On this day in music history: September 24, 1982 – “1999” by Prince is released. Written and produced by Prince, it is the eleventh single release for the singer, songwriter, musician and producer from Minneapolis, MN. Written about “a party at the end of world”, the lyrics touch on widespread fears of the escalation of “The Cold War”, and the impending threat of global thermal nuclear war between the United States and the then Soviet Union (Russia). The song’s message encourages listeners to enjoy the time we do have, best expressed in the lyric “life is just a party, and parties weren’t meant to last”. The somewhat dark undercurrent present in the lyrics are masked by the exuberant, funky track, with its point being missed by many who only viewed it as a party song. One of the last songs recorded for the album, the basic tracks are recorded at Prince’s home studio on Kiowa Trail (“The Purple House”) in Chanhassen, MN in late July/early August of 1982. The song features Prince sharing lead vocals with band members Lisa Coleman, Jill Jones, and Dez Dickerson. Initially, he had planned for everyone to sing the entire song in unison, but during mixing of the single he hits upon the idea of having them sing lines on their own then all together on the chorus. The songs music video is directed by Bruce Gowers (Queen, Michael Jackson), and is shot at the Minneapolis Armory (with the full stage set up) during rehearsals for the “Triple Threat Tour”. It is one of three promotional clips filmed that week along with “Automatic” and “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”. The single is backed with the non album B-side “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore”. Featuring Prince singing lead and background vocals to his own piano accompaniment, it is recorded at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA on April 26, 1982. “How Come” is included on the compilation “The Hits/B-sides” in 1993, and on the soundtrack to Spike Lee’s film “Girl 6” in 1996. “1999” peaks at #4 on the Billboard R&B singles chart in December of 1982 also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on December 4, 1982, and initially peaking at number #44 on the Hot 100. After the top ten chart success of “Little Red Corvette”, Warner Bros re-promotes “1999” at US top 40 pop radio in the late Spring of 1983. It re-enters the Hot 100, and peak at #12 on July 23, 1983. Prince re-records “1999” in late 1998, releasing it on his NPG Records imprint (as a seven track EP) after Warner Bros reissues the original version. The original re-charts again, peaking at #40 on the Hot 100 on January 16, 1999, with the remake peaking at #58 on the R&B album chart, and #150 on the Top 200 on February 20, 1999.
On this day in music history: September 24, 1977 – “Keep It Comin’ Love” by KC & The Sunshine Band hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on October 1, 1977. Written by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, it is the fourth R&B chart topper for the R&B Disco/Funk band from Hialeah, FL. With the back to back chart topping singles “Get Down Tonight” and “That’s The Way (I Like It)” under their belts, KC & The Sunshine band continue their hit streak into 1976 when they release their fourth studio album titled “Part 3”. The lead single “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” released ahead of the album in May quickly become the bands third number one pop and R&B hit. Two more singles “I Like To Do It” (#4 R&B, #37 Pop) and their fourth chart topper “I’m Your Boogie Man” (#1 Pop & R&B) follow. Employing a similar writing technique used on “That’s The Way (I Like It)”, KC and bassist Richard Finch use the title “keep it comin’ love” along with the refrain “don’t stop it now, don’t stop it no, don’t stop it now, don’t stop” as repetitive hooks to sear it in the listeners memory. The song is the final track on the album, directly segueing out of “I’m Your Boogie Man”. With many club DJ’s playing both cuts back to back, it is a natural for a future single release. After “Boogie Man” peaks, KC & The Sunshine Band’s label TK Records issues “Keep It Comin’ Love” nine months after the initial release of “Part 3” in July of 1977. It quickly follows its predecessor up the charts, becoming the bands fourth million selling single, with the album also crossing the million mark in sales. It stops short of the top on the Hot 100, holding at #2 for three weeks when it is unable to unseat either Meco’s “Star Wars/Cantina Band” and Debby’s Boone’s “You Light Up My Life”.
On this day in music history: September 20, 1975 – “Fame” by David Bowie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks (non-consecutive). also peaking at #21 on the R&B singles chart on October 18, 1975. Written by David Bowie, Carlos Alomar, and John Lennon, it is the first US chart topper for the British rock superstar born David Robert Jones. The song comes about after Bowie meets John Lennon in New York during the sessions for the “Young Americans” album. While most of the album is recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia with Tony Visconti producing, “Fame” is recorded at Electric Lady Studios in Greenwich Village with producer Harry Maslin, with the initial riff coming from Bowie’s guitarist Carlos Alomar. Lennon comes up with title (also playing guitar and singing background vocals), with Bowie writing the lyrics. Released in June of 1975 as the albums second single, it quickly finds favor on both pop and R&B radio stations. Entering the Hot 100 at #90 on June 28, 1975, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. After one week on top, the single is bumped from the number one spot on September 27, 1975, yielding to John Denver’s double A-sided hit “Calypso/I’m Sorry” for one week, “Fame” rebounds and regains the number one position for one more week on October 4, 1975. New remixes of the classic song titled “Fame 90” are remixed by engineer Jon Gass (Babyface), Arthur Baker, and D.J. Mark “The 45 King. The 45 King mix features rap verses by Queen Latifah. The remixes are released as a 12” single, and “The Gass Mix” is also included on the soundtrack of the film “Pretty Woman”, and the hits compilation “Changesbowie”. “Fame” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 19, 1989 – “Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814”, the fourth album by Janet Jackson is released. Produced by Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Janet Jackson, Jellybean Johnson and John McClain, it is recorded at Flyte Tyme Studios in Minneapolis, MN from September 1988 – May 1989. Issued as the follow up to the hugely successful “Control” album, it is a concept album with many of the songs touching on the subject of social injustice. Taking a greater role in the creative process this time out, half of the albums twelve songs are either co-written or written by Janet herself. The numbers “18” and “14” in the album’s title, signify the letters “R” and “N” as the eighteenth and fourteenth letters in the alphabet. The ambitious project is supported with both an accompanying long form music video, directed by frequent collaborator Domenic Sena. Released on home video, it wins a Grammy Award for Best Longform Video in 1990. The album is extremely well received by fans and critics, and becomes the only album in history to spin off seven top five singles, including four number one pop (“Miss You Much”, “Escapade”, “Black Cat”, “Love Will Never Do (Without You)”), and three number one R&B singles (“Miss You Much”, “Rhythm Nation”, “Escapade”). One additional track, “State Of The World” though not issued as a commercial single in the US (at the time of its original release in Australia and Japan only), is remixed and released to radio and as a double 12" set for club DJ’s. On the heels of the album’s success, Janet launches her first world tour in Pensacola, FL on February 27, 1990. The Rhythm Tour plays fifty seven dates in the US, Europe and Japan, running until November 16, 1990. “Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, three weeks (non-consecutive) on the R&B album chart, and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 19, 1983 – “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” by Michael Jackson is released. Written by Quincy Jones and James Ingram, it is the sixth single released from the “Thriller” album. The song initially begins as a demo by Jackson and keyboardist Greg Phillinganes after producer Quincy Jones suggests the title to Michael. The song takes its title from a brand of lingerie worn by Jones’ then wife Peggy Lipton Jones. When the initial demo is not considered suitable to fashion into a finished studio track, it is completely re-written by Quincy Jones and James Ingram except for the title. The track also features Michael’s sisters LaToya and Janet (along with Becky Lopez, Bunny Hull, Howard Hewett of Shalamar and James Ingram) on backing vocals.Though a sizable hit at the time of its release, the record is in direct competition with “Say, Say, Say” (released on October 3, 1983), Jackson’s second duet with Paul McCartney. With the two singles released so closely together, results in a lower chart placement for “P.Y.T.” than any of the previous singles from “Thriller” (with radio favoring the superstar duet over the other single), and is on and off the radio in a relatively short time span. During the 2000’s, it becomes a huge recurrent airplay favorite on R&B oldies radio, receiving more spins than it did as a new release. “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)” peaks at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #46 on the R&B singles chart. The original demo version of “P.Y.T.” surfaces on Jackson’s box set collection “The Ultimate Collection” in 2004.
On this day in music history: September 18, 1990 – “Tom’s Diner” by DNA Featuring Suzanne Vega is released. Written by Suzanne Vega, it is the tenth single release for the singer and songwriter from New York City. Written in the early 80’s while Vega is a college student, the narrative is formed while she is sitting at the diner counter while having a cup of coffee and people watching. In the lyrics, she makes reference to reading the paper and seeing a story about an “actor who died while he was drinking”, but is believed to be William Holden. Another inspiration comes from Vega’s friend, photographer Brian Rose, stating that his work was like he “saw his whole life through a pane of glass”, much like the way she was watching people through the front of the window. She records two versions of “Tom’s Diner” on her second album “Solitude Standing”. The first is an a cappella take at the beginning, with a reprise at the end of the album featuring piano and guitar. “Tom’s Diner” is released as the B-side of “Solitude Standing” in the US and as an A-side in Europe. It is only a minor hit overseas, peaking at #58 on the UK singles chart. A couple of years later, it resurfaces in a dramatically different context. In 1990, British dance music producers DNA (aka Nick Batt and Neal Slateford) remix “Tom’s Diner”, sampling the a cappella vocal off of Vega’s record, and creating their own track around her voice. The remix is pressed up as a bootleg 12" and soon begins receiving play in clubs in the UK. Very quickly there is a huge demand for the record, and they release it under the title “Oh Suzanne”, selling it under the counter at record stores. When the UK branch of A&M Records catches wind of the illegal remix, their first thought is to take legal action against DNA. However, when Suzanne Vega hears what the producers have done with her song, she has another idea. Vega encourages A&M to purchase the rights and release it legitimately. Issued as a single in Europe first in July, it is an instant smash, rocketing to #2 on the UK singles chart, hitting #1 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The buzz is so strong on the other side of the Atlantic, that A&M in the US releases the single in mid-September after it sells briskly as an import. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on October 13, 1990, it peaks at #5 on December 22, 1990, also peaking at #10 on the R&B singles chart, #7 on the Modern Rock chart and #13 on the Club Play chart. Shortly after the DNA and Suzanne Vega remix charts, rapper Nikki D. samples it for her hit “Daddy’s Little Girl” (#1 Rap, #31 R&B, #19 Club Play) in 1991. DNA also remix Vega’s “Rusted Pipe” in similar fashion, but with less successful results. A&M assembles and releases a compilation titled “Tom’s Album” with the aforementioned songs as well as cover versions of “Tom’s Diner by After One and Bingo Handjob (aka R.E.M. and Billy Bragg). "Tom’s Diner” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 18, 1976 – “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 3 weeks on September 4, 1976. Written by Robert Parrisi, it is the biggest hit for the funk/rock band from Steubenville, OH. The song is inspired when the band are playing a gig at the 2001 Club in Pittsburgh, PA when someone in the crowd shouts, “play some funky music, white boy” at the band. When Wild Cherry first record “Play That Funky Music”, it is not originally intended to be an A-side. Around the same time, they record a cover version of the Commodores hit “I Feel Sanctified”, thinking that it is the most likely to be a hit. The head of their label Sweet City Records disagrees, feeling that “Funky Music” is the stronger of the two.The label signs a distribution deal with Epic Records on the strength of that songs hit potential. Released as a single in March of 1976, the track first becomes a hit in US discos before crossing over to radio. By mid-Summer it is on its way to becoming a worldwide hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #96 on June 19, 1976, it climbs to the top of the chart thirteen weeks later. “Play That Funky Music” becomes only the third single in history to be officially certified platinum when it racks up sales of over 2.5 million copies in the US alone. The band also have the distinction of being one of only a small handful white artists to top the Billboard R&B singles chart during the last four decades (Daryl Hall & John Oates, George Michael, Lisa Stansfield, and Robin Thicke among them). The single also earns Wild Cherry two Grammy nominations including Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal and Best New Artist. In 1991, Rob Parrisi wins a lawsuit against rapper Vanilla Ice when he samples “Play That Funky Music” without permission. Parrisi is awarded $500,000 in the suit. “Play That Funky Music” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 17, 1988 – “Another Part Of Me” by Michael Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #11 on the Hot 100 on September 10, 1988. Written by Michael Jackson, it is the tenth solo (sixteenth overall at that time) R&B chart topper for the superstar artist. The song is one of two that Jackson writes and records for the 3-D Sci-Fi fantasy short film “Captain EO” in which he stars. Thematically, “Another Part Of Me” follows the messages of love, unity and inclusion of earlier Jackson penned songs like “We Are The World” and “Can You Feel It”. Michael collaborates on the film with producer George Lucas and director Francis Ford Coppola. The attraction runs at Disneyland from 1986 to 1996, before being fully reinstated in 2010 less than a year after Jackson’s death, running at various parks until 2015. The Disney attraction features an earlier mix of the song, with the “Bad” album including a remixed version of the track. “Another Part Of Me” is issued as the sixth single from “Bad” on July 11, 1988, nearly one year after the release of the album. The song is also featured in the 1998 action/comedy “Rush Hour” in a memorable scene with actor Chris Tucker.
On this day in music history: September 16, 1983 – “Let The Music Play” by Shannon is released. Written by Chris Barbosa and Ed Chisolm, is it the debut single and biggest for the R&B vocalist from Washington DC. Raised in Brooklyn, NY since childhood, by early 1983, twenty five year old Brenda Shannon Greene is a recent graduate of the American Academy Of Dramatic Arts in New York City, and is doing post graduate studies at York University. While still in college, Greene is a vocalist with the New York Jazz Ensemble. It is while she is with the group that Shannon meets producer Quentin Hicks. Impressed with her voice, Hicks sets up an audition for Shannon with Mark Liggett and Chris Barbosa, staff songwriters and producers at independent dance label Emergency Records. Liking what they hear, the producers play her a demo of a song written by Barbosa and Ed Chisolm originally called “Fire And Ice”, which she agrees to record. Liggett and Barbosa take her into the studio the same to day to record her vocals on the track. The lyrics are re-written and the song is re-titled “Let The Music Play”. Recorded at Greene Street Studios in New York City in July of 1983, musician Rob Kilgore (Man Parrish, Xēna (aka Lisa Fischer)) plays all of the instruments on the track including synthesizers and programming the Roland TR-808 drum machine. The 808 is MIDI’ed(Musical Instrument Digital Interface) with a Roland TB-303, a rudimentary thirteen key bass synthesizer that gives the song its distinctive and immediately identifiable sound. Emergency releases “Let The Music Play” as a 12" single in mid-September of 1983. The record creates an immediate sensation on the street and on dance floors in New York, and in other major cities around the world. “Let The Music Play” is picked up for wider distribution by Atlantic and re-released on their Mirage Records imprint. That same Fall, Shannon goes back in the studio with Liggett and Barbosa to record a full length album to capitalize on the success of the single. “Let The Music Play” marks a major sea change in the evolution of dance and club oriented music. The records’ acceptance by US Top 40 pop radio, is the first time that dance music receives widespread exposure, since being virtually blackballed from mainstream pop radio after the end of the Disco Era. “Music” goes on to sell more than eight million copies worldwide, also introducing the genre of “Freestyle” into the vernacular of club culture, with its distinctive syncopated Latin and Hip Hop influenced rhythms dominating dance music for the rest of the 1980’s. “Let The Music Play” spends six weeks at number one on the Billboard Club Play chart on October 29, 1983, peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart, #8 on the Hot 100 in February of 1984, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.