Category: adult contemporary

On this day in music history: September 6, 197…

On this day in music history: September 6, 1975 – “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Country chart for 3 weeks (non-consecutive) on August 23, 1975. Written by Larry Weiss, it is the first pop chart topper for the veteran studio musician turned country/pop superstar. A well established songwriter since the early 60’s Larry Weiss has co-written several major hits for other artists, including The American Breed’s “Bend Me, Shape Me” (#5 Pop) and R&B singer Jerry Butler’s “Mr. Dream Merchant (#23 R&B, #38 Pop), before becoming a recording artist in his own right. Weiss is signed to 20th Century Records in 1974, recording his debut album "Black & Blue Suite”. The song “Rhinestone Cowboy” is released as a single, but does not attract any significant attention, except from Adult Contemporary radio, where the song peaks at #24 on that chart.  Glen Campbell hears Weiss’ original version while on a tour of Australia in late 1974. Liking what he hears, Campbell records it shortly after in Los Angeles with producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter (The Four Tops, The Righteous Brothers). Entering the Hot 100 at #81, climbing to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. On the country singles chart, “Rhinestone” spends two consecutive weeks at the top before being displaced by “Feelins” by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn for one week. Surprisingly it rebounds and returns to the top for one more week on September 13, 1975. “Rhinestone Cowboy” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: September 4, 197…

On this day in music history: September 4, 1974 – “When Will I See You Again” by The Three Degrees is released. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, it is the twenty eighth single release, and biggest hit for the R&B vocal trio from Philadelphia, PA. Originally formed in 1963, the first line up of The Three Degrees consists of Fayette Pinkney, Shirley Porter and Linda Turner. With Pinkney remaining the mainstay of the group, a number of personnel changes occur before additions of Valerie Holiday and Sheila Ferguson by 1967. The group record for several different labels including Swan, Warner Bros, Metromedia and Roulette. The Three Degrees first connect with songwriter and producers Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff in 1970 when they record the single “What I See” on the duos label Neptune Records. The record fails to chart, and the girls return to Roulette later that year, scoring their first major hit with a cover of The Chantels’ classic “Maybe” (#4 R&B, #29 Pop). During this period, they make a brief appearance appearance in the film “The French Connection”, and continue to record with Roulette through 1972. Now running their label Philadelphia International Records through CBS, Gamble and Huff sign The Three Degrees in 1973. The groups first single for the label “Dirty ‘Ol Man” (#58 R&B), though only a minor hit, becomes a favorite in clubs as the Disco movement begins in major cities around the US and internationally. Among the songs Gamble & Huff write for The Three Degrees first album is “When Will I See You Again”. After Kenny Gamble plays the song for the group, lead singer Sheila Ferguson immediately voices her disapproval of it, calling it “simple” and that it took “no talent to sing it”. The producers insist they do it anyway, the group record it, feeling that it’s just an album track, and was unlikely to do anything. At first, they seem to be correct as the follow up “Year Of Decision” (#74 R&B) also fails to make any major waves. The Three Degrees luck changes in a major way in the Spring of 1974 when “TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)” by PIR house band MFSB and featuring them on background vocals, becomes an across the board smash, topping the R&B, Pop and AC charts and winning a Grammy Award. It is followed by the club classic “Love Is The Message” (#42 R&B, #85 Pop) in June of 1974. Now a year after their self-titled debut album, “When Will Will I See You Again” is released as a single, in the UK first, racing to number one on August 17, 1974. It is issued in the US three weeks later, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 14, 1974, topping the AC chart on the same date, and peaking at #4 on the R&B chart on December 28, 1974. The song is later featured in the film “Kill Bill: Volume 2” in 2004. “When Will I See You Again” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 30, 1986 …

On this day in music history: August 30, 1986 – “Love Zone” by Billy Ocean hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #10 on the Hot 100 on September 27, 1986. Written by Wayne Braithwaite, Barry J. Eastmond and Billy Ocean, it is the third R&B chart topper for the Trinidad born/British raised singer and songwriter (birth name Leslie Sebastian Charles). The track is written in the studio when Ocean is working with producer Barry J. Eastmond (Freddie Jackson) on the follow up to his breakthrough album “Suddenly”. Eastmond comes up the drum pattern and asks bassist Wayne Braithwaite (also co-writer of Billy Ocean’s “When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going” ) to play whatever he feels over it, coming up with the songs signature groove. Ocean, liking what he hears writes the lyrics and melody to complete the song. Issued as the follow up to the chart topping first single “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” in July of 1986, “Love Zone” follows that single into the top ten on both the pop and R&B singles chart.

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On this day in music history: August 30, 1980 …

On this day in music history: August 30, 1980 – “Sailing” by Christopher Cross hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart on July 26, 1980. Written by Christopher Cross, it is the first chart topping single for the singer, songwriter, and musician from San Antonio, TX born Christopher Geppert. Issued as the second single from his multi-platinum selling debut album, the song was originally not in the running to be a single. Warner Bros originally intends “I Really Don’t Know Anymore” to be the follow up to “Ride The Like Wind” (#2 Pop), which also features Doobie Brothers lead vocalist Michael McDonald on background vocals. With a new Doobie Brothers album and single (“One Step Closer” and “Real Love” respectively) just released, McDonald’s management nix the idea, feeling that McDonald’s vocal presence is over saturated on radio. The ballad “Sailing” is chosen instead, and takes off quickly at both pop and AC radio after its release in May of 1980. Entering the Hot 100 at #77 on June 14, 1980, it reaches the top of the chart eleven weeks later. A staple of Adult Contemporary radio, surprisingly the single climbs no higher than #10 on that chart. “Sailing” wins Cross three of the five Grammy Awards he wins in 1981 for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals. The song’s gentle soft-rock sound becomes one of the cornerstones, of the sub-genre known as “yacht rock”.

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On this day in music history: August 28, 1978 …

On this day in music history: August 28, 1978 – “I Just Wanna Stop” by Gino Vannelli is released. Written by Ross Vannelli, it is the thirteenth single and biggest hit for the Canadian born singer, songwriter and musician. Vannelli is one of three brothers born into a musical family in Montreal. By his teens, Gino is writing songs and performing which lead to him signing with RCA Records in 1970 just after graduating from high school. Released under the stage name “Vann-Elli”, his debut single “Gina Bold” (#92 Can) scrapes the bottom of the Canadian singles chart, he puts his music career plans on hold to attend college and study music. Leaving Canada for New York City, Vannelli is unable to find steady work there or attract any record label attention, so he and his brother Joe go to Los Angeles in a last ditch attempt to land a record deal. The pair go to A&M Records in Hollywood and stand out in front of the gate, hoping to audition for the label. As luck would have it, they’re able to attract label co-founder Herb Alpert’s attention who invite them on to the lot to audition for him. Alpert likes what he hears immediately and signs Gino to a contract with A&M. His first album “Crazy Life” released in 1973 fails to generate any hits, but the follow up “Powerful People” in 1974 spins off his first chart single “People Gotta Move” (#22 Pop). The song also leads to Gino making his first US television appearance on Soul Train in early 1975, making him only the second white musician to appear on the show. Releasing three more albums over the next few years, Vannelli experiences his biggest success with his sixth album “Brother To Brother” in 1978. Produced by Gino and his brothers Joe and Ross, all of the songs are also written by Gino and Ross. The mid tempo blue eyed soul song “I Just Wanna Stop” is written by Ross Vannelli. Recorded at Davlen Sound Studios in Hollywood in mid 1978, the track features future Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip, Carlos Rios (guitar), Mark Craney (drums), Joe Vannelli (electric piano, synthesizers), Manolo Badrena of Weather Report (percussion), Ernie Watts (saxophone), Julia Tillman Waters, Maxine Willard Waters, Ross Vannelli and Stephanie Spruill (background vocals). Issued as the first single from “Brother To Brother”, “I Just Wanna Stop” quickly becomes a multi-format smash hitting #1 in Vannelli’s native Canada, and peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 9, 1978, #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #21 on the R&B singles chart. The success of “Stop” propels the accompanying album into the top twenty on the Top 200, and to Platinum status in the US and Canada.

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On this day in music history: August 26, 1995 …

On this day in music history: August 26, 1995 – “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 12 weeks on the same date. Written by Seal , it is the biggest hit for the British born Nigerian/Afro-Brazilian singer, songwriter and musician. Originally written for his second self-titled album released in 1994, “Kiss From A Rose” is almost left off of the album when Seal and his producer Trevor Horn feel initially that it sounds “too different” from the other songs on the album, planning to drop it from the final track sequence. A friend of Seal’s hears the song and insist that he include it. When a Warner Bros A&R exec hears “Kiss”, he plays it for Gary LeMel, the president of music for Warner Bros movie division. LeMel plays the song for Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher who loves the song and asks to use it in the film. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on June 24, 1995, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The song drives both Seal’s second self titled album and the “Batman Forever” soundtrack to multi-platinum status, as well as winning three Grammy Awards including Record and Song Of The Year for 1995. “Kiss From A Rose” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 23, 1975 …

On this day in music history: August 23, 1975 – “Fallin’ In Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Dan and Ann Hamilton, it is the biggest hit for the soft rock band from Los Angeles, CA. Band members Dan Hamilton (vocals, guitar), Joe Frank Carollo (vocals, bass) and Tommy Reynolds (vocals, keyboards, percussion, guitar) have all previously been members of the instrumental studio band The T-Bones who score a big hit with the instrumental “No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In) (#3 Pop) in February of 1966. The T-Bones disband in 1967. The band reform 1970 under the name Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds signing with Dunhill Records. They score another top five hit with “Don’t Pull Your Love” (#4 Pop) in July of 1971. Original member Tommy Reynolds leaves the band in 1972 and was replaced by keyboardist Alan Dennison, though they keep the “Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds” name. In late 1974 they sign with Playboy Records, a new label formed by Playboy Magazine publisher Hugh Hefner. For their first release, they choose the lush ballad “Fallin’ In Love” written by Hamilton and his wife Ann. Released as a single in late April of 1975, it is initially slow taking off, but once it takes hold it makes a quick ascent. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on June 21, 1975, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The band scores one more top 40 hit with the follow up “Winners And Losers (#21 Pop), before they break up in 1976. Years later, "Fallin’ In Love” is the subject of a lawsuit when Playboy Enterprises sues R&B singer/rapper Drake, his label Cash Money Records and distributor Universal Music Group when he samples “Fallin’ In Love” on his hit single “Best I Ever Had” without acquiring the proper copyright clearance. “Fallin’ In Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 22, 1970 …

On this day in music history: August 22, 1970 – “Make It With You” by Bread hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the Easy Listening chart on the same date. Written and produced by David Gates, it is the biggest hit for the Los Angeles, CA based soft rock band. Bread form after Gates’ friend and fellow Oklahoma native Leon Russell introduces him to James Griffin and Robb Royer who are recording as a duo called Pleasure Faire. Russell recommends Gates as the producer for their debut album. When that project fails, the three join forces along with drummer Mike Botts, making the band a quartet. “Make It With You” is the first release from the bands’ second album “On The Waters”, and swiftly establishes the band as mainstays of the emerging soft rock singer/songwriter movement of the 70’s. Entering the Hot 100 at #96 on June 13, 1970, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. Considered one of the quintessential soft rock songs, “Make It With You” is covered by a number of artists across various musical genres, including versions by Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, The Whispers, Andy Williams, Lou Donaldson, and Teddy Pendergrass. “Make It With You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 21, 1967 …

On this day in music history: August 21, 1967 – “Never My Love” by The Association is released. Written by Donald & Richard Addrisi, it is the third top 10 hit for the Los Angeles, CA based pop/rock band. Written by The Addrisi Brothers in 1966 (later recorded by them in 1977), the song is recorded by the band providing only the vocals, backed by members of the studio collective The Wrecking Crew. The track arranged by Ray Pohlman and recorded in the Spring of 1967. “Never My Love” is issued as the follow up to their second chart topper “Windy”, and is included on The Association’s third album “Insight Out”. Featuring vocalists Terry Kirkman and Larry Ramos on dual lead vocals, “Never My Love” peaks at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 on October 7, 1967 (behind The Box Tops “The Letter”), becoming their third million selling single. By 1999, “Never My Love” becomes the second most played record on radio and television during the 20th century, only behind “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”. Since The Association’s hit version, “Love” has been covered more than a hundred times, with versions by Johnny Mathis, The Four Tops, The Lettermen, and Barry Manilow. The song returns to the Billboard top ten, when it is covered by Blue Swede. Issued as the follow up to their number one single “Hooked On A Feeling”, their version of “Never My Love” peaks at #7 in October of 1974. “Never My Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 20, 1991 …

On this day in music history: August 20, 1991 – “The Comfort Zone”, the second album by Vanessa Williams is released. Produced by Keith Thomas, Brian McKnight, Kenni Hairston, Derek Bramble, Gerry Brown, Bruce Carbone, Dave Darlington, DJ L.A. Jay, Ed Eckstine, Kipper Jones, Phase 5, Mark Stevens and Reggie Stewart, it is recorded at The Sound Factory, Hollywood Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA, Summa Studios in West Hollywood, CA, Westlake Audio, Creative Source, Ocean Way Recording in Los Angeles, CA, Nightingale Studio, Digital Recorders in Nashville, TN, The Bennett House in Franklin, TN, D&D Studios, Marathon Studios, Homebase Recording, Quad Recording Studios, Right Track Recording in New York City, Blöndal Studio and Teen Town Studios in Copenhagen, DK from Late 1990 – Mid 1991. Making a major splash with her 1988 debut album “The Right Stuff”, which spins off four hit singles, Vanessa Williams begins work on her sophomore release in 1990. The singer is paired with numerous songwriters and producers including former Heatwave member Derek Bramble, Polygram label mate Brian McKnight, Kipper Jones, Mark Stevens, and Keith Thomas among them. The first taste of the former Miss America’s second album comes in July of 1991 with “Running Back To You” (#1 R&B, #18 Pop, #2 Club Play). Penned by keyboardist Kenni Hairston (Cyndi Lauper, Nona Hendryx, Mtume) and former Orange Krush drummer Trevor Gale (RUN DMC, Whodini), the up tempo “Runnin’” grabs listeners’ attention right away. Punctuated with samples of hip hop crate staples like “The Grunt” (The J.B.’s), “Kool Is Back” (Funk, Inc.) and “I Can’t Stop” (John Davis & The Monster Orchestra), it becomes Williams’ second R&B chart topper and a solid top twenty pop hit. It is followed by the similar Hip Hop/pop influenced title track (#2 R&B, #62 Pop, #25 Club Play), which is well received by R&B radio but is met largely with indifference from top forty pop radio. It is the third single “Save The Best For Last” (#1 R&B, #1 Pop, #1 AC), that makes the biggest impact. Produced by Keith Thomas (Amy Grant, Ronnie Milsap, BeBe & CeCe Winans), “Save The Best” is a multi-format smash, giving Williams the biggest hit of her career. The single earns Grammy nominations for Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year in 1993. Vanessa also receives two more Grammy nominations for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female. “The Comfort Zone spins off a total of five singles including "Just For Tonight” (#11 R&B, #26 Pop, #2 AC) and a cover of The Isley Brothers’ “Work To Do” (#3 R&B, #52 Pop, #8 Club Play) (Featuring Dres From Black Sheep). It gives the multi-talented singer and actress the most successful album of her career, selling over four million copies worldwide. “The Comfort Zone” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number seventeen on the Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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