Category: disco

On this day in music history: July 14, 1979 – …

On this day in music history: July 14, 1979 – “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on July 21, 1979. Written by Donna Summer, Eddie Hokenson, Bruce Sudano and Joe Esposito, it is the third pop chart topper and biggest hit for the Boston, MA born singer and songwriter. Summer is inspired to write the song (collaborating with the group Brooklyn Dreams) when her personal assistant is mistaken as being a street prostitute by a police officer, while walking down Sunset Blvd near Casablanca’s offices. Upon hearing her demo recording, Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart suggests that Donna give the song to Cher. Summer refuses to give the song away, and files the tape away until engineer Steve Smith discovers the demo during recording sessions for the “Bad Girls” album in early 1979. His enthusiasm for the song encourages Donna to record it herself. Due to intense public demand, Casablanca Records rush releases “Bad Girls” as a single on May 14, 1979, just one month after the first single “Hot Stuff”. The two singles are released so closely together, that both reside in the top five on the pop chart for six consecutive weeks. Entering the Hot 100 at #55 on May 26, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The success of the single helps drive sales of the album to over 3x Platinum status in the US. The huge success of the singles and album, lead the ABC television network to offering Summer the opportunity to host her own television special. “The Donna Summer Special” directed by Don Mischer (The Academy Awards) airs on January 27, 1980. “Bad Girls” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1979 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1979 – WLUP radio DJ’s Steve Dahl and Gerry Meier stage a “Disco Demolition” rally at Comiskey Park in Chicago. The event takes place during a White Sox/Detroit Tigers doubleheader blowing up a bin with thousands of disco records, and it quickly spirals out of control. 50,000 plus fans attend the event which degenerates into a full scale riot, with people storming the field, setting bonfires to the debris littering the field and vandalizing the ball park. Chicago Cubs public announcer Harry Caray attempts to bring calm to the crowd by singing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”, but it does not quell the mayhem as the mob goes unabated. Thirty nine people are arrested, and the second ball game are forfeited. The event goes down in infamy, and signals beginning of the end of the Disco Era in popular music.

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On this day in music history: July 12, 1975 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1975 – “The Hustle” by Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Hot 100 on July 26, 1975 for 1 week. Written by Van McCoy, it is the biggest hit for the Washington D.C. born and raised producer, arranger and composer. McCoy composes the instrumental after seeing couple do the dance in a New York disco. Working with famed producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore (Sam Cooke, The Stylistics), the track is recorded at Media Sound Studios in New York City. The sessions feature a number of top notch studio musicians performing on the track including Steve Gadd and Rick Marotta (drums), Eric Gale and John Tropea (guitars), Richard Tee (electric piano), Gordon Edwards (bass), and piccolo player Philip Bodner playing the song’s signature melody line. The strings are arranged by famed New York concertmaster Gene Orloff. Released on Hugo & Luigi’s (co-owned with film producer Joseph E. Levine) Avco Records in March of 1975, the song quickly becomes a smash on the dance floor, making its way on to pop and R&B radio. The single wins Van McCoy a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1976. “The Hustle” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 6, 1974 – &…

On this day in music history: July 6, 1974 – “Rock The Boat” by The Hues Corporation hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Wally Holmes, it is the biggest hit for the Santa Monica, CA based R&B vocal trio. Originally calling themselves “Brothers And Sisters” then “Children Of Howard Hughes”, the group is put together by songwriter Wally Holmes in 1968. After playing high profile gigs in Las Vegas, they amend their name to The Hues Corporation, to avoid legal action from the eccentric multi-billionaire. The group originally consists of vocalists Bernard St. Clair Lee, Fleming Williams and H. Ann Kelly. The Hues Corporation record three songs, for the soundtrack to the blaxploitation classic “Blacula” in 1972, also appearing in the film. They are then signed as artists to RCA Records, off the back of the soundtrack. Working with RCA staff producer John Florez (The Friends Of Distinction), The Hues Corporation record their debut album “Freedom For The Stallion” released in December of 1973. The title track is issued as their first single, but fails to chart. The mid tempo groove “Rock The Boat” is released as the follow up in February 1974. Sung by Fleming Williams, he departs the group before the album is released and is replaced by Karl Russell. The track features Joe Sample (keyboards), Wilton Felder (bass) and Larry Carlton (guitar) of The Crusaders and studio drummer Jim Gordon (The Wrecking Crew, Derek & The Dominos) playing on it. The single initially goes unnoticed by the public, until club DJ’s in New York City discover the song and begin playing it. It immediately becomes a dance floor favorite and sells over 50,000 copies in New York alone without any radio airplay. RCA Records, realizing they have a hit on their hands finally begin promoting the song to radio which sets it on the path to number one. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on May 25, 1974, it rockets to the top of the chart six weeks later. “Rock The Boat” crosses the million mark in sales on June 24, 1974, two weeks before it reaches the top of the pop singles chart. It eventually sells in excess of over two million copies and spending eighteen weeks on the chart. The song is later covered by Inner Circle and Yo La Tengo, and sampled by De La Soul, Jurassic 5, and Grand Puba. In a unique twist of fate, KC and Richard Finch of KC & The Sunshine Band are inspired in part by “Rock The Boat”, when writing the chart topping smash “Rock Your Baby” for singer George McCrae. Both songs are also in the top ten on the pop and R&B charts at the same time, with McCrae’s record replacing The Hues Corporation at the top of the Hot 100 on July 13, 1974. “Rock The Boat” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 6, 1974 – &…

On this day in music history: July 6, 1974 – “Rock Your Baby” by George McCrae hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 2 weeks on July 13, 1974. Written and produced by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, it is the biggest hit for the Florida born and raised R&B vocalist. Casey and Finch initially record “Rock Your Baby” as demo during off hours at TK Records studio in Miami, where they are working doing odd jobs. With the two playing all of the instruments (except guitar, played by KC & The Sunshine Band guitarist Jerome Smith), and using scrap tape from the studio, they record the track in only forty five minutes. It costs them only $15, the fee paid to Smith to play on the track. KC and Rick play the finished recording for execs at the label, who declare it “a smash” and to “not change a thing”. The song is originally slated for KC & The Sunshine Band, but do not put it on their record, when KC realizes that the song is in a key much higher than he usually sings in. By coincidence, McCrae walks into the studio the next day and hears the track. Casey and Finch invite him to have a go at recording the song. McCrae completes his vocal in only two takes. “Rock Your Baby” is a massive hit, not only in the US but internationally as well, also topping the UK singles chart and selling over eleven million copies worldwide. “Rock Your Baby” is also significant in being one of the first “disco” songs to break into the pop music mainstream, kicking off the Disco Era. Also issued in extended form on McCrae’s album, also titled “Rock Your Baby”, two different mixes of the song are released. The original hit single version of the song features a prominent snare drum beat on the track, that is mixed out the LP version. Other than the original pressing of the 45, this mix only surfaces on a 12″ single reissue on Sunnyview Records in 1985, and the Priority Records compilation CD titled “Mega Hits Disco: Volume 7″ in 1989. In later years, when the master tape with the hit single mix cannot be located, an alternate master using the LP mix edited down to match the timing of the single, is used in its place. This latter version becomes the common version most often used on compilations featuring the song.

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When I started this blog here in October of 20…

When I started this blog here in October of 2011, it was to indulge and share my passion for music with others. In just a few years, “Behind The Grooves” has grown from just a handful of followers to over 21,000 here on Tumblr alone. These posts require extensive research and many hours to write and edit, and are the product of my own personal diligence and dedication.

Presently, I’m unemployed and struggling to keep myself afloat financially. I am making an appeal to my followers for donations. I’m also looking to publish my writing (in hard copy and or in e-book form), and am trying to raise the funds to make that happen.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Anyone that can make a donation, can do so by clicking on the link at: PayPal.Me/jharris1228

I greatly appreciate any support you can give. Every bit helps!! Thank you!!

On this day in music history: July 3, 1978 – &…

On this day in music history: July 3, 1978 – “Let’s Start The Dance” by Hamilton Bohannon is released. Written and produced by Hamilton Bohannon, it is the sixteenth single release and biggest hit for the musician, producer and arranger from Newman, GA. Born and raised forty miles outside of Atlanta, GA, Hamilton Bohannon begins playing the drums in local bands. While studying music education at Clark College in Atlanta in the early 60’s, Bohannon joins a band that also includes a young guitarist named Jimi Hendrix. Completing his degree, Hamilton plays in bands at night while working as a schoolteacher during the day. In early 1964, on one of these club gigs, he meets a then thirteen year old Stevie Wonder. Impressed by Bohannon’s drumming, Motown hires him to become Wonder’s tour drummer. Touring with the young star for the next three years, Bohannon moves from Atlanta to Detroit. Only in his mid twenties, Bohannon is hired by Motown as a bandleader and arranger for some of the label’s top artists including Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & The Supremes, Smokey Robinson & The Miracles and The Four Tops. He stays with Motown until 1972, until the company when they relocates to Los Angeles. Signing with Brunswick subsidiary Dakar Records, Bohannon begins recording under his own name. Scoring only minor hits on Dakar between 1973 and 1975, the most successful are “Foot Stompin Music” (#39 R&B, #23 UK) “Disco Stomp” (#62 R&B, #6 UK). The musician changes labels in 1976, signing with Mercury Records. With disco in full swing, Bohannon’s heavy and fluid drumming style is a natural fit for the dance floor. Though he has only minor chart success, Bohannon’s music is played heavily in clubs, where he becomes a star and well respected figure of that scene. That changes in 1978, when he records and releases his second Mercury album “Summertime Groove”. Packed with hot grooves all around, the album’s centerpiece is the single “Let’s Start The Dance” (#9 R&B, #101 Pop, #56 UK). To sing lead vocals on the track, Hamilton hires former Motown vocalist Carolyn Crawford (“My Smile Is Just a Frown (Turned Upside Down)”). With Crawford’s searing vocals backed by Bohannon’s propulsive drumming, “Dance” becomes an instant club classic, and his biggest hit in the US. The success of “Let’s Start The Dance” inspires the sequel “Let’s Start II Dance Again” (#41 R&B, #49 UK) in 1981, hitting the charts again. In time, both songs and other Bohannon classics are heavily sampled in other dance, Hip Hop and R&B records and are remixed numerous times. Hamilton Bohannon’s status as a dance music innovator, is solidified when the Tom Tom Club name check him in their classic “Genius Of Love”. Still active in music today, the musician has worked on music with his son Hamilton Bohannon II, and has published his memoirs as an audiobook.

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On this day in music history: July 2, 1979 -…

On this day in music history: July 2, 1979 – “Mickey Mouse Disco” is released. Produced by Jymn Magon, it is recorded at Audio Media Recording Studios in Nashville, TN from Early – Mid 1979. With disco permeating the culture unlike anything before it, its influence is everywhere. Eventually the Walt Disney Studios jumps on board to cash in. In January of 1977, Disney revives The Mickey Mouse Club as “The New Mickey Mouse Club” as a syndicated TV series. Featuring a new group of Mouseketeers that includes future Facts Of Life star Lisa Whelchel, Allison Fonte, Curtis Wong, Kelly Parsons, and Scott Craig, the series runs for 130 episodes through January of 1979. During its first season, the actors record an up tempo discofied version of the “Mickey Mouse March”. Titled “Disco Mouse (Mickey Mouse March)”, the song is released as a single by Buena Vista Records. Though not a success, it sets the wheels in motion for an even more ambitious project. Producer Jymn Magon proposes that Disney record a disco album aimed at children, featuring both original songs and four on the floor covers of evergreens like “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”, “It’s A Small World” and “Chim Chim Cher-ee”. Disney executives join forces with a company called Odyssey Productions out of Nashville, TN to record the album. Musicians and studio singers including Dennis Burnside, Pat Patrick, Paul Whitehead and Jack Jackson are hired to play on the album and write new songs. Titled “Mickey Mouse Disco”, the nine song album is ironically titled as the voice of Mickey Mouse is not heard on it. Though other Disney characters like Donald Duck (“Macho Duck”) and Goofy (“Watch Out For Goofy!”), are represented. Issued at a time when the disco is on the wane, the album initially attracts little attention. Then Disney’s marketing department comes up with the idea of promoting the record with TV commercials, as well as offering it for sale as a direct mail order item as well as at retail. The plan works brilliantly, and by April of 1980, “Mickey Mouse Disco” races past the Gold mark in sales. Realizing that they’re on to something unique, Disney also sells numerous merchandising tie-ins. It also spins off a program, featuring classic Disney animated footage synched up to the music. Aired incessantly on the Disney Channel during the 80’s, it also propels the album’s sales. Its blend of kitsch, humor and family friendly appeal turn it into one of the biggest children’s albums of all time, selling more than two million copies in the US alone. Reissued briefly on CD in 1995, “Mickey Mouse Disco” is reissued as a limited edition vinyl LP for Record Store Day in April of 2019, for its fortieth anniversary. “Mickey Mouse Disco” peaks at number thirty five on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: June 30, 1980 – …

On this day in music history: June 30, 1980 – “Real People”, the fourth album by Chic is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City from March – April 1980. Having ridden a phenomenal wave of success in the late 70’s with such era defining classics as “Everybody Dance”, “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)”, “Le Freak” and “Good Times”, Chic masterminds Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers find themselves at a major musical crossroads at the turn of the new decade. Caught in the midst of the hostile anti-disco backlash that has reached a crescendo by the end of 1979, Chic respond by deepening their funk groove, with more jazzy sophisticated chord changes, flying in the face of critics pontificating that disco is simplistic and lacking in substance. This point is driven home further by the albums defiant first single “Rebels Are We” (#8 R&B, #61 Pop), as a response to their critics and the negativity directed at them. In spite of making a solid and musically challenging record, the public reacts largely with indifference, with the album spinning off one further single with the title track and “Chip Off The Old Block” (#51 R&B, #79 Pop) being released as a double A-side. “Real People” marks the beginning of Chic’s commercial decline, as Edwards and Rodgers continue produce successful records for other artists prior to and after the bands break up in 1983. In spite of the albums poor sales, it remains a cult favorite of devoted Chic fans. The album is reissued briefly on CD in 1992 by Atlantic Records, with another reissue in 2003 by Wounded Bird Records. “Real People” peaks at number eight on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number thirty on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: June 30, 1978 – …

On this day in music history: June 30, 1978 – “Step II”, the second album by Sylvester is released. Produced by Harvey Fuqua and Sylvester, it is recorded at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA, Conway Studios in Hollywood, CA and Clark-Brown Audio in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 1978. A fixture on the music scene in San Francisco since moving from his native Los Angeles in the early 70’s, singer Sylvester James is ready for his close up, figuratively and literally by the late part of the decade. Originally a member of the drag troupe The Cockettes, James gets his first opportunity to record fronting Sylvester And His Hot Band. Signed to Blue Thumb Records, the band record two albums, but neither are successful. Going back to playing bars and clubs in the city, nearly three years passes before Sylvester records again. While performing at The Palms nightclub in September of 1976, James’ show is seen by former Motown producer Harvey Fuqua. Impressed with Sylvester’s stage presence and one of a kind voice, Fuqua offers to work with him and get him a record contract. The singer is signed to Berkeley, CA based label Fantasy Records and records his self titled debut album in 1977. The singles “Down, Down, Down” and a cover of Ashford & Simpson’s “Over And Over”, become significant club hits. A proud and openly gay man, Sylvester is often at odds with Fantasy, who attempt to tone down his bright and flamboyant persona, to make him more marketable to a mainstream audience. Determined to build on the modest success of his first album, Sylvester and Fuqua begin work on the follow up. Bringing his backing vocalists Martha Wash and Izora Rhodes (Armstead) aka “Two Tons ‘O Fun more to the forefront, Sylvester adds another essential element to the mix. During the recording sessions, the singer invites keyboardist Patrick Cowley to participate in the sessions. A brilliant musician, and an innovator in the often tedious and complicated process of programming analog synthesizers, Cowley puts his unique touch on many tracks. A mixture of originals and covers, "Step II” is the perfect blend of Sylvester’s R&B and gospel influences, mixed with pulse pounding disco rhythms and heartfelt ballads. The album’s first single “Dance (Disco Heat)” (#4 R&B, #19 Pop, #1 Club Play) is an immediate club smash, before crossing over to radio. The follow up “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” (#20 R&B, #36 Pop, #1 Club Play) co-written by Sylvester with guitarist James “Tip” Wirrick, also becomes a big hit and one of the definitive songs of the Disco Era. The album establishes Sylvester as a star on a worldwide basis, becoming a lasting influence on R&B and dance music. “Step II” peaks at number seven on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty eight on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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