On this day in music history: June 20, 1987 – “Head To Toe” by Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 2 weeks on May 30, 1987, and topping the Club Play chart for 1 week on the same date. Written and produced by Full Force, it is the first chart topping single for the New York City based R&B/Freestyle group fronted by lead singer Lisa Lisa. Coming off of the success of their Gold (later certified Platinum) selling self-titled debut album, which spins off the hits “I Wonder If I Take You Home” (#34 Pop, #6 R&B, #1 Club Play), “Can’t You Feel The Beat” (#69 Pop, #40 R&B, #6 Club Play), and “All Cried Out” (#8 Pop, #3 R&B), Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam (Lisa Velez, Mike Hughes and Alex Moseley (aka “Spanador”)), once again work with the R&B band Full Force on their second album beginning in the Fall of 1986. The members of Full Force, consisting brothers Paul Anthony (Paul Anthony George), Bow-Legged Lou (Lucien George), B-Fine (Brian George), and cousins Shy Shy (Junior Clark), Curt-T-T (Curt Bedeau) and Baby Gerry (Gerry Charles), all of the members grow up listening to and playing 60’s and 70’s R&B music, Motown in particular. The band uses that musical influence when writing songs for the next Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam album. Incorporating “The Motown Sound” into the groups Freestyle and dance music sound, Full Force come up with the hooky and infectious “Head To Toe” for the group. Released as the first single from “Spanish Fly” in April of 1987, the single is an immediate across the board smash, taking hold in the clubs and on pop and R&B radio. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on April 11, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The success of “Head To Toe” and its equally catchy and retro flavored follow up “Lost In Emotion” solidifies Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam’s hit making status, sending their sophomore album well past the Platinum mark in the US. “Head To Toe” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 20, 1987 – “Diamonds” by Herb Alpert (Featuring Janet Jackson & Lisa Keith) hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #5 on the Hot 100 on the same date. Written and produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, it is the biggest R&B hit for the veteran trumpet player from Los Angeles, CA. Right on the heels of the production teams success with Janet Jackson’s “Control” album, producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis are asked to produce an album for the co-founder of A&M Records. Jam & Lewis come up with the track for “Diamonds” while they are working with The Human League on their album “Crash”. Setting the track aside when they feel it isn’t right for the UK synth pop band, the producers play the track for Janet Jackson while she’s in Minneapolis working with them on the remixed video version of “Control”. Excited by what she hears, Janet records her vocals during the session, also singing background vocals with Flyte Tyme artist/vocalist Lisa Keith. Jimmy and Terry then play the track for Alpert, who immediately loves it and overdubs his horn parts onto the song. Issued as second single from Alpert’s twenty eighth studio album “Keep Your Eye On Me”, “Diamonds” is Alpert’s second single to make the Top 10 on the R&B singles chart (after “Rise” (#4 R&B) in 1979) and his only number one single on that chart.
On this day in music history: June 20, 1981 – “Stars On 45 Medley” by Stars On 45 hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Robbie Van Leeuwen, Jeff Barry, Andy Kim, Jaap Eggermont, Martinus Dusier, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the biggest hit for the Dutch studio group formed by Jaap Eggermont. The idea for the medley comes about when music publisher Willem van Kooten discovers a bootleg 12" being sold “under the counter” at record stores in Holland featuring numerous pop classics including The Shocking Blue’s “Venus” which he controls the copyright to. Not wanting to lose out on royalties, he contacts former Golden Earring (“Radar Love”) drummer Jaap Eggermont about producing a similar medley using cover versions of numerous songs. Recording with Dutch musicians and vocalists, Eggermont records covers of several songs from the bootleg medley, and add several more Beatles songs to the mix. The finished track runs over fifteen and half minutes in its entirety. The US single lists all of the medleys titles (officially titled: “Medley: Intro Venus / Sugar Sugar / No Reply / I’ll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You’re Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45”) on the single label, and makes history as the longest song title ever to ever appear the Billboard pop singles chart. Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on April 11, 1981, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The medley is a huge worldwide hit, and in the US it temporarily interrupts Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” nine week run at number one on the Hot 100. The accompanying album “Stars On Long Play” also becomes a best seller, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Top 200 in July of 1981. The huge worldwide success of the first Stars On 45 single inspires a number of follow up records over the next two years, featuring the music of Stevie Wonder, The Carpenters, ABBA, and even a medley released by Capitol Records in the US editing the original versions of Beatles classics together. “Stars On 45 Medley” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 20, 1974 – “Do It Baby” by The Miracles is released. Written by Freddie Perren and Christine Yarian, it is the fifty second single release for the R&B vocal quartet from Detroit, MI. After nearly eighteen years and more than three dozen chart singles, Miracles lead singer and co-founder Smokey Robinson finally leaves the group to begin a solo career in 1972. Saying farewell to their fans with a six month long tour, Robinson introduces his replacement Billy Griffin. A native of Baltimore, MD, Griffin’s own distinctive falsetto voice proves to be a worthy successor to Smokey’s velvety tenor. The first product of the newly revamped Miracles is the album “Renaissance” released April of 1973. Though the album receives critical acclaim, its lone single “Don’t Let It End (‘Til You Let It Begin)” (#26 R&B, #56 Pop) is only a moderate hit, after Motown cancels the release of its original choice “What Is A Heart Good For”. Returning to the drawing board, the group return to the studio to begin work on their next album in the Fall of 1973. The first product of the sessions is the Leon Ware penned “Give Me Just Another Day” (#47 R&B) is released first in November of 1973. With the song missing the top 40 on the R&B chart and not charting on the Hot 100 at all, the group keep working on new material. Among the producers The Miracles work with include Freddie Perren, who as ¼ of the songwriting and production team The Corporation, help turn The Jackson 5 into worldwide superstars. Now working on his own as a producer, Perren’s new songwriting partner is his wife Christine Yarian. Together, the pair write three songs for The Miracles’ album, including “Do It Baby”. Different from anything the veteran R&B vocal group has done previously, the sexy and funky down tempo groove of “Baby” fits in perfectly with the burgeoning Disco movement. Issued as a single just as the Summer begins, the song is an immediate hit, quickly spinning off of club dance floors on to the radio. “Do It Baby” enters the Billboard R&B singles chart at #99 on July 13, 1974 and #75 on the Hot 100 on August 24, 1974. Peaking at #4 R&B chart on September 28, 1974 and #13 on the Hot 100 on October 26, 1974, “Baby” gives The Miracles their highest charting single and first million seller since “The Tears Of A Clown” nearly four years before. The song revitalizes the group, and spins off the similar sounding follow up “Don’t Cha Just Love It” (#4 R&B, #78 Pop) in late 1974. Years later, “Do It Baby” is sampled by numerous rappers including 50 Cent, Spice 1, Chubb Rock, and Jermaine Dupri (Featuring Ludacris). Originally just over three minutes long, The Miracles song is remixed and extended by veteran remixer Tom Moulton, appearing as a bonus track on a CD reissue of the albums “Renaissance” and “Do It Baby” in 2012.
On this day in music history: June 18, 1988 – “Together Forever” by Rick Astley hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Club Play chart for 1 week on May 28, 1988. Written and produced by Stock, Aitken & Waterman, it is the second US chart topper for the singer from Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire, UK. Following the UK release and subsequent chart topping success of Rick Astley’s debut single “Never Gonna Give You Up”, the production and songwriting team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, conceive the idea of writing another song in a similar vein to “Give You Up”. Using much of the same song structure and chord changes as its predecessor, “Together Forever” comes together quickly. The track is recorded at Stock Aitken & Waterman’s PWL Studios in London in the Summer of 1987, with Astley recording his vocals shortly after. In the UK, it is released as the third single from “Whenever You Need Somebody” in February of 1988. However, Rick narrowly missed the top of the UK singles chart, stopping at #2. Ironically, he is denied a second trip to the top by singer and actress Kylie Minogue’s debut single “I Should Be So Lucky”, which is also written and produced by SAW. In the US, the timing proves to be just right, with “Together Forever” being issued as the follow up to “Never Gonna Give You Up” in early April of 1988. Entering the Hot 100 at #62 on April 16, 1988, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. Also a smash on club dance floors, “Forever” also reaches the top of the US club play chart. The single helps drive the “Whenever You Need Somebody” album past the 2x Platinum mark in the US.
On this day in music history: June 17, 1978 – “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks, also peaking at #11 on the R&B singles chart on July 15, 1978. Written by Barry, Robin, Maurice and Andy Gibb, it is the third consecutive chart topper for the singer and songwriter from The Isle Of Man, UK. While his debut single “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” and the accompanying album “Flowing Rivers” are steadily climbing the charts in the US and abroad, singer Andy Gibb, with the assistance of his older brothers the Bee Gees begin work on his second album. All four brothers collaborate on “Shadow Dancing” while the Bee Gees are filming “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in L.A. in mid 1977. Recording begins at Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles, CA, with overdubs and final mixing completed at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL. Released as a single in April 1978, it becomes another smash for the youngest Gibb brother. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on April 15, 1978, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. At only twenty years old, Andy Gibb becomes the first solo artist in history to have his first three singles reach number one in the US, achieving this feat in just eleven months. The song is ranked the top single of 1978 by Billboard Magazine. "Shadow Dancing” is later used on the long running animated series “South Park”, in the episode “Tom’s Rhinoplasty” originally airing on February 11, 1998. The song humorously underscores a scene where the boys teacher Mr. Garrison is strutting down the street after having cosmetic surgery, that makes him look like actor David Hasselhoff. “Shadow Dancing” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 16, 1979 – “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 2 weeks on June 30, 1979. Written and produced by Frederick Knight, it is the biggest hit for the former school teacher turned singer from Memphis, TN. The song is originally written and intended for then thirteen year old singer Stacy Lattisaw. When Lattisaw does not end up signing with Knight’s production company (signing with Atlantic Records instead), Knight re-writes the lyrics, originally about kids talking on the telephone, to something more suited for an adult singer. Anita Ward, a twenty two year old former school teacher from Memphis, TN discovered by Knight is given the song for her debut album. The track is cut at Malaco Studios in Jackson, MS and released on Knight’s Juana Records (distributed by Miami, FL based TK Records) in April of 1979. “Bell” is remixed by famed New York club DJ Richie Rivera, who helps turn it into a massive worldwide hit. “Ring My Bell” sells over 2.5 million copies in the US alone. “Bell” is later sampled and interpolated by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince on their hit of the same name in 1991.
On this day in music history: June 14, 1986 – “Nasty” by Janet Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on July 19, 1986. Written by James Harris III, Terry Lewis and Janet Jackson, it is the second R&B chart topper for the youngest member of the Jackson musical family. The song is inspired by an incident that takes place while Janet is hanging out with the producers, and childhood friend Melanie Andrews in Minneapolis. Jackson is accosted by two aggressive men stalking her on the street, and are being verbally abusive. Rather than running to someone for assistance, Jackson stands her ground, making them back off. The track and vocals for “Nasty” are recorded at Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’ Flyte Tyme Studios in September 1985. The songs distinctive rhythm is generated by using a factory preset sound on an Ensoniq Mirage digital sampler/synthesizer. Issued as the second single from “Control” on April 15, 1986, it is the follow up to her first chart topper “What Have You Done For Me Lately?”. The song is supported by a highly memorable video shot on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, in front of the same liquor store that U2 films their “rooftop concert” video for “Where The Streets Have No Name” a year later. The clip for “Nasty” is directed by Mary Lambert (Madonna, Prince, Chris Isaak, Annie Lennox), and is choreographed by Paula Abdul who also makes a cameo appearance. “Nasty” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 13, 1988 – “Forever Your Girl”, the debut album by Paula Abdul is released. Produced by Oliver Leiber, Glen Ballard, Elliot Wolff, L.A. Reid & Babyface, Jesse Johnson and Curtis Williams, it is recorded at Creation Audio in Minneapolis, MN, Studio Masters, Silverlake Studios, Keith “K.C.” Cohen Studios, JHL Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Studio 55 and Kren Studio in Hollywood, CA, House Of Music Studios in West Orange, NJ, and Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA from Late 1987 – Early 1988. The former L.A. Lakers cheerleader and choreographer begins recording her debut album for Virgin Records at night while working on dance sequences for the Eddie Murphy comedy “Coming To America” during the day. After it is released, the album initially gets off to a slow start, but quickly picks up momentum when the third single “Straight Up” (#1 Pop) breaks on top 40 pop radio. It spins off a total of six hit singles, five of them reaching the top five, with four of them hitting number one on the Hot 100 including “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me” (#3 Pop, #10 R&B), “Cold Hearted” (#1 Pop), “Opposites Attract” (#1 Pop), and the title track (#1 Pop). “Girl” sets a Billboard chart record for the slowest climb for an album to number one, finally reaching the top in its sixty fourth week on the Top 200. That lengthy climb breaks the previous record set by Fleetwood Mac’s self-titled 1975 album, which ascends to the top of the pop album chart in its fifty eighth week. “Forever Your Girl” also wins Abdul a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Video for the single “Opposites Attract” in 1990. The albums’ tremendous popularity is such, that it spins off a remix album titled "Shut Up And Dance” in 1990, featuring dance remixes of all of the singles from “Girl”. It too also reaches the top ten on the Top 200 and turns Platinum. “Forever Your Girl” spends ten weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 7x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 11, 1977 – “I’m Your Boogie Man” by KC & The Sunshine Band hits # 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on June 4, 1977. Written and produced by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, it is the fourth chart topping single for the R&B/Disco band from Hialeah, FL led by keyboardist and lead singer Harry Wayne “KC” Casey. Casey and Finch write the song as a tribute to a Miami radio DJ named Robert W. Walker who was instrumental in helping break the bands first chart topping single “Get Down Tonight”. On the LP, “Boogie” is paired together with “Keep It Comin’ Love” (#2 Pop, #1 R&B), with the two songs edited so that they segue into each and play as one long continuous song. “I’m Your Boogie Man” is issued as the second single from the bands fourth studio album “Part 3”. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on February 26, 1977, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. “I’m Your Boogie Man” is also covered by White Zombie in 1996 for the soundtrack to “The Crow – City Of Angels”. The original version is featured in the film “Scary Movie” and its sequels, the comedy “Superbad”, as well as the 2011 action adventure film “Watchmen”.