On this day in music history: October 9, 1961 – “Hit The Road Jack” by Ray Charles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 5 weeks on October 2, 1961. Written by Percy Mayfield, it is the sixth R&B chart topper and second pop chart topper for the Albany, GA born musician nicknamed “The Genius”. The song is originally recorded by Mayfield himself as an acapella demo, sending it to Specialty Records executive and producer Art Rupe. The songwriter then plays the song for his friend Ray Charles who likes it immediately and agrees to record it. The track is recorded at Bell Sound Studios in New York City on July 5, 1961, and features Charles duetting with Margie Hendrix of Charles’ female background vocal trio The Raelettes. Released as a single in August of 1961, “Hit The Road Jack” is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #55 on September 11, 1961, it rockets to the top of the chart five weeks later. The single wins Charles a Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance in 1962. In later years, the song is used in numerous films, television shows including “Two And A Half Men”, “The Fisher King”, “Cheech & Chong’s Next Movie” and commercials. Rapper MC Lyte also paraphrases the chorus of “Jack” on her song “Paper Thin” in 1988. “Hit The Road Jack” is also inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2013.
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