Category: pop

On this day in music history: May 22, 1981 – &…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1981 – “It Must Be Magic”, the fourth album by Teena Marie is released. Produced by Teena Marie, it is recorded at Motown Hitsville U.S.A. Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA and Wanderland Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA from Late 1980 – Early 1981. With her previous album “Irons In The Fire” still on the charts, Teena Marie begins work on her fourth release. She utilizes the members of her touring band including Allen McGrier (bass), Paul Hines (drums), James S. Stewart (keyboard), Jill Jones and Mickey Hearn (backing vocals). Marie is also supported in the studio by Patrice Rushen (keyboards), Gerald Albright (saxophone), Bill Wolfer (synthesizer), Temptations members Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, Stone City Band Members Oscar Alston (bass), Tom McDermott (guitar), Daniel LeMelle (saxophone), and Marie’s friend and mentor Rick James (vocals). The first single “Square Biz” (#3 R&B, #12 Club Play, #50 Pop) co-written with McGrier is an immediate smash becoming Teena’s biggest single to date. It is also unique in that it is one of the first R&B songs to feature rap verses, at a time when rap is still considered by many to be a novelty. The title track “It Must Be Magic” (#30 R&B), features The Temptations’ Melvin Franklin reprising his spoken vocal from The Marvelettes’ 1967 single “My Baby Must Be A Magician”. The third single “Portuguese Love” (#54 R&B) becomes a Quiet Storm radio classic and a fan favorite. The album ascends to the runner up spot on the R&B chart, ironically behind Rick James’ “Street Songs”. In spite of the success, it also marks the beginning of the end of her relationship with Motown Records. The singer has issues with the label over her contract and royalty payments. Hiring attorney Don Engel to represent her, Teena looks to be released from her contract. The ensuing legal battle between both sides results in “The Brockert Initiative”, a precedent setting piece of legal legislation. It makes it illegal for a record label, to hold an artist under contract without releasing new material, or allowing that artist to leave and sign with another label. Eventually she is released from Motown, and signs with Epic Records in 1983. First released on CD in 1986, it is remastered and reissued in 2002, with liner notes by A Scott Galloway. The 12" mix of “Square Biz” replaces the slightly shorter LP version, and includes three additional bonus tracks including the instrumental mix of “Biz” and two live tracks recorded at the Long Beach Arena on July 30, 1981. The original nine track album is remastered and reissued in Japan in 2013 as an SHM-CD, packaged in a mini-LP sleeve. “It Must Be Magic” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty three on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 22, 1980 – “…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1980 – “diana”, the eleventh studio album by Diana Ross is released. Produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is recorded at The Power Station, Electric Lady Studios in New York City, and Motown/Hitsville USA Studios in Hollywood, CA from November 1979 – April 1980. Motown superstar Diana Ross approaches Edwards and Rodgers about producing her, after her children take her to see Chic at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. Never having worked with a major artist before, the producers agree to do the project. Sessions are arduous, as they clash with the singer over their working methods. The situation comes to a head during one vocal session, when Edwards tells Ross she’s singing flat. She storms out of the studio, and goes the south of France for several weeks. After the sessions resume, she expresses her unhappiness with the way the album is initially mixed. The producers make some slight alterations and then tell her that if she still isn’t happy, she can remix them herself. With veteran Motown mix engineer Russ Terrana, Ross remixes the entire album, which creates more friction between both sides. So much so, that Edwards and Rodgers nearly ask to have their names removed from the credits. Fortunately cooler heads prevail, and producers credit remains intact, though they insist that Ross and Terrana be credited for the remixes. In spite of all of the behind the scenes drama, the album is ecstatically received by the public, becoming the Motown superstar’s most successful release ever. Fans and critics are further taken aback by the striking black and white cover photo, taken by legendary fashion photographer Francesco Scavullo (Seventeen, Cosmopolitan). Instead of the normally high glamour look Ross is known for, she is shown on the front cover with her natural length hair, wet and swept back, wearing a white top and blue jeans (borrowed from model Gia Carangi). The albums stark cover photo is contrasted, with a casual, glossy inner gatefold photo taken by famed photographer Douglas Kirkland (Look, Life Magazine). It spins off the hits “Upside Down” (#1 Pop & R&B), I’m Coming Out" (#5 Pop, #6 R&B), and a third in the UK (“My Old Piano” #5 UK). It is remastered and reissued in 2003 as a two CD Deluxe Edition with the original “Chic Mix” being released for the first time. The second disc features rare and unreleased remixes of several Diana Ross dance floor classics. The CD booklet also features annotation by former Record World and Billboard dance music columnist Brian Chin. In April of 2017, the “Chic Mix” is issued as a double vinyl LP set, pressed on translucent pink vinyl. “diana” spends eight weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 22, 1976 – “…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1976 – “Kiss And Say Goodbye” by The Manhattans hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also topping the Hot 100 for 2 weeks on July 24, 1976. Written by Winfred “Blue” Lovett, it is the biggest hit for the Jersey City, NJ based R&B vocal quintet. The group actually record two versions of the song. The first version, cut with the groups backing band Little Harlem catches the attention of producer/arranger Bobby Martin (L.T.D., Tavares), who re-records the song with the group at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia with members of the band MFSB. An immediate smash on black radio, the single crosses over top pop radio, hitting the top of the Hot 100. “Kiss And Say Goodbye” becomes the second single in music history to hit the Platinum mark in sales (for sales of over two million copies), following Johnnie Taylor’s “Disco Lady”, which is the first to be officially certified for that sales plateau. An alternate version of “Kiss And Say Goodbye” is recorded that features a risque spoken intro that is excised from commercial copies of the single and album, and is mixed into mono only. This version is distributed on an extremely limited basis to select radio stations in the US. “Kiss And Say Goodbye” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 22, 1976 – &…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1976 – “Silly Love Songs” by Wings hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks (non-consecutive), also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 1 week on May 29, 1976. Written and produced by Paul McCartney, it is the fifth solo chart topper for the former Beatle. McCartney writes the song in response to critics who often chide him, feeling that his solo work is “lightweight” in comparison to his Beatles era material. Released on April 1, 1976, it is issued as the first single from Wings’ fifth studio album “Wings At The Speed Of Sound”, becoming an instant smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #58 on April 10, 1976, it leaps to the top of the singles chart just six weeks later. After one week on top, it is temporarily bumped from the top spot by Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover” for two weeks on May 29, 1976. The single then rebounds and returns to the top for four more weeks on June 12, 1976. McCartney re-records “Silly Love Songs” in a dramatically revamped version for the film “Give My Regards To Broad Street” in 1984, that features Brothers Johnson bassist Louis Johnson on bass. “Silly Love Songs” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: May 22, 1975 – “…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1975 – “Adventures In Paradise”, the third album by Minnie Riperton is released. Produced by Stewart Levine, Minnie Riperton and Richard Rudolph, it is recorded at Wally Heider 3 Studios in Los Angeles, CA from January – March 1975. Just as she is experiencing the breakthrough success of her second album “Perfect Angel” and the single “Lovin’ You” headed toward number one, Minnie Riperton begins working on the follow up album. With Stevie Wonder being pre-occupied with work on his magnum opus “Songs In The Key Of Life”, he is not able to co-produce with Riperton and her husband, musician Richard Rudolph. Instead, they work with Crusaders producer Stewart Levine on the new project. In between, Minnie meets singer and songwriter Leon Ware, while both are working on Quincy Jones’ “Mellow Madness” album. Hitting it off immediately, Ware, Riperton and Rudolph write three songs together for Minnie’s new album. Co-producer Levine assembles an outstanding team of first call musicians to play on the sessions including Crusaders keyboardist Joe Sample, saxophonist Tom Scott, Jim Gordon (drums), Dean Parks, Larry Carlton (guitar), Jim Horn (saxophone), and Dorothy Ashby (harp). Released right on the heels of “Perfect Angel”, the jazzy, soulful, and sensual album becomes a favorite of Riperton’s fans, though it is less commercially successful than its predecessor. It spins off two singles including the classic “Inside My Love” (#26 R&B, #76 Pop), which meets with resistance from numerous radio stations feeling that it is “too suggestive” for daytime radio play. “Paradise” becomes a cult classic and highly sought after album in later years when A Tribe Called Quest samples the track “Baby This Love I Have” as the basis of their iconic single “Check The Rhime” in 1991. Minnie’s original version of “Inside My Love” is featured on the soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s film “Jackie Brown” in 1997, while R&B singer Chante Moore covers the song for the “New York Undercover” soundtrack two years earlier in 1995. R&B vocalist Trina Broussard also covers “Inside” for the “Love Jones” soundtrack in 1997. Timbaland also samples “Baby This Love” for Aaliyah’s song “Heartbroken” in 1996. Shortly after the album is released, a TV spot recreating the cover shot is filmed. Using a different lion than the one used previously, it jumps on Riperton, but she is unhurt in the incident. “Adventures In Paradise” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, and number eighteen on the Top 200.

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On this day in music history: May 22, 1965 – &…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1965 – “I’ll Be Doggone” by Marvin Gaye hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #8 on the Hot 100 on May 15, 1965. Written by William “Smokey” Robinson, Warren “Pete” Moore and Marv Tarplin, it is the first R&B chart topper for Motown superstar. After working mostly with Mickey Stevenson or Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, Marvin Gaye is paired with Smokey Robinson for the first time in early 1965. Miracles guitarist Marv Tarplin comes up with the basic structure of the song including its hook, while Robinson and Moore write the lyrics. The track is cut at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit on January 21, 1965, and features The Funk Brothers playing on the rhythm track. Gaye record his vocals four days after the initial tracking session on January 25, 1965, with The Miracles themselves providing the background vocals along with Motown’s in-house background vocal group The Andantes. The strings, provided by members of the Detroit Symphony are overdubbed on January 29, 1965. Released on February 26, 1965, it quickly rises up the R&B and pop singles charts. “I’ll Be Doggone” is Marvin Gaye’s first million selling single and the first of thirteen R&B chart toppers he has over the next eighteen years.

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On this day in music history: May 22, 1965 – &…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1965 – “Ticket To Ride” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the eighth number one single in the US for “The Fab Four”. Written primarily by John Lennon, the song carries a dual meaning. In part, it is a play on the phrase “ticket to Ryde”, meaning a British Railways ticket to the town of Ryde on the Isle Of Wight in England. Lennon also makes it a sly reference to The Beatles days of performing in Hamburg, Germany. In this case, the “tickets” being cards carried by prostitutes indicating they had been given a clean bill of health, with “ride or riding” being a euphemism for sexual intercourse. The track is recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London on February 15, 1965, and features Paul McCartney playing lead guitar on a Beatles single for the first time. McCartney is also instrumental in arranging the songs unique rhythm pattern, suggesting it to Ringo Starr. Released on April 9, 1965, it is the first release from the bands second film “Help!”, set to be released in July. However, when the record is released in the US, Capitol Records erroneously lists on the label that the song is from the film “Eight Arms To Hold You” which is the original working title of the film while it is in production. The single is also backed with the initially non-LP B-side “Yes It Is”, recorded the day after “Ride” on February 16, 1965. The song is added to the US album “Beatles VI” in June of 1965, though in the UK it does not surface on an album until the release of the compilation “Love Songs” in 1977. Entering the Hot 100 at #59 on April 24, 1965, “Ticket To Ride” streaks to the top of the chart four weeks later. “Ticket To Ride” is covered by The Carpenters on their 1969 debut album “Offering”, and becomes their first chart single.  The album is re-titled “Ticket To Ride” in late 1970 after the group makes their breakthrough with the single “(They Long To Be) Close To You”. The original Capitol US 45 release is reissued in 2011 as part of a promotion through retail chain Target, in tandem with the remastered reissue of the compilation “Beatles 1”. The limited edition box contains a replica of the 45 and picture sleeve, and a T-shirt.

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On this day in music history: May 22, 1961 – &…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1961 – “Mother-In-Law” by Ernie K. Doe hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 5 weeks on April 24, 1961. Written and produced by Allen Toussaint, it is the biggest hit for the New Orleans born and raised singer. Doe (real name Ernest Kador, Jr.) actually rescues the song from the trash after Toussaint throws it away, feeling that it isn’t any good. The song is especially relatable to the singer since he is having problems with his own mother in law at the time. “Mother-In-Law” features fellow New Orleans R&B singer Benny Spellman (“Fortune Teller”, “Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette)”) singing the deep bass vocals on the track, and Allen Toussaint playing piano. Entering the Hot 100 at #55 on March 27, 1961, it climbs to the top of the chart eight weeks later. “Mother-In-Law” is Ernie K. Doe’s only major hit, only scoring one more chart entry with “Popeye Joe” (#99 Pop) in January of 1962.

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On this day in music history: May 22, 1958 – M…

On this day in music history: May 22, 1958 – Musician Jerry Lee Lewis arrives in London to play a twenty seven date tour of the UK. While meeting the press at Heathrow Airport, a reporter from The Daily Mail asks a young girl with the entourage who she is, and replies “I’m Myra, Jerry’s wife”. The girl in question is Myra Gale Brown, the daughter of Lewis’ bass player Jay Brown. Not only do the press find out that Myra is Lewis’ thirteen year old first cousin (once removed), but that when the then twenty two year old musician had married her five months earlier (in December of 1957), while he was still legally married to his second wife. A immediate media firestorm erupts as a result of this discovery. When Lewis tries to continue the tour, his concerts are greeted with sparse attendance, and by boos and catcalls from the people who do show up. After less than a week, the remainder of the tour is cancelled and Lewis returns home to the US. By this time, news about the British media’s discovery has spread to the US press. Jerry Lee Lewis is almost completely blacklisted by American radio and television as a result of the news. Overnight, Lewis goes from playing top venues commanding up to $10,000 a night, to playing small clubs and bars for as little as $250 a night. The musician’s career never fully recovers from the scandal. Lewis and Brown have two children, a son (Steve Allen) and a daughter (Phoebe Allen). Their son drowns in the family swimming pool in in 1962 at the age of three. Jerry and Myra remain married for thirteen years before divorcing in December of 1970.

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On this day in music history: May 21, 1988 – &…

On this day in music history: May 21, 1988 – “Mercedes Boy” by Pebbles hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on July 9, 1988. Written by Pebbles, it is the second consecutive R&B chart topper from the Oakland, CA born and raised singer (birth name: Perri Arnette McKissack). Having previously worked as a background singer (as a teenager) for Bay Area based bands Con Funk Shun and Bill Summers & Summers Heat, Pebbles gets her big break as a solo artist when KSOL program director Marvin Robinson introduces the singer to MCA Records black music executives Jheryl Busby and Louil Silas, Jr, who immediately sign her to the label. Pebbles writes the song about a guy that she meets and falls in love with while in high school. Both are dating other people at the time, and maintain only a platonic friendship. Referring to him as her “Mercedes Boy” comes from the fact that both of them own and drive the German luxury automobile. However, the two will not get together until five years after first meeting each other. Once she is signed to MCA, Gap Band lead vocalist Charlie Wilson is paired with Pebbles to produce “Mercedes Boy”. Issued as the follow up to her debut smash “Girlfriend” (#1 R&B, #5 Pop) in April of 1988, “Mercedes Boy” follows a similar trajectory up the pop and R&B singles charts. The success of the single drives her debut album “Pebbles” to Platinum status in the US.

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