Born on this day: September 6, 1971 – Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries (born Dolores Mary Eileen O’Riordan in Limerick, Ireland). Happy Birthday to Dolores on what would have been her 48th Birthday.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1988 – “Hangin’ Tough”, the second album by New Kids On The Block is released. Produced by Maurice Starr, it is recorded at Mission Control in Westford, MA, The House Of Hits in Boston, MA and Normandy Sound Studios in Warren, RI from Mid 1987 – Mid 1988. After parting ways with New Edition in 1984, producer Maurice Starr vows to put together another successful group. This time out, Starr seeks out five white teenagers in his hometown of Boston. The first person he finds is Donnie Wahlberg, who then brings in friends Danny Wood, Jamie Kelly, and brothers Jordan and Jonathan Knight. Kelly is replaced by Donnie’s brother Mark, who also leaves and is replaced by Joey McIntyre. Originally known as Nynuk, their name is changed to New Kids On The Block. Originally signed to R&B division of Columbia Records by industry vet Cecil Holmes (Chocolate City Records), the group release their self-titled debut album in April of 1986. It is a dismal failure, initially selling only 6,000 copies. Starr pleads with Columbia to allow him to record a second album, and the label agrees to give him another chance. Dissatisfied with their debut, the boys push for more creative input. The second album “Hangin’ Tough” is proceeded by the single “Please Don’t Go Girl” (#10 Pop, #55 R&B), released in June of 1988. Initially, it looks like it will meet the same fate as their first album. They catch a major break when a radio station in Florida spins it, and garners an enthusiastic response. Columbia reverses their decision to drop the group. “Girl” becomes their first major hit in the Fall of 1988. After that, the flood gates open with “You Got It (The Right Stuff)” (#3 Pop, #28 R&B). “Hangin’” spins off three more hits including “I’ll Be Loving You (Forever)” (#1 Pop, #12 R&B, #3 AC), the title track (#1 Pop), and “Cover Girl” (#2 Pop). Their cover of The Delfonics’ “Didn’t I (Blow Your Mind)” (#8 Pop, #34 R&B, #12 AC) the B-side of “Hangin’ Tough”, becomes another hit. It’s the first time in nearly a decade, where individual sides of the same single, reach the Billboard pop top ten. It revives their debut album, selling over three million copies. New Kids also become a merchandising juggernaut, with everything from T-shirts, to lunchboxes and dolls baring their likeness. Like The Jackson 5 and The Osmonds before them, are also spun off into their own cartoon series. The New Kids also inspire the “Boy Band” craze, led by The Backstreet Boys and N-Sync. “Hangin’ Tough” is remastered and reissued on CD (and as a vinyl picture disc) for its thirtieth anniversary in 2019, featuring eight additional bonus tracks. “Hangin’ Tough” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, peaking at number forty on the R&B album chart, and is certified 8x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1986 – “Venus” by Bananarama hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Robbie Van Leeuwen, it is the biggest hit for the London based female vocal trio. Originally formed in 1979, Bananarama consists of childhood friends Keren Woodward and Sara Dallin, who meets Siohban Fahey when all three are college students. All have an avid interest in music, and are immersed in the punk rock and post punk scenes in London in the late 70’s and early 80’s, performing as an opening act, or singing backing vocals for numerous artists including The Jam and Iggy Pop. The trio become roommates, living above a rehearsal space used by former Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook. Jones and Cook help the girls record a demo for the song “Aie a Mwana” (#92 UK Pop) which get them signed to Demon Records who release it as a single. It is enough of a hit to attract the attention of Decca Records who sign Bananarama in 1982. They have a string of top five hits in their native country, which also garners them a cult following in the US. They finally score a major hit in the US in the Fall of 1984, after their single “Cruel Summer” (#9 Pop), is featured in the film “The Karate Kid”. For their third album, Bananarama pair up with the production team of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman (Stock, Aitken & Waterman) after hearing their work on Dead Or Alive’s number one UK single “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)”. The team produce two tracks for their album “True Confessions”. The group cover the pop classic “Venus”, originally recorded by the Dutch band The Shocking Blue, whose original version is a huge worldwide hit in late 1969/early 1970 hitting number one in the US in February of 1970. Bananarama’s version is released in early June of 1986, and quickly takes off. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on June 28, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later. When “Venus hits the top of the charts, it is only the fourth time in the history of the rock era that the same song has hit number one on the US pop singles chart by two different artists. The Bananarama version of "Venus” is later used in an episode of the animated series “American Dad!” in 2009. Titled “Moon Over Isla Island”, the song is declared the national anthem of a “banana republic” island also re-named Bananarama (making it a double in-joke), by Roger who is posing as the country’s dictator after the real one dies from accidentally choking to death on a corn dog.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1986 – “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent” by Gwen Guthrie hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Club Play chart for 2 weeks on August 23, 1986. Written by Gwen Guthrie, it is the biggest hit for the R&B singer and songwriter from Newark, NJ. Born in small town in rural Oklahoma, Gwen Guthrie’s family will relocate to Newark, NJ while she is a child. Coming from a musical household, she’ll learn piano from her father and study classical music in school, and sing in various vocal groups. Guthrie attends college and train to become a schoolteacher, but fate will intervene, and she gets her big break in the music business. In 1974, Gwen is asked to sing background vocals for Aretha Franklin on the song “I’m In Love” (#1 R&B, #19 Pop). Singing along side established veterans including Cissy Houston, Guthrie makes an immediate impression, leading to more lucrative work as a background vocalist and commercial jingle singer. During this time, she co-writes Ben E. King’s comeback hit “Supernatural Thing” (#1 R&B, #5 Pop) and “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter” (#23 R&B, #104 Pop), becoming the first hit for singer Angela Bofill. Guthrie’s work with innovative producer/musicians Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare in the early 80’s puts her on the map as a solo vocal star while signed to Island Records, as will her collaborations with club DJ icon Larry Levan, who remixes the classic “Padlock”. Signed to Polydor Records in early 1986, Gwen Guthrie begins work on her first album for the label with David “Pic” Conley of the R&B group Surface. The inspiration for her biggest hit comes from Guthrie’s grandfather, who would often reply with the phrase “ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent” when someone would ask him what was going on with him. That hook along with the lyric “no romance without finance” makes the song an anthem for many women, though many men misconstrue the lyrics as women “being materialistic”, instead of the actual message of both parties being on equal footing in a relationship. Regardless, the song becomes an instant club classic, rising up the R&B and dance charts simultaneously. Larry Levan also remixes the 7" and 12" versions of “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ On But The Rent”. “Rent” attains further pop cultural status when comedian Eddie Murphy quotes lyrics from the song in his 1987 concert film “Raw”.
Born on this day: September 6, 1947 – Disco and Hi-NRG music icon Sylvester (born Sylvester James in Los Angeles, CA). Happy Birthday to this one of a kind vocalist on what would have been his 72nd Birthday.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1980 – “Upside Down” by Diana Ross hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 4 weeks on August 16, 1980. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the fifth solo chart topper for the Motown superstar. When producers Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers sign on to work with Diana Ross, they meet the singer at her apartment in New York City. During the several hours they talk to her, she speaks of wanting her record to sound like nothing she’s done before, wanting to make a break with her past both musically and personally. Edwards and Rodgers leave the meeting inspired, and quickly write an entire albums’ worth of material for Ross. Originally titled “The Work Song”, “Upside Down” is inspired by their conversation, being about a woman who is deeply in love with a man who she’s aware isn’t faithful to her, but can’t let go of him. The song is rumored to be about either actor Ryan O’Neal or musician Gene Simmons of the band KISS, both of whom Ross had dated during this period. One of the first tracks recorded for the “diana” album, the basic track and vocals for “Upside Down” are recorded in November of 1979. When the album is released in May of 1980, initially “I’m Coming Out” (#5 Pop, #6 R&B) is chosen to be the first single, but Motown abruptly cancels its release (issuing it as the second single on August 22, 1980) and issues “Upside Down” instead on June 25, 1980. Entering the Hot 100 at #82 on July 12, 1980, the record at first struggles up the chart, taking a month to crack the Top 50. Then on August 9, 1980, the record suddenly pole vaults from #49 to #10 in a single week. Four weeks after that, it makes its final ascent to the top the chart. The funky, groove laden “Upside Down” becomes one of Diana Ross’ biggest and most enduring hits, earning her a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female in 1981. In 1997, the song is sampled as the basis for the remix version of MC Lyte’s hit “Cold Rock A Party”. “Upside Down” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1979 – “Ladies’ Night”, the eleventh album by Kool & The Gang is released. Produced by Eumir Deodato, it is recorded at House Of Music in West Orange, NJ and Media Sound Studios in New York City from Early – Mid 1979. A consistent presence on the charts throughout much of the 70’s, by the later part of the decade, Kool & The Gang find themselves at a major career crossroads. The New Jersey based R&B/Funk band’s unique sound begins to fall out of favor, when the Disco phenomenon sweeps the musical landscape. And without a regular lead singer to hold the public’s focus, they realize that they need to reinvent themselves. Kool & The Gang hire South Carolina born James “J.T.” Taylor, to become their front man. A few other things take place during this time that change the course of the band’s career. Their single “Open Sesame” is featured on the Grammy winning mega soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever”, helps keep them in the public eye. Also, their label De-Lite Records changes distribution from independent Pickwick International, to Polygram. With the backing of a major behind them, Kool & The Gang also understand they have to evolve their sound as well. They are paired with Brazilian born jazz musician and arranger Eumir Deodato to produce them. Famed for his Grammy winning jazz/funk classic “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)”, Deodato helps the band re-tool their sound. It marks the beginning of a highly successful collaboration, that lasts over the course of four Gold and Platinum selling albums. Kool & The Gang hit pay dirt immediately with the album “Ladies’ Night”. The title track (#1 R&B, #8 Pop, #5 Club Play) issued as the first single in August of 1979, is a perfect hybrid of R&B, pop and disco that proves to be irresistible to a wide mainstream audience. It is followed up by “Too Hot” (#3 R&B, #5 Pop, #5 Club Play, #11 AC) in January 1980. Initially issued as the B-side of “Ladies’ Night”, “Too Hot” is reissued as an A-side. The single is another across the board, multi-format smash. The album spins off a third and final single with “Hangin’ Out” (#36 R&B, #103 Pop). Though there is some grumbling from the band’s original fans that they have “sold out to disco and commerciality”, “Ladies’ Night” sets the template for massive success the band enjoy for the next eight years. Originally released on CD in 1986, it is reissued numerous times over the years. Most recently, it is remastered and reissued by Big Break Records in 2013. The expanded reissue contains the original six track album, with six additional bonus tracks, including the original 12" and single edits of the singles. “Ladies’ Night” spends two weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number thirteen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1975 – “Red Octopus”, the third album (twelfth overall) by Jefferson Starship hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for 4 weeks (non-consecutive). Produced by Jefferson Starship and Larry Cox, it is recorded at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, CA in February 1975. The album marks the full time return of vocalist Marty Balin who had left the band (while still named Jefferson Airplane) in 1971. Led by the Balin penned single “Miracles” (#3 Pop), the album becomes the best selling title of any of the San Francisco bands incarnations (Jefferson Airplane or Starship). Original LP pressings feature the cover graphics printed in reflective gold ink, which is changed to a flat black color on subsequent reissues to save on printing costs. The album is also remixed into quadraphonic stereo at the time of its original release. “Octopus” is remastered and reissued on CD in 2005 using safety copies, since the original first generation masters have deteriorated beyond use. The reissue contains five bonus tracks, including the single edit of “Miracles” and four previously unreleased live tracks recorded at Winterland in San Francisco in November of 1975. “Red Octopus” is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1975 – “How Long (Betcha’ Got A Chick On The Side)” by The Pointer Sisters hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #20 on the Hot 100 on October 4, 1975. Written by Anita Pointer, Bonnie Pointer, June Pointer, Ruth Pointer and David Rubinson, it is the lone R&B chart topper for the family vocal quartet from Oakland, CA. The daughters of a pastor, sisters Anita, Bonnie, June and Ruth Pointer grow up singing gospel in their father’s church in West Oakland. They were discouraged from listening to or singing rock & roll or R&B music, being told that it was “the devil’s music” by their strict parents. However, the pull of secular music proves to be too strong, and the girls become fixtures on the San Francisco Bay Area music scene by the early 1970’s, singing background vocals for prominent artists including Elvin Bishop and Boz Scaggs. The group land a deal with Atlantic Records in 1971, but their tenure with the label is short lived, and are dropped soon after. The Pointers connect producer David Rubinson, helping the sisters get back home when they are stranded in Austin, TX after another record deal goes terribly wrong. Rubinson becomes their manager, securing them a record deal with Blue Thumb Records in 1973. Their self-titled debut album is a solid hit, spinning off their first major hit with “Yes We Can Can” (#12 R&B, #11 Pop). The Pointer Sisters third album “Steppin’” in 1975 yields their biggest R&B chart hit. The idea for what becomes “How Long (Betcha’ Got A Chick On The Side)” comes from a few different sources. Anita had written the beginnings of a country song called “How Long”, when Rubinson comes up with the counter hook “betcha got a chick on the side”, with its signature syncopated rhythm being inspired by blues musician Taj Mahal’s distinctive vocal style. A song by John Lee Hooker titled “Homework”. Released as a single in May of 1975, “How Long” quickly rises up the R&B and pop charts, becoming one of The Pointer Sisters’ signature hits, as well as one of their most covered songs. Various artists including drummer Buddy Rich, rappers Salt ‘N’ Pepa, and Queen Latifah record versions of the song. Comedian Bill Cosby records an answer parody titled “Chick On The Side” on his album “Bill Cosby Is Not Himself These Days Rat Own, Rat Own, Rat Own” in 1976.
On this day in music history: September 6, 1975 – “Rhinestone Cowboy” by Glen Campbell hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Country chart for 3 weeks (non-consecutive) on August 23, 1975. Written by Larry Weiss, it is the first pop chart topper for the veteran studio musician turned country/pop superstar. A well established songwriter since the early 60’s Larry Weiss has co-written several major hits for other artists, including The American Breed’s “Bend Me, Shape Me” (#5 Pop) and R&B singer Jerry Butler’s “Mr. Dream Merchant (#23 R&B, #38 Pop), before becoming a recording artist in his own right. Weiss is signed to 20th Century Records in 1974, recording his debut album "Black & Blue Suite”. The song “Rhinestone Cowboy” is released as a single, but does not attract any significant attention, except from Adult Contemporary radio, where the song peaks at #24 on that chart. Glen Campbell hears Weiss’ original version while on a tour of Australia in late 1974. Liking what he hears, Campbell records it shortly after in Los Angeles with producers Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter (The Four Tops, The Righteous Brothers). Entering the Hot 100 at #81, climbing to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. On the country singles chart, “Rhinestone” spends two consecutive weeks at the top before being displaced by “Feelins” by Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn for one week. Surprisingly it rebounds and returns to the top for one more week on September 13, 1975. “Rhinestone Cowboy” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.