On this day in music history: September 13, 1986 – “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock, it is the biggest hit for the new wave pop-rock band from Los Angeles, CA fronted by lead singer Terri Nunn. Having written Oscar winning music for films such as “Midnight Express” and “Flashdance”, composer and producer Giorgio Moroder is asked by film producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to contribute to the soundtrack of their film “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, and Anthony Edwards. Paired with lyricist Tom Whitlock, they write the soundtracks two biggest hits “Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away”. Both songs are offered to Berlin. Initially, “Danger Zone” (#2 Pop) is planned as a duet, but is passed on to Kenny Loggins when the band declines to record it. Used as the “love theme” for the film, “Take My Breath Away” is an immediate hit with film audiences and record buyers. Entering the Hot 100 at #96 on June 21, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The song wins the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1987, earning Moroder his third Oscar and becoming the thirteenth song in the rock era to achieve that honor. The success of Berlin’s single propels the “Top Gun” soundtrack to number one for five weeks (non-consecutive) on the Billboard Top 200, and going 9x Platinum in the US. “Take My Breath Away” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 11, 1982 – “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary Chart for 3 weeks on August 21, 1982. Written by Peter Cetera and David Foster, it is the second chart topping single for the rock band from Chicago, IL. Following their being unceremoniously dropped by former label Columbia Records after releasing fifteen albums over their thirteen year association with the label, Chicago sign with Warner Bros Records in late 1981. With the change of label come other changes. Former Sons Of Champlin keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist Bill Champlin joins the band as a co-lead vocalist, and Chicago selects former studio musician and songwriter David Foster to produce them. Once a fully self contained band, Foster streamlines and retools Chicago’s sound by bringing in Toto members David Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro (and others) to augment them instrumentally as well as work as songwriting collaborators. The ballad “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” is the first single released from “Chicago 16” on May 27, 1982. It is also included in the Randal Kleiser (“Grease”, “The Blue Lagoon”) directed film “Summer Lovers” starring Daryl Hannah and Peter Gallagher. Though the film is a box office disappointment, “Sorry” is Chicago’s first major hit in nearly five years. The full LP version of the track segues into the song “Get Away”, but is edited for single release, via a fade out before the start of the next song. Though today, many radio stations play both tracks in sequence. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on June 5, 1982, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 10, 1983 – “Maniac” by Michael Sembello hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and musician from Philadelphia, PA. Born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Michael Sembello begins playing guitar during his childhood, and by his teens has mastered the instrument, and is working as a professional session musician. Before he’s even out of high school, Sembello is hired by Stevie Wonder as a member of his band Wonderlove, touring and recording with the Motown legend from 1972 to 1979. Following his tenure with Wonder, Sembello continues successfully as a first call session musician and songwriter, working with the likes of Michael Jackson, George Benson, Jeffrey Osborne, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Chaka Khan. In 1982, producer Phil Ramone is hired as the music supervisor for the film “Flashdance”, compiling additional material for the soundtrack album. Ramone calls his friend Michael Sembello, and asks him he has any songs that might be suitable for use in the film. Sembello sends Ramone a tape with several songs for him to consider. The producer calls him back, telling him his favorite song on the tape is one called “Maniac”. The original lyrics about a killer on a rampage, are inspired by director William Lustig’s low budget horror-slasher film classic “Maniac”. The original lyrics are changed at the request of film producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to match the film’s theme about a female welder aspiring to become a professional dancer. Released as the second single from the “Flashdance” soundtrack in May of 1983, the song is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on June 4, 1983, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. “Maniac” is also released as an extended 12" single remixed by John “Jellybean” Benitez which also becomes a top seller. Michael Sembello and co-writer Dennis Matkosky win a Grammy Award for Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score Written for A Motion Picture or a Television Special in 1984 for their contribution to the “Flashdance” original motion picture soundtrack. They also receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 1984, but lose the award to the soundtrack’s other huge hit “Flashdance… What A Feeling”.
On this day in music history: August 26, 1995 – “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 12 weeks on the same date. Written by Seal , it is the biggest hit for the British born Nigerian/Afro-Brazilian singer, songwriter and musician. Originally written for his second self-titled album released in 1994, “Kiss From A Rose” is almost left off of the album when Seal and his producer Trevor Horn feel initially that it sounds “too different” from the other songs on the album, planning to drop it from the final track sequence. A friend of Seal’s hears the song and insist that he include it. When a Warner Bros A&R exec hears “Kiss”, he plays it for Gary LeMel, the president of music for Warner Bros movie division. LeMel plays the song for Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher who loves the song and asks to use it in the film. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on June 24, 1995, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The song drives both Seal’s second self titled album and the “Batman Forever” soundtrack to multi-platinum status, as well as winning three Grammy Awards including Record and Song Of The Year for 1995. “Kiss From A Rose” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 26, 1978 – “Grease” by Frankie Valli hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #40 on the R&B singles chart on September 16, 1978. Written by Barry Gibb, it is the second solo chart topper for legendary lead vocalist of The Four Seasons born Francesco Castelluccio. Following the Bee Gees work on the soundtrack for “Saturday Night Fever” and as the group are wrapping up filming on the Robert Stigwood helmed “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, Barry Gibb is asked by Stigwood to write the theme song for film adaptation of the long running hit musical “Grease”. Gibb quickly writes the song on his own, cutting the track at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL in April of 1978. Guitarist Peter Frampton, Gibb’s co-star in “Sgt. Pepper” plays guitar on the track. Barry Gibb is also instrumental in bringing in Frankie Valli to sing the title song to the film. Released as the second single from the “Grease” soundtrack on May 6, 1978, it quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on May 27, 1978, it climbs to the top of the chart thirteen weeks later. “Grease” is Valli’s second solo number one (seventh overall) giving him a span of nearly sixteen years since his first number with The Four Seasons in 1962. The success of the song drives sales of the “Grease” soundtrack to over 8x Platinum in the US, and worldwide sales of over twenty eight million copies. At the time of its domination of the charts, it is the second largest selling soundtrack album of all time after “Saturday Night Fever” (eventually displaced to second and third place by “The Bodyguard” Soundtrack). “Grease” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 24, 1985 – “Power Of Love” by Huey Lewis & The News hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Huey Lewis, Chris Hayes and John Colla, it is the first chart topping single for the Marin, CA based rock band fronted by lead singer Huey Lewis (born Hugh Anthony Cregg III). In late 1984, film producers Bob Gale and Neil Canton approach Huey Lewis about writing and performing a song for the film “Back To The Future” directed by Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”, “Cast Away”) and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. Initially, the band write a song called “In The Nick Of Time” which Gale and Canton love. But the song is given away to the Richard Pryor comedy “Brewster’s Millions”, when negotiations between Lewis’ manager, lawyers and Universal take too long. In place of “In The Nick Of Time”, Lewis and the band offer up the songs “Back In Time” and “Power Of Love” for the “Back To The Future” soundtrack. The producers of the film are not fond of “Love” initially, but quickly warm up to it. Lewis himself also makes a brief cameo appearance in the film as a school administrator that rejects Michael J. Fox’s band, who in a bit of tongue in cheek irony are playing a hard rock cover of “Power Of Love” in an audition to the play the school’s dance. Released in tandem with the films June 1985 opening, the song is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #46 on June 29, 1985, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The single also receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 1986, though it loses to Lionel Richie’s “Say You, Say Me”. “Power Of Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 22, 1987 – “Who’s That Girl” by Madonna hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard, it is the sixth chart topping single for the pop music superstar. Director James Foley (“At Close Range”) asks Madonna to record some new songs for the films soundtrack. Madonna in turn calls upon her collaborators Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray to write “some uptempo material” that might work in the film. Madonna later writes the melody and lyrics for the songs they have written. Inspired by her own recent top five hit “La Isla Bonita”, she writes based on the Latin feel of that song. Recorded as the theme song to her third film (originally titled “Slammer”), the films title is changed before its release to “Who’s That Girl”. Issued as the first single from the soundtrack on June 30, 1987, it quickly becomes another smash for Madonna. Entering the Hot 100 at #43 on July 11, 1987, it rockets to the top of the chart six weeks later. Though the film opens to bad reviews and disappointing box office, the success of “Who’s That Girl”, and its follow up single “Causing A Commotion” propel the soundtrack album to 2x Platinum status in the US.
On this day in music history: August 15, 1981 – “Endless Love” by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 9 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 7 weeks on August 22, 1981, and the Adult Contemporary chart for 3 weeks on September 5, 1981. Written by Lionel Richie, it is the theme for the Brooke Shields film of the same name. The duet comes about when Richie is asked by director Franco Zeffirelli and producer Jon Peters to write an instrumental theme for their film. The two change their minds and request that the song have lyrics and make it a duet with a female artist. Motown executive Suzanne DePasse suggests Diana Ross, though at the time has just recently left Motown for RCA Records. Hearing Lionel’s song, Diana agrees to sing the duet. Both singers have to adjust their busy schedules in order to record together. Ross is in the middle of a concert engagement in Lake Tahoe at the time, and Richie is also busy recording “In The Pocket”, his final album with the Commodores. The two arrange to record their vocals at a small recording studio in Reno, NV, only fifty miles away from the casino where Ross is performing. The two begin recording their vocals at 3:30 in morning and within an hour and a half complete their work on the track. Though the film itself is not well received, the title song is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #54 on July 11, 1981, it leaps to the top of the chart five weeks later. “Endless Love” receives an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song, with Diana Ross and Lionel Richie performing the song on the live Oscar telecast in 1982. The song becomes a major hit once again when it is covered by Luther Vandross and Mariah Carey in 1994 (#2 Pop, #7 R&B).“Endless Love” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 5, 1989 – “On Our Own” by Bobby Brown hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on the same date. Written by L.A. Reid, Babyface and Daryl Simmons, it is the fifth R&B chart topper for Boston, MA born vocalist. While his multi-platinum second album “Don’t Be Cruel” is still riding the charts, Bobby Brown is asked to write a song for the soundtrack for "Ghostbusters II", the sequel to the 1984 mega blockbuster film. Brown comes up with a song titled “We’re Back”, that the film producers like, but don’t feel that it’s suitable to be used over the films title sequence. As principle photography is wrapping, producers L.A. & Babyface, who had written and produced much of Brown’s second album, are called to write another song for Bobby. The pair offer, “On Our Own”, co-written with frequent collaborator Daryl Simmons. The song had originally been intended for Babyface’s second solo album “Tender Lover” but was not used on the project. The lyrics are partially re-written to fit well into “Ghostbusters II”. By coincidence, this is the second time that a song originally for Babyface had been passed on to Brown, having also recorded “Every Little Step” (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) for “Don’t Be Cruel”. Bobby Brown also has a small role in the film the mayor of New York City’s doorman. Released as the first single from the “Ghostbusters II” soundtrack on May 30, 1989, it is an immediate hit, and is Brown’s fifth number one single on the R&B chart. It just misses being his second number one on the pop chart, spending three weeks at number two, behind Prince’s “Batdance” and Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting”. “On Our Own” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 2, 1986 – “Glory Of Love (Theme From The Karate Kid Part II)” by Peter Cetera hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 5 weeks on July 19, 1986. Written by Peter Cetera, David Foster and Diane Nini, it is the first solo chart topper for the singer, songwriter and musician from Chicago, IL. After spending seventeen years as the bassist, vocalist and co-founding member of the legendary rock band Chicago, Peter Cetera leaves for a solo career. Cetera’s departure in the Summer of 1985 comes after tensions between the band members arise when the bassist becomes the visual and media focal point of the band. While working on his second solo album, the singer is approached by United Artists executives Jerry and Bob Greenberg who ask Cetera if he will do a song for “The Karate Kid II”, the sequel to the hit 1984 film starring Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. Cetera agrees, and after playing them one song that they aren’t interested in, he plays them part of an incomplete song. The Greenbergs love what they hear and ask Peter to finish it for the film. But when writer’s block keeps him from finishing the song, Cetera plays it for his then wife Diane, who thinks he’s singing “the glory of love” when first hearing it. She writes the rest of the lyrics, and Peter puts down his vocals in the studio. Released as the first single from the “Karate Kid II” soundtrack and Peter Cetera’s album “Solitude/Solitaire” in May of 1986, it quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #62 on June 7, 1986, it races to the top of the chart eight weeks later. Warner Bros Records also issues the US 45 with two variants of the picture sleeve. One features a color photo of Cetera (taken by famed fashion photographer Herb Ritts) with his name printed in a reddish orange tint on the front. A rarer variation is also issued with the same photo printed in black and white, with the graphics in a lime green tint. “Glory Of Love” is nominated for the Golden Globe and the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1987, and a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.