Category: disco

Born on this day: May 19, 1948 – Singer, songw…

Born on this day: May 19, 1948 – Singer, songwriter, model and actress Grace Jones (born Beverly Grace Jones in Spanish Town, Jamaica). Happy 71st Birthday, Grace!!

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On this day in music history: May 15, 1976 – &…

On this day in music history: May 15, 1976 – “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Hot 100 for 2 weeks on May 29, 1976. Written by Pam Sawyer and Marilyn McLeod, it is the second R&B and fourth pop chart topper for the Motown superstar. With the departure of The Jackson 5 from Motown after the release of their album “Moving Violation”, producer Hal Davis is left without his top act after working together for five years. During this time he hears the original demo of “Love Hangover” in a Motown colleague’s office. Instantly excited about the songs hit potential, he cuts it right away. Recorded at Paramount Studios in Hollywood in mid 1975, it features musicians such as Joe Sample (keyboards), James Gadson (drums), and Henry Davis (of the band L.T.D.) (bass) playing on the track. Davis also comes up with the idea for the songs signature dual tempos, which the musicians are initially resistant to, but he convinces them otherwise. Shortly after, Davis plays the completed track for Berry Gordy who hears it as a smash for Diana Ross. Though initially, Ross doesn’t care for it, but agrees to record it at Gordy’s urging. Upon arriving at the studio, Davis pours her a drink and they get to work. The producer has recording engineer Russ Terrana install a strobe light in the vocal booth to add some ambiance, helping to put Ross in the proper frame of mind. The end results of which are heard on the finished record. “Love Hangover” is rush released as a single in March of 1976 when a competing version by The 5th Dimension is released on ABC Records just before it. Both versions enter the chart the same week on April 3, 1976, with The 5th Dimension’s version stalling at #80 on the Hot 100 the week of April 24, 1976, while Ross’ version soars to the top of the chart three weeks later. Ross’ version of “Love Hangover” also receives a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female in 1977. It is also prominently featured in the film and on the soundtrack of “Looking For Mr. Goodbar” in 1977. The song is also remixed twice, first in 1988 by Phil Harding of PWL (Pete Waterman Limited), and again in 1993 by Frankie Knuckles and Joey Negro for a remix album titled “Diana Extended: The Remixes”. “Love Hangover” has also sampled numerous times by many artists including Digital Underground on a remix version of their single “Freaks Of The Industry”, Will Smith (“Freakin’ It”), Craig Mack (“Rap Hangover”), Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (“Ready 4 War”), 2Pac & Snoop Dogg (“If There’s A Cure (I Don’t Want It”), and Junior M.A.F.I.A. (“We Don’t Need It”). R&B singer Monica’s hit “The First Night” also samples the Diana Ross classic, taking it to the top of the Club Play, R&B and pop singles charts in 1998.

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On this day in music history: May 13, 1978 – &…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1978 – “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #60 on the R&B singles chart on June 3, 1978. Written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, it is the biggest hit for the Hawaiian born singer and actress. The song is actually the first that the Bee Gees complete when writing material for the “Saturday Night Fever” soundtrack. Initially, Elliman is to record the ballad “How Deep Is Your Love” for the film, but when executive producer/Bee Gees manager Robert Stigwood hears the Bee Gees’ demo version, he insists that they record it themselves, giving “If I Can’t Have You” to Elliman. The bands own version of “If I Can’t Have You” is issued as the non-LP B-side to “Stayin’ Alive” in late 1977. Elliman records her version with producer Freddie Perren (The Jackson 5, The Sylvers, Peaches & Herb) at The Mom & Pops Company Store Studios in Studio City, CA in mid 1977. Issued as the fourth single from “Saturday Night Fever” in January 1978, it is another major smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on January 28, 1978, it climbs to the top of the chart fifteen weeks later. “If I Can’t Have You” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 13, 1977 – “…

On this day in music history: May 13, 1977 – “I Remember Yesterday”, the fifth studio album by Donna Summer is released. Produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, it is recorded at Musicland Studios in Munich, Germany in Early 1977. It is a concept album comprising of popular music throughout the decades (from the 1940’s to the 1970’s) with Moroder and Belotte’s electronic dance rhythms intermingling with music from the past, present and future. The initial single from the album is the ballad “Can’t We Just Sit Down (And Talk It Over?)”, but club DJ’s discover the track “I Feel Love” on the B-side. The last track on the LP, the sequencer driven “I Feel Love” conceptually represents the “future” of music. The groundbreaking song quickly becomes a smash in discos around the world. From the dance floor it crosses over to radio and hitting #1 in the UK, #6 on the Hot 100 and spending three weeks at number one the Billboard Club Play chart. Regarded as one of the most important and influential dance records of all time, “I Feel Love” goes on to be remixed numerous times, the first being an epic length version (running over fifteen minutes) by synth pioneer Patrick Cowley in 1982. The song is also covered by Bronski Beat and Marc Almond (of Soft Cell) in 1985, taking their version to #3 on the UK singles chart. Originally released on CD in 1991, it is remastered and reissued in Japan as a limited edition SHM-CD in 2012. It is also reissued by Culture Factory Records in 2014, packaged in a mini-LP sleeve replicating the original vinyl LP artwork, including the Casablanca label on the disc and company inner sleeve. “I Remember Yesterday” peaks at number eighteen on the Billboard Top 200, number eleven on the R&B album chart, number three on the UK album chart, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 28, 1979 -…

On this day in music history: April 28, 1979 – “Heart Of Glass” by Blondie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Deborah Harry and Chris Stein, it is the first chart topping single for the New York City based new wave/rock band fronted by lead singer Debbie Harry. Debbie and Chris originally write the song in late 1974 – early 1975 as “Once I Had A Love” with a reggae flavored arrangement. It continues to evolve as they retool the sound of the song, giving it a slow “four on the floor” disco beat, then re-titling it “The Disco Song”. Producer Mike Chapman along with the band give it a dramatic makeover employing the use of synthesizers (Moog Polymoog, Roland SH-1000, the latter being triggered off the CR-78), and the Roland CR-78 drum machine which gives the song its signature “ticking” pulse. Released as the second single from the bands third album “Parallel Lines” on January 3, 1979, “Heart Of Glass” creates an immediate sensation on the dance floor that quickly spreads to radio. The band film a music video, directed by Stanley Dorfman of “Top Of The Pops” fame. Contrary to popular belief, the video is not shot at Studio 54, but at a smaller club in New York City. The single version is trimmed down to 3:22, also excising the verse with the line “pain in the ass” from the song. “Heart Of Glass” is also remixed and released as an extended 12" single, running nearly six minutes long. This longer version is eventually added to copies of the “Parallel Lines” album, replacing the original album mix. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on February 17, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. The huge success of “Heart Of Glass” is a double edged sword for Blondie as they are accused of “selling out” by their fellow musicians on the New York punk and new wave scene for having made “a disco song”. Regarded as one of the definitive 70’s songs, “Glass” is inducted into the

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On this day in music history: April 25, 1979 -…

On this day in music history: April 25, 1979 – “Bad Girls”, the seventh studio album by Donna Summer is released. Produced by Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, it is recorded at Rusk Sound Studios in Hollywood, CA from January – March 1979. Even after the back to back successes of the Oscar winning “Last Dance” and the double live album “Live And More” (containing her first chart topping single “MacArthur Park”), all is not well with the superstar vocalist. Trying to live up the hypersexual image cultivated by her record company proves to be too much for Donna Summer, having grown up in a very close knit religious family. The constant pressure to keep up the facade causes the singer to suffer a nervous breakdown. With the help of her sister Dara, she begins to reconnect with her spirituality and having what she later describes as a “spiritual rebirth”. Feeling thoroughly focused and more creative than ever, Summer begins work on her next album in early 1979. The fifteen track double album fully demonstrates Summer’s range as an artist both vocally and musically with her writing or co-writing most of the songs. The resulting album becomes a huge critical and commercial success. It spins off four singles including “Hot Stuff” (#1 Pop, #3 R&B), the title track (#1 Pop and R&B), and “Dim All The Lights” (#2 Pop, #3 R&B). In 2003, the album is reissued as a 2 CD Deluxe Edition featuring a remastered version of the original album with the previously unreleased demo version of the title track. The second disc features original 12" dance mixes of the singles released from the album with others that were previously available only as DJ promos or commercially issued 12" singles, with several making their CD debut. “Bad Girls” spends six weeks (non-consecutive) at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 25, 1979 -…

On this day in music history: April 25, 1979 – “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire With The Emotions is released. Written by Jon Lind and Allee Willis, it is the twenty first single release for the R&B/Funk band from Chicago, IL. As the 70’s draw to a close, Earth, Wind & Fire are enjoying tremendous success, having produced a string of hit albums and singles that make them one of the top bands of the era. In 1978, bandleader Maurice White calls songwriter Allee Willis, telling her I want you to come write the next Earth, Wind & Fire album". The first collaboration between them is the classic “September”, though that track is used for EW&F’s first greatest hits album released in the Fall of 1978. As work continues on their next studio album, Willis comes up with ideas and concepts for the project. With the Disco movement at its absolute pinnacle, the word “boogie” is a common one. Wanting to go in an opposite direction from the trite and lightweight songs using the word, Allee takes a much different approach. Having seen the dark drama “Looking For Mr. Goodbar”, starring Diane Keaton, Tom Beringer and Richard Gere, Willis thinks about the character Theresa Dunn played by Keaton while writing. Looking to escape from the dreariness of her daily life, Dunn goes to clubs and bars to dance and pick up men for one night stands, hoping to find a relationship. In the end, she winds up with Beringer (Gary), an ex-con who rapes and murders her in a rage. Collaborating with fellow songwriter Jon Lind (“Crazy For You”, “Sun Goddess”, “Save The Best For Last”), the pair write “Boogie Wonderland”. The upbeat, up tempo disco flavored track brilliantly masks the grim subtext of the lyrics inspired by “Goodbar”. The first two lines of the first verse “Midnight creeps so slowly into hearts of men who need more than they get”, “Daylight deals a bad hand to a women who’s laid too many bets”, refer what can happen when you go looking for love in the wrong place. Earth, Wind & Fire record the song during sessions for their ninth studio album “I Am”, with The Emotions on co-lead and backing vocals. Issued as their next single in the Spring of 1979, it is an immediate smash. This is in spite of grumbling from some fans that the R&B super group has “gone disco”, as backlash against the movement begins to mount. “Boogie Wonderland” peaks at #2 on the R&B singles chart on June 16, 1979 (unable to dislodge Anita Ward’s “Ring My Bell” from the top spot), and #6 on the Hot 100 on July 14, 1979. The song is wins a Grammy Award for Best R&B Instrumental Performance, and is nominated for Best Disco Recording in 1980. “Boogie” featured in numerous films over the years including “Roller Boogie”, “Caddyshack”, “Happy Feet”, and “Madagascar”. “Boogie Wonderland” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: April 24, 1976 -…

On this day in music history: April 24, 1976 – “Livin’ For The Weekend” by The O’Jays hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #20 on the Hot 100 on the same date. Written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert, it is the fifth chart topping single for the R&B vocal trio from Canton, OH. Following up their previous smash, the R&B chart topping top five crossover smash “I Love Music”, The O’Jays continue their hit making streak with the second single from their fourth studio album “Family Reunion”. The songs arresting dual slow and fast tempo shifts create a sensation on the dance floor and quickly becomes a favorite in clubs even before it is issued as a single. During the songs run on the charts, original member William Powell is diagnosed with cancer and is forced to retire from performing with the group on stage. However, he continues to sing with the group in the studio, making his final appearance on The O’Jays next album “Message In The Music”, released in late 1976. Powell passes away on May 26, 1977 at the age of thirty five. Powell’s stage replacement, Sammy Strain (formerly of Little Anthony & The Imperials) becomes a full fledged member of the group in mid 1977.

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On this day in music history: April 23, 1977 -…

On this day in music history: April 23, 1977 – “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Thelma Houston hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on February 19, 1977. Written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert, it is the biggest hit for the R&B vocalist from Leland, MS. Signed to Motown Records since 1971, singer Thelma Houston’s self-titled first album for the label is met with only minimal sales. Believing in her talent, the label sticks by her, featuring her on the soundtrack to the Motown produced film “The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings” in 1976. The same year, she records her third album “Any Way You Like It” with producer Hal Davis (The Jackson 5, Diana Ross). While at a party, Davis hears the song “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes, featuring Teddy Pendergrass on lead vocals. With Pendergrass’ gospel inflected vocals on the song, and with Houston also having a rich, soulful voice, the producer decides it is a perfect fit for his artist. Playing the song for her, Houston agrees, and they go into the studio to record it. When “Any Way You Like It” is released in October of 1976, initially no single is released from it, as Motown has released the song “One Out Of Every Six”, a song from the comedy “Norman, Is That You?” in September. Meanwhile, club DJ’s serviced with Houston’s new album hear “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and immediately single it out for play. The song is an instant sensation is discos around the country, leading Motown to release it as a single in November of 1976. Entering the Hot 100 at #85 on December 18, 1976, it takes a long, slow climb up the chart, reaching the top eighteen weeks later. Thelma Houston wins a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 1978. Long regarded as one of the greatest songs of the Disco Era, “Don’t Leave Me This Way” becomes an anthem and rallying cry in the gay community during the height of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in the 1980’s and 90’s, becoming a pop cultural touchstone. In 1986, British Hi-NRG dance duo The Communards cover the song, taking it to the top of the UK singles chart for four weeks, and peaking at #40 on the Hot 100. “Don’t Leave Me This Way” is also inducted into the Dance Music Hall Of Fame in 2004.

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On this day in music history: April 21, 1979 -…

On this day in music history: April 21, 1979 – “Knock On Wood” by Amii Stewart hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #6 on the R&B singles chart on April 7, 1979. Written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper, it is the biggest hit for the Washington DC based singer and musical theater actress born Amy Paulette Stewart. The song is originally recorded by R&B singer Eddie Floyd in 1966, hitting #1 on the R&B singles chart (#28 Pop), with Otis Redding and Carla Thomas also recording a version in 1967 and David Bowie in 1974. Stewart records her version in 1978 in London with producer Barry Leng. The high energy disco infused rendering of the song becomes a huge hit around the world, selling over eight million copies worldwide, over two million in the US alone. Entering the Hot 100 at #85 on January 27, 1979, it climbs to the top of the Hot 100 twelve weeks later. “Knock On Wood” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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