Category: disco

On this day in music history: October 20, 1979 – “Rise” by Herb Alpert hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on September 22, 1979, and peaking at #4 on the R&B singles chart on October 27, 1979. Written by Andy Armer and Randy (Badazz) Alpert, it is the second number one single for the co-founder of A&M Records. Recorded in Studio D at A&M Records in Hollywood, the song is one of the first hit records to be recorded on digital recording equipment. The 3M Corporation lends the label, one of its first 32-track tape machines to experiment with. Alpert initially begins the sessions by attempting to record a disco remake of his first hit “The Lonely Bull”. When the musicians realize the new version isn’t working, Alpert’s nephew Randy gives his uncle a demo tape with some songs he as written with his friend Andy Armer. Herb loves the instrumental titled “Rise” and agree to record it. Originally written an uptempo dance track, it is recorded at a slower tempo for the finished recording. The track is recorded almost completely live in the studio in just a few takes. After its release in June of 1979, the single initially gets off to a slow start until it is prominently featured on the daytime soap opera “General Hospital”. The exposure the song receives on the show jump starts interest in it, spreading to radio. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on July 28, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart thirteen weeks later. The single wins Alpert a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1980, his first Grammy win since 1967. The song also becomes the basis of The Notorious B.I.G.’s posthumous chart topper “Hypnotize” in 1997. “Rise” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 16, 1976 – “Disco Duck Pt. 1” by Rick Dees & His Cast Of Idiots hits #1 on the Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #15 on the R&B singles chart on November 20, 1976. Written by Rick Dees, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the broadcasting legend born Rigdon Osmond Dees III. Born and raised in Memphis, TN, Rick Dees works days as a DJ at WMPS while spinning records at local night club called Chesterfield’s at night. With the Disco Era nearing its commercial peak in the mid 70’s, Dees is inspired to write a parody song. He’ll pitch the idea around town for a few months before attracting the interest of Stax Records co-founder Estelle Axton who is running a local record label called Fretone Records. Dees gets his friend Ken Pruitt to provide the signature “Donald Duck” vocals on the track. Released on Fretone in early 1976, the single begins getting major regional airplay throughout the south, but is not played by any Memphis radio stations, out of fear of promoting their competition. Rick Dees himself is prohibited by his own radio station from playing the record on the air. When he talks about it on the air one morning, the station manager abruptly fires him, on the grounds that it was a conflict of interest. After the firing, Dees is hired by rival station WHBQ-AM in Memphis. Shortly afterward, Dees goes to Los Angeles to shop the record around to major labels. Al Coury, the head of RSO Records buys the master from Fretone to release it nationally. Once the novelty hit takes hold on radio, it is a runaway smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on August 14, 1976, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “Disco Duck” is also featured in one scene in the film “Saturday Night Fever”, but is not included on the Grammy winning soundtrack album. His management unwisely decides not to grant permission to allow RSO to use it on the soundtrack. At the same time the record is a huge hit selling over six million copies worldwide (over two million in the US alone), a large groundswell of backlash against the song develops while it is on the charts. It is often been cited by critics as one of the “worst records of all time”. “Disco Duck Pt. 1” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 13, 1978 – “Cheryl Lynn”, the debut album by Cheryl Lynn is released. Produced by David Paich and Marty Paich, it is recorded at Studio 55, Sunset Sound in Hollywood, CA, Western Recorders in Los Angeles, CA and CBS Recording Studios in New York City from Late 1977 – Mid 1978. Born Lynda Cheryl Smith in Los Angeles, CA, Cheryl Lynn grows up singing in church. She gets her first major break in the national touring company of “The Wiz”. Eventually she is promoted to a starring role, portraying Evillene, The Wicked Witch Of The West. Also that year, Lynn appears on the amateur talent program “The Gong Show”. Singing “You Are So Beautiful”, Cheryl Lynn earns a perfect score and wins the top prize. Little does she realize that TV appearance will change her life. After the show airs, she begins receiving phone calls from record executives, including Ahmet Ertegun from Atlantic Records. When Ertegun is unable to meet with her, she instead meets with execs from Columbia Records. Lynn is quickly signed by veteran A&R man Bruce Lundvall, who pairs her with David Paich of the band Toto. Paich works on Cheryl’s debut with his famous father, arranger and bandleader Marty Paich. A virtual “A-Team” of musicians are assembled for the sessions, including Ray Parker, Jr., David T. Walker, Steve Lukather (guitar), David Shields, Chuck Rainey (bass), James Gadson, Bernard Purdie (drums), Bobbye Hall, Harvey Mason, Joe Porcaro (percussion), Dick Hyde, Chuck Findley, Ernie Watts, Pete Christlieb, Gary Grant and Steve Madaio (horns). The album is led by the instant classic “Got To Be Real” (#1 R&B, #12 Pop), quickly establishing Lynn as a force to be reckoned with. It spins off two more singles including “Star Love” (#16 R&B, #62 Pop) and “You Saved My Day”. “Star Love” is unique in the fact that it is recorded almost completely live in the studio. “You Saved My Day” becomes a club classic over the years, with Columbia issuing the full unedited version as a promotional only 12" in the US. Over time, the rare single becomes a highly prized and expensive collector’s item. “Day” is released as a limited edition 12" for Record Store Day in April of 2018. Originally released on CD in 1987, it is given a long overdue remastering and reissue in 2014 by UK reissue label SoulMusic Records. Produced and annotated by veteran music historian and journalist David Nathan, it features four additional bonus tracks including the shorter initial single release of “Got To Be Real”, featured on the first pressing of the album, but eventually replaced with the longer “Disco Mix”. It also features the 12" and single edits of “Star Love” and promo 12" mix of “You Saved My Day”. “Cheryl Lynn” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty three on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: October 9, 1976 – “A Fifth Of Beethoven” by Walter Murphy & The Big Apple Band hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #10 on the R&B singles chart on October 16, 1976, and peaking at #13 on the Adult Contemporary chart on July 10, 1976. Written and produced by Walter Murphy, it is the biggest hit for the New York City born and raised musician and arranger. Inspired by studio band Apollo 100’s rearrangement of Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” (released as “Joy” in 1972 #6 Pop), Murphy creates a disco arrangement of the first movement of the composers famous Fifth Symphony. After being turned down by several labels, the record is picked up by Private Stock Records. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on May 29, 1976, it makes a long, slow climb up the chart, reaching the top nineteen weeks later. A year after its chart topping success, the song is prominently featured in the film and on the soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever”, which wins the Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1979. Murphy has continued to have success as a composer and conductor, recording under the name Uncle Louie for TK Records offshoot Marlin Records in the late 70’s (“Full Tilt Boogie”, “I Like Funky Music”), and writing the music for the Emmy award winning animated series “Family Guy” since its debut in 1999, as well as “The Cleveland Show” and “American Dad”. “A Fifth Of Beethoven” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: September 4, 1976 – “You Should Be Dancing” by the Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #4 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the third US chart topper for the trio of brothers from the Isle Of Man, UK. Issued as the first single from the bands fourteenth album “Children Of The World”, the single and album mark a major turning point in the Bee Gees career. Having previously worked successfully with producer Arif Mardin on their comeback release “Main Course”, Mardin is not able to work with the group on the follow up, when the Bee Gees label RSO Records changes distribution from Atlantic Records to Polydor in 1976. Mardin is an Atlantic staff producer exclusively at the time and isn’t permitted to work with artists not on the label. Having gained experience from all they have learned about producing records from their mentor, the Bee Gees take over the production duties themselves with assistance from engineers Albhy Galuten and Karl Richardson who become their co-producers. “You Should Be Dancing” is recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL in early 1976 with the Bee Gees band including Alan Kendall (lead guitar), Blue Weaver (keyboards), Dennis Bryon (drums), Joe Lala (percussion) along with Barry Gibb (rhythm guitar) and Maurice Gibb (bass). Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash happens to recording his album “Illegal Stills” in adjoining studio, also sits in on a session playing percussion. Entering the Hot 100 at #67 on July 4, 1976, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. A little more than a year after its release, “You Should Be Dancing” is featured prominently in the film “Saturday Night Fever” when it is used in an electrifying dance sequence featuring John Travolta, that is one of the films highlights. At the time of the singles original release, a slightly longer version of “Dancing” is issued as a promotional 12" single. Also featured on another promo 12" single issued to promote the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack in 1977, this mix finally sees its first commercial release in 1990 on the box set “Tales From The Brothers Gibb – A History In Song – 1967 – 1990”. The extended mix is also reissued on vinyl for Record Store Day in April of 2015, on a limited edition 12" single titled  "Bee Gees: Extended EP".  "You Should Be Dancing" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 28, 1976 – “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” by KC & The Sunshine Band hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 1 week on September 11, 1976. Written and produced by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, it is the third chart topping single for the Florida based R&B band. Issued as the first single from the bands “Part 3” album in June of 1976, it is one of three top five singles (“Keep It Comin’ Love” and “I’m Your Boogie Man”) to be released from it. The original single release of “Shake Your Booty” is backed with the track “Boogie Shoes” from KC & The Sunshine Band’s self-titled second album.  "Shoes" becomes a dance floor favorite and hit in its own right (#29 R&B, #35 Pop), when it is included on the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack in 1977. When TK reissues “Boogie Shoes” as an A-side in January of 1978, it is sped up slightly from its originally recorded speed, as it is on the soundtrack album.  It wins the band along with all of the other artists featured on the album a Grammy Award for Album Of The Year in 1979. “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty” becoming KC & The Sunshine Band’s third million selling single one year to the week after their first chart topper “Get Down Tonight”.

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On this day in music history: August 27, 1975 – “Love To Love You Baby”, the second album by Donna Summer is released. Produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, it is recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany from May – June 1975. Summer comes up with the initial idea for the title track having written the lyrics and melody. Moroder and Bellotte suggests that Summer sing it in a more sultry and sexual manner, which at first she is hesitant to do. She agrees when she thinks the recording will be a demo for another singer. Before tape rolls on the song, Summer asks that the lights in the studio be turned off while she records her vocals. Moroder likes the finished recording so much that he insists that it be released. Titled “Love To Love You”, it is first released in Europe to modest success. After Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart hears the initial shorter single version of the song (#2 Pop, #3 R&B), he suggests that a longer version of the song be cut, which clocks in at nearly seventeen minutes, taking up one whole side of the album. It immediately creates a sensation in dance clubs (#1 Billboard Club Play) and begins to receive radio play. When some stations ban it, feeling it is too blatantly sexual, it only heightens its allure and popularity. Released on CD in 1992, it is remastered and reissued as an SHM-CD by Universal Japan in 2012. Out of print on vinyl for more than thirty years, it is remastered and reissued by Universal/UMe in 2015 to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of its original release. “Love To Love You Baby” peaks at number eleven on the Billboard Top 200, number six on the R&B album chart, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 26, 1978 – “Get Off” by Foxy hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #9 on the Hot 100 on November 11, 1978. Written by Ish Ledesma and Carl Driggs, it is the biggest hit for the Miami, FL based Cuban American R&B band led by singer, songwriter and musician Ish Ledesma (born Ismael Angel Ledesma). Originally formed in 1976, Foxy become the house band for TK Records when the label’s top act KC & The Sunshine Band become too popular and busy to remain at home in Florida. The song “Get Off” is created out of an onstage improvisation while the band are playing at a club in Ocean City, MD. The songs trademark disco call annoys the club manager so much that he threatens to the throw the band and their equipment out into the street. Not wanting to back down from such a threat, Ledesma and Driggs goes back to the motel where they’re staying, and finish writing “Get Off”. They play it at the club the next night and true to his word, the club manager fires the band and has them physically tossed out. They return to Miami the next day, and upon their return play the song for their label boss Henry Stone at TK Records. Stone loves the song and tells them to cut it immediately. Sung by Ish and Carl, the track is recorded at Studio Center Studios in Miami, FL with producer Cory Wade (Peter Brown). The single also features the female vocal group Wildflower on background vocals. Within just a few weeks of its June 1978 release, the funky and risque single becomes a smash in the clubs, quickly crossing over to the R&B and pop charts. “Get Off” sells over a million copies in the US, and is recognized today as one of the definitive records of the Disco Era.

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On this day in music history: August 23, 1975 – “Get Down Tonight” by KC & The Sunshine Band hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Hot 100 for 1 week on August 30, 1975. Written and produced by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, it is the first chart topping single for the Hialeah, FL based R&B band. Casey and Finch meet each other in 1973 when they are hired to do odd jobs at local label TK Records. Following the huge success they have as the writers and producers of George McCrae’s international hit “Rock Your Baby”, KC & The Sunshine Band launch their own career with their first album “Do It Good” spinning off the singles “Blow Your Whistle”, “Sound Your Funky Horn” in 1974. On “Get Down Tonight”, the songs signature guitar licks on the intro are achieved by recording guitarist Jerome Smith playing with the tape running at half speed, changing both the sound and texture of the notes dramatically when played back at normal speed. Issued as the first single from their self-titled second album in March of 1975, it hits the R&B and pop charts, climbing both simultaneously. “Get Down Tonight” sells over a million copies in the US, and is the first of four R&B and five pop chart toppers that KC & The Sunshine Band have over the next four and a half years.

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On this day in music history: August 18, 1979 – “Good Times” by Chic hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 6 weeks on July 28, 1979. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the second chart topping single the New York City based R&B band led by musicians Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. One of the first songs completed for Chic’s third album “Risque”, the song was not originally Atlantic Records choice for the first single. The label actually preferred the song “My Feet Keep Dancing”. The label quickly presses singles and has them ready to ship, when Edwards and Rodgers have a disagreement over the labels choice, resulting in the two not speaking to each other for several days. When they both realize that they don’t want the song to be the first single, they quickly call a meeting with Atlantic label execs asking that “Feet” be withdrawn, and “Good Times” be released instead. The decision proves to be a wise one with “Good Times” rising to the top of the pop and R&B singles charts quickly. Entering the Hot 100 at #72 on June 16, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “My Feet Keep Dancing” is eventually issued as the third and final single from “Risque” in late 1979, peaking at #42 on the R&B singles chart and Bubbling Under the Hot 100 at #101. “Good Times” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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