Category: adult contemporary

Born on this day: July 17, 1950 – Singer, song…

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 69th Birthday.

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On this day in music history: July 15, 1989 – …

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.

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Born on this day: July 15, 1946 – Singer Linda…

Born on this day: July 15, 1946 – Singer Linda Ronstadt (born Linda Maria Ronstadt in Tucson, AZ). Happy 73rd Birthday, Linda!!

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – “Holding Back The Years” by Simply Red hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #29 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Mick Hucknall and Neil Moss, it is the first US chart topper for the British pop/soul band from Manchester, UK. Lead singer Mick Hucknall initially begins writing what becomes “Holding Back The Years” when he is only seventeen years old, inspired by his mother leaving the family when he is three years old. Hucknall completes the song a few years later with band mate Neil Moss, while both are members of The Frantic Elevators. The band originally record “Holding Back The Years” in 1982, making only a minimal impact. After the Elevators break up, Hucknall forms Simply Red in 1985, re-recording the song for their debut album “Picture Book” with veteran producer Stewart Levine (The Crusaders, Hugh Masekela). When it is first released as the album’s third single in the UK, it stalls at #51 on the charts. Undaunted, WEA reissues it in the Spring of 1986 where it soars to #2. On the heels of its UK chart success, Elektra Records in the US releases it as a single. Entering the Hot 100 at #88 on April 5, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. The success of “Holding Back The Years” propels “Picture Book” to Platinum status in the US, also earning Simply Red two Grammy nominations including Best New Artist of 1986.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1965 – “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers is released. Written by Hy Zaret and Alex North, it is the eleventh single release for the pop/blue eyed soul vocal duo from Los Angeles, CA. Written in 1955 by lyricist Hy Zaret and film score composer Alex North (“A Streetcar Named Desire”, “The Rainmaker”, “Spartacus”) for the prison drama “Unchained”, the original version of “Unchained Melody” is sung by Todd Duncan in the film. It becomes an instant hit, through numerous cover versions cut after “Unchained” is released. Les Baxter, Al Hibbler and Roy Hamilton all score major hits with their renditions in 1955. Fast forward a decade later, The Righteous Brothers  are in the middle of a major hit streak, begun that February when “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” hits number one. While working the follow up album, Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield agree to record “Unchained Melody” for the new record. In spite of singing together as a duo, they mutually agree to record one solo vocal each per album. They flip a coin to decide who will sing it with Hatfield winning the coin toss. Using Roy Hamilton’s epic version as the template for theirs, the track is recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood, CA, with members of The Wrecking Crew on March 2, 1965. Though producer Phil Spector is co-credited on the released record, “Melody” is produced by Bill Medley alone. “Unchained Melody” is initially released as the B-side of “Hung On You”, written by Spector, Carole King and Gerry Goffin. DJ’s response to “Hung On You” is lukewarm and the song stalls at #47 on the Hot 100. Flipping the single, radio begins playing “Unchained Melody” instead and rockets up charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 July 17, 1965, it peaks at #4 on August 28, 1965. An instant classic, it becomes one The Righteous Brothers most popular songs. “Unchained Melody” becomes a surprise hit again, twenty five years after its original release when it is prominently featured in the box office smash “Ghost” in 1990. Verve Records re-releases the original version due to overwhelming popular demand, but only as a 7" vinyl single in the US, in an effort to encourage to fans to purchase a newly compiled Greatest Hits package released on CD. In the wake of the songs sudden resurgence in popularity, The Righteous Brothers release a newly re-recorded version of “Unchained Melody” on Curb Records. Filling the gap left by Verve not releasing a cassette or CD single of the original recording, the Curb version competes with the original, with the cover peaking at #19 on the Hot 100, turning Platinum and receiving a Grammy nomination in 1991. In spite of the original recording not being made widely available as a single, it still wins the chart race, peaking at #13 on the Hot 100 on October 20, 1990. The Righteous Brothers’ 1965 recording of “Unchained Melody” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2000.

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On this day in music history: July 11, 1987 – …

On this day in music history: July 11, 1987 – “Alone” by Heart hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, it is the second chart topping single for the rock band from Seattle, WA fronted by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson. Following the huge success of their self-titled eighth album which spins off five hit singles, Heart return to the studio with producer Ron Nevison to record the follow up. Again turning to outside songwriters to provide songs for the project, Nevison finds the power ballad “Alone” which is submitted to him by its writers Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg. Best known for writing the chart topping classics “Like A Virgin” (Madonna) and “True Colors” (Cyndi Lauper), “Alone” is first recorded by the duo under the name i-Ten. Embarrassed by their own rendition of the song, but still seeing its hit potential, they re-write part of it and record a new demo version to submit to Nevison. The producer agrees that it is a smash and gives it to Heart to record. Issued as the first single from their ninth album “Bad Animals” in May of 1987, it is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #53 on May 16, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The chart topping success of “Alone” propels  the “Bad Animals” album to 3x Platinum status in the US. The recording studio Steve Lawson Productions in Seattle, WA, a demo and voice over studio, is renamed Bad Animals Studio after the album. The name change occurs Wilson sisters form a partnership with owners Steve and Debbie Lawson, opening another recording and rehearsal facility called Studio X. Heart as well as other major artists including Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Neil Young and Johnny Cash all record at Bad Animals Studio over the years, before it is sold in 1999.

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On this day in music history: July 10, 1976 – …

On this day in music history: July 10, 1976 – “Afternoon Delight” by Starland Vocal Band hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Bill Danoff, it is the biggest hit for the Washington D.C. based pop vocal quartet. The group consists of two couples led by husband and wife Bill and Kathy “Taffy” Danoff, who had previously sung background vocals and co-wrote (as “Fat City”) John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads” in 1971. In early 1976, Starland Vocal Band are signed to Denver and producer Milt Okun’s newly established label Windsong Records (distributed by RCA). The song is inspired while Bill Danoff is eating at a restaurant called Clyde’s in Washington DC, when he sees a section of the menu called “afternoon delight”. Taking that for a title, Danoff goes home and write it later that day. The songs mildly provocative lyrics (with the title being a double entendre for mid afternoon sex), anchored by the groups immaculate four part harmonies, it becomes a solid hit in short order. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on May 8, 1976, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The single wins the group two Grammy Awards including Best New Artist of 1976. The success of “Afternoon Delight” leads to CBS giving the group their own mid-Summer variety series, “The Starland Vocal Band Show”. The series only runs six weeks before it’s canceled, but is noteworthy as it features a then unknown David Letterman as a series regular and writer on the show. “Afternoon Delight” is also featured in numerous films including “Good Will Hunting”, “Boogie Nights”, “Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy”, and on the TV series “Glee”. “Afternoon Delight” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 9, 1988 – &…

On this day in music history: July 9, 1988 – “Paradise” by Sade hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #16 on the Hot 100 on July 16, 1988. Written by Helen Folasade Adu, Stuart Matthewman, Andrew Hale and Paul Spencer Denman, it is the lone R&B chart topper for the Nigerian British R&B Smooth Jazz band fronted by lead singer and songwriter Sade Adu. The band actually begin writing “Paradise"while preparing to tour in support of their second album "Promise” in 1986. They work on the song sporadically over the next year, finally completing it during the sessions for “Stronger Than Pride”. The track is recorded at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas. Released as the first single from Sade’s third album in April of 1988, “Paradise” quickly becomes a fan favorite and a staple of the bands live performances. The 7" version features a remixed edit of the song. Also issued commercially as a 12" single, it features an extended version of “Paradise” considerably longer than the album version. The 12" also features the instrumental non LP B-side “Super Bien Total”, in extended form with the 7" version including a shorter edit.

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On this day in music history: July 5, 1986 – &…

On this day in music history: July 5, 1986 – “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” by Billy Ocean hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 2 weeks on June 28, 1986, and the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on June 21, 1986. Written by Wayne Braithwaite, Barry J. Eastmond and Billy Ocean, it is the second pop and R&B chart topper for the Trinidadian born singer and songwriter. Coming off of the hugely successful album “Suddenly”, Billy Ocean works with producer Barry J. Eastmond. Playing keyboards on Ocean’s previous album, Eastmond is fresh off of having produced R&B vocalist Freddie Jackson’s Platinum debut album “Rock Me Tonight”. Along with bass player Wayne Braithwaite, Ocean and Eastmond work on material for the follow up to the singers breakthrough album. The initial idea for what becomes “There’ll Be Sad Songs” comes from a story told to Eastmond by his wife about a friend of hers going though a break up with her longtime boyfriend. While at a party, the woman hears a song that reminds her of her ex that makes her cry. The song in question ironically turns out to be Billy Ocean’s hit “Suddenly” (#4 Pop, #5 R&B, #1 AC). While in the studio, the trio write eight of the new albums nine songs together, including “Sad Songs” and the title track “Love Zone”. Issued in tandem with the album in April of 1986, the ballad is an immediate across the board smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #61 on April 19, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. In addition to topping the pop singles chart, “There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry)” also tops the R&B and AC charts. The success of that single drives Billy Ocean’s “Love Zone” album to 2x Platinum status in the US.

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On this day in music history: July 2, 1966 – &…

On this day in music history: July 2, 1966 – “Strangers In The Night” by Frank Sinatra hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Bert Kaempfert, Charlie Singleton and Eddie Snyder, it is the fifth solo chart topper for the “Chairman Of The Board”. The song is originally composed as an instrumental for the film “A Man Could Get Killed” by German composer and arranger Bert Kaempfert. Sinatra’s producer Jimmy Bowen hears the instrumental through the song publisher, then tells them that if lyrics can be written for it, Sinatra would record it. The lyrics for the song are then written by Charlie Singleton and Eddie Snyder. Shortly after they’re written, both Bobby Darin and Jack Jones cut their own versions of the song. Wanting to beat both artists to the punch, Bowen quickly arranges a session with Sinatra. The singer records his vocals live with the orchestra in under an hour. Within 24 hours, Reprise Records has acetates of the single rush released to radio and is on the air across the country. “Strangers” is an immediate smash, entering the Hot 100 at #90 on May 7, 1966, it rises swiftly to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Strangers” temporarily unseats The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” from the top spot on the Hot 100, before they return to number one for one more week on July 9, 1966. The single wins three Grammy Awards including Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Record Of The Year in 1967. “Strangers In The Night” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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