single on May 14, 1979, just one month after the first single “Hot Stuff”. The two singles are released so closely together, that both reside in the top five on the pop chart for six consecutive weeks. Entering the Hot 100 at #55 on May 26, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The success of the single helps drive sales of the album to over 3x Platinum status in the US. The huge success of the singles and album, lead the ABC television network to offering Summer the opportunity to host her own television special. “The Donna Summer Special” directed by Don Mischer (The Academy Awards) airs on January 27, 1980. “Bad Girls” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.