Category: 90’s

Television, film, stage and voice actor René Auberjonois (born René Murat Auberjonois in New York, NY) – June 1, 1940 – December 8, 2019, RIP

Sesame Street puppeteer Carroll Spinney (born Carroll Edwin Spinney in Waltham, MA) – December 26, 1933 – December 8, 2019, RIP

On this day in music history: December 8, 1990 – “Because I Love You (The Postman Song)” by Stevie B. hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on January 19, 1991. Written by Warren Allen Brooks, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and producer from Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Born Steven Bernard Hill, Stevie B. is involved in music from an early age, forming the band LUV in high school with friend and future R&B star Howard Johnson (“So Fine”, “Keepin’ Love New”). After the band splits following Johnson’s departure to join Niteflyte (“If You Want It”), Stevie continues to make music on his his own, starting his own label Midtown Records and releasing the singles “Sending Out For Love” under his own name, and “Boy Toy” under moniker Friday Friday Featuring Stevie B.. Then in 1987, he records and releases the song “Party Your Body”, an uptempo dance track that becomes a huge hit in Miami and several other cities where Freestyle is popular like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The record attracts the attention of New York based dance label LMR Records who signs Stevie, and re-releases the single early in 1988. A string of other hits follow including “Dreamin’ Of Love”, “Spring Love” and “I Wanna Be The One”. By 1990, LMR has aligned itself with major label RCA Records as the singer is working on his third album “Love & Emotion”. Looking for a change of pace from his dance oriented material, Stevie records the ballad “Because I Love You”, written by co-collaborator Warren Allen Brooks who has also penned four other songs on the album including the title track. Issued as the second single from the album in September of 1990, the song is an across the board smash, hitting the pop and AC charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on October 6, 1990, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. After spending a month at the top of the US singles chart, “Because I Love You” is also a hit internationally, hitting the top ten in ten foreign countries including the UK, France, Germany, Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand. Stevie B. scores another top 40 hit with the follow up “I’ll Be By Your Side” (#12 Pop), he is unable to match the success of his chart topping hit. Still a popular concert draw, Stevie is still recording, having released his most recent album “The King Of Hearts” in 2014. “Because I Love You (The Postman Song)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 7, 1991 – “Black Or White” by Michael Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Michael Jackson and Bill Bottrell, it is the twelfth solo chart topper (sixteenth overall) for “The King Of Pop”. Issued as the first single from Jackson’s eighth album “Dangerous” on November 11, 1991, the single is premiered on radio just days before its arrival in stores. The track is supported by an elaborate eleven minute long short film directed by John Landis (“Thriller”), also starring actors Macaulay Culkin (“Home Alone”), George Wendt (“Cheers”) and Tess Harper (“Tender Mercies”, “Breaking Bad”). The video also breaks new ground visually for the face morphing sequence created by Pacific Data Images, digitally morphing the actors lip synching the song seamlessly into each other. Among the people seen during the sequence include model Tyra Banks and actors Khrystyne Haje, Cree Summer and Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter. The clip has its broadcast debut simultaneously on MTV, BET, VH1, and the Fox television network on November 14, 1991, drawing a record breaking viewing audience. However, the extended dance sequence of the film draws controversy due to several scenes of Jackson rubbing and grabbing his crotch as well as destroying a car and breaking windows. The singer issues a statement the next day apologizing, stating that “the violent and suggestive behavior was an interpretation of the black panther’s animal instincts”. The controversy does not hurt the songs’ airplay or sales. It becomes the fastest rising single on the Hot 100 since The Beatles “Get Back” in 1969. Entering the Hot 100 at #35 on November 23, 1991, it pole vaults to the top of the chart two weeks later. Jackson also becomes the first artist in history to have number one singles in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. On the UK singles chart, it is the first single to enter the chart at number one since Elvis Presley’s “It’s Now Or Never” in 1960. “Black Or White” also tops the charts in seventeen other countries, and is ranked the top single of 1991 by Billboard Magazine. “Black Or White” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 7, 1991 – “Achtung Baby”, the seventh studio album by U2 hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 1 week. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, it is recorded at Hansa Ton Studios in Berlin, Germany, STS Studios, Elsinore Studios and Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland from October 1990 – September 1991. the band re-invent their sound, experimenting with industrial, electronic dance rhythms and alternative rock. The result win the veteran Irish band a new generation of fans and regains critical favor lost on their previous album “Rattle And Hum”. It spins off five singles including “Mysterious Ways” (#9 Pop) and “One” (#10 Pop). “Baby” becomes U2’s second largest selling album after “The Joshua Tree” with worldwide sales of over eighteen million copies. It wins a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 1993, with producers Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno winning the Producer Of The Year Grammy (Non-Classical) (tied with L.A. Reid & Babyface) for their work on the album. “Achtung Baby” is reissued for its twentieth anniversary in 2011 in various editions including a mammoth ten disc box set containing six CD’s, four DVD’s, five 7" vinyl singles and other memorabilia connected with the album.  "Achtung Baby" is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 6, 1994 – “Vitalogy”, the third album by Pearl Jam is released. Produced by Brendan O’Brien and Pearl Jam, it is recorded at Bad Animals Studios in Seattle, WA, Southern Tracks Recording, Doppler Studios in Atlanta, GA and Kingsway Studios in New Orleans, LA from November 1993 – October 1994. The band begin writing songs their next album, during the tour for their previous release “Vs.”. Still coming to terms with their huge success, the members of Pearl Jam are fraught with tension. Exhausted from nearly three years of non stop activity, they are also frustrated by the corporate appropriation of the grunge music movement they’ve helped to lead. In response, they make a hard shift away from the sound of their first two multi-platinum selling albums. Lead singer Eddie Vedder takes on a much more assertive role, as well as playing guitar. Vedder also clashes with drummer Dave Abbruzzese, feeling he’s gone too far in embracing the “rock star lifestyle”. The singer speaks to him only minimally. Meanwhile, guitarist Mike McCready struggles with drug and alcohol abuse, eventually entering rehab to address his problems. The original working title for the album is “Life” which is changed to “Vitalogy” (meaning “the study of life”), which is the name of an early twentieth century medical book, of which lead singer Eddie Vedder owns a copy. Text and illustrations from the book are included in the booklet that comes packaged with the album. In an unconventional move, “Vitalogy” is released on vinyl two weeks ahead of the CD and cassette configurations, selling enough copies (35,000 units) for it to actually enter the chart at #55. It drops to #173 in its second week, but leaps to the top of the chart on December 24, 1994, two weeks after the CD and cassette versions are released, selling 877,000 copies that week. It spins off three singles including “Spin The Black Circle” (#18 Pop) and “Better Man” (#13 Pop). Pearl Jam wins the Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance for “Spin” in 1996. Like the album itself, all three singles are pressed as vinyl 45’s with accompanying picture sleeves. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 2011 with three additional bonus tracks, with an exclusive limited edition sold through retailer Best Buy, including a T-shirt. The same year, the vinyl LP is reissued, pressing it as a 180 gram two LP set for better sound quality over the original 1994 release, which was issued as a single LP. The single “Immortality” b/w “Rearviewmirror” is reissued as limited edition 7" replicating the original label and picture sleeve artwork, is released on Record Store Day in 2011 to promote the reissues of the album. “Vitalogy” spends one week at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 4, 1990 – “The Simpsons Sing The Blues”, the debut album by The Simpsons is released. Produced by John Boylan, Jeff “DJ Jazzy Jeff” Townes and Bryan Loren, it is recorded at Lion Share Recording Studios, Record One Studios in Los Angeles, CA, The Warehouse in Philadelphia, PA, Right Track Recording Studios in New York City and Metropolis Audio in Melbourne, Victoria Australia in September 1990. An immediate success since its network television debut on the Fox Network on December 17, 1989, “The Simpsons” make the leap from the small screen to the record store. Record label executive David Geffen approaches the series creators, with the idea of making an album based on The Simpsons, in time for release in time for the 1990 Christmas holiday season. Series creator Matt Groening and producers James L. Brooks, Al Jean and Sam Simon agree to do the record, but with work on the series on a very tight time line, it leaves little time to spare in producing the spin off album. Featuring the voices of actors Nancy Cartwright (Bart), Dan Castellaneta (Homer), Julie Kavner (Marge), Yeardley Smith (Lisa), Matt Groening (Maggie), Harry Shearer (Mr. Burns, Smithers), and Ron Taylor (“Bleeding Gums” Murphy). The ten song album is a mix of original songs co-written by the series writers, covers, and participation from some noted musicians. Among those making cameo appearances on the album include B.B. King, Dr. John, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Marcy Levy (aka Marcella Detroit of Shakespear’s Sister). Released just three weeks before Christmas, the album is an instant smash, and the first television related album since the “Miami Vice” soundtrack to reach the US top ten. The first single “Do The Bartman” is written and produced by Bryan Loren, and though is denied at the time, features background vocals by Michael Jackson. Though not released as a commercial single in the US, the song is launched with an animated music video, that debuts on December 6, 1990. As part of the promotion for the single at US radio, the promo CD single comes packaged with an animated flip book of Bart doing the Bartman dance. The record rockets to the top of the UK singles chart, also hitting #1 in Ireland, Norway, Australia and New Zealand. It spins off one more single with the DJ Jazzy Jeff produced “Deep Deep Trouble” (with “School Day” being issued in Spain and Argentina only). The huge success of The Simpsons album, inspires other albums based on animated TV shows, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Mario Bros, Dinosaurs, and Little Mermaid character Sebastian The Crab. The Simpsons album is later followed up with “Songs In The Key Of Springfield” and “The Yellow Album”, though both are much less successful the first release. “The Simpsons Sings The Blues” peaks at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 4, 1990 – “One For All”, the debut album by Brand Nubian is released. Produced by Brand Nubian, Dante Ross, Skeff Anselm, Dave “Jam” Hall and Stimulated Dummies, it is recorded at Calliope Studios in New York City from Mid 1989 – Late 1990. Formed in their hometown New Rochelle, NY in 1989, Brand Nubian consists of group members Maxwell “Grand Puba” Dixon, Derek “Sadat X (formerly Derek X)” Murphy, Lorenzo “Lord Jamar” Dechalus and K.A. “DJ Alamo” Jones. The group are signed to Elektra Records by label A&R man and producer Dante Ross (De La Soul). With group members aligned with the Five Percenters sect of the Nation Of Islam, some of their songs sport a militant pro-black stance and politically conscious lyrics which draws some controversy, leading MTV to ban the video for the single “Wake Up” (#5 Rap, #92 R&B) featuring a black man wearing white face make up. The album is also praised for its production, innovative use of samples, and the lyrical prowess and MC skills of Grand Puba, Lord Jamar and Sadat X. An immediate hit at street level, the album spins off a total of four singles including the anti drug anthem “Slow Down” (#3 Rap, #63 R&B), and “All For One” (#17 Rap). Regarded as a classic of hip hop’s golden era during the first half of the 90’s, the albums’ sales do not match the major praise and acclaim given to it, with heavy bootlegging taking a huge chunk out of actual sales. To date, “One For All” has not reached Gold status in the US, with current Soundscan sales just north of 400,000 units in spite of never going out of print. “One For All” peaks at number thirty four on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number one hundred thirty on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: December 3, 1994 – “On Bended Knee” by Boyz II Men hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 6 weeks (non-consecutive), also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written and produced by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, it is the third chart topping single for the Philadelphia, PA based R&B vocal quartet. The group meet the producers at the NBA All Star Game in Minneapolis when they approach Jam & Lewis about writing something for their new album. A couple of months later, they respond with “On Bended Knee”. Issued as the follow up to “I’ll Make Love To You” on November 1, 1994, it is another immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #14 on November 19, 1994, it poles vault to the top of the chart two weeks later. “Knee” is in a tussle for the top spot with Ini Kamoze’s “Here Comes The Hotstepper”, with Kamoze bumping the Boyz from the top spot after two weeks, “Hotstepper” holds at number one for two weeks. “On Bended Knee” regains the top spot, spending another four weeks at the top. Boyz II Men make history as the first group in over thirty years to replace themselves at the top of the Billboard pop singles chart. Having just ended a record breaking fourteen week run at number one with their previous single “I’ll Make Love To You”, “Knee” replaces it in the top spot. The Beatles had previously achieved this feat in March of 1964 when “She Loves You” replaces “I Want To Hold Your Hand” at number one. “On Bended Knee” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: December 3, 1990 – Madonna appears on the ABC News program “Nightline” and is interviewed by Forrest Sawyer. During the interview, ABC shows the controversial video for “Justify My Love” in its entirety. Though MTV has the banned clip from airplay, it does not stop the singles’ upward chart momentum. Instead, the video (directed by Jean Baptiste-Mondino) is issued as a single on VHS tape, selling over one million copies. “Justify My Love” hits number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on January 5, 1991, spending 2 weeks at the top.

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