On this day in music history: April 27, 1970 – “Spill The Wine” by Eric Burdon & War is released. Written by Charles Miller, Howard E. Scott, B.B. Dickerson, Lonnie Jordan, Harold Brown, Thomas “Papa Dee” Allen and Lee Oskar, it is the debut single release for the R&B/Funk band from Long Beach, CA. In 1962, friends Howard Scott (guitar, vocals) and Harold Brown (drums, vocals) form The Creators, with Charles Miller (saxophone, vocals), Morris “B.B.” Dickerson (bass, vocals) and Leroy “Lonnie” Jordan (keyboards, vocals). Backing singer Little Johnny Hamilton, the band record for Dore Records. By 1968, their line up also includes Thomas “Papa Dee” Allen (percussion, vocals). Changing their name to Nite Shift in 1969, they’re hired to back L.A. Rams Defensive End Deacon Jones, who is pursuing a singing career. Playing at a club in North Hollywood, Nite Shift are seen by former Animals lead singer Eric Burdon, producer Jerry Goldstein (The Strangeloves) and Danish harmonica player Lee Oskar. Looking for new musicians, Burdon and Goldstein approach the band about working together. Adding Oskar to the line up, they change their name to War. Steve Gold, an executive from MGM Records is interested in recording them. With Burdon living in San Francisco, Gold books them into Wally Heider Studios (now Hyde Street Studios) in January of 1970. During one session, Lonnie Jordan comes into the control room, where the others are sharing a bottle of wine. He knocks over the bottle, spilling it right into the mixing desk. With that studio out of commission, they go into the other studio and jam. Improvising a Latin groove on the spot, Eric comes up with the phrase “Spill The Wine”, to acknowledge the incident, and writing the lyrics to “celebrate women”. Laying it down on tape, they go back and lay down passages of Burdon’s then girlfriend, talking in Spanish. Recording the rest of their first album “Eric Burdon Declares War” in just three days, MGM releases “Spill The Wine” as a single. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #99 on May 23, 1970, it peaks at #3 thirteen weeks later on August 22, 1970. After recording a second album (“The Black-Man’s Burdon”) later in 1970, Burdon leaves and they continue without him. Regarded as one of the great “Summer songs” of all time, “Spill The Wine” establishes War as a innovative musical force, throughout the 70’s and into the early 80’s. “Wine” is covered by The Isley Brothers, A Lighter Shade Of Brown and Michael Hutchence. The original version is featured in the films Boogie Nights, Remember The Titans, and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. “Magic Mountain”, the non-LP B-side of Burdon & War’s hit, is sampled twice by De La Soul on “Potholes In My Lawn” and “Pass The Plugs”. UK trip hop band Portishead also samples it on the track “Wandering Star”. “Spill The Wine” is certified Gold in the US the RIAA.
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