On this day in music history: March 29, 1975 – “Lady Marmalade” by LaBelle hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on February 22, 1975. Written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, it is the biggest hit for the R&B vocal trio featuring Patti LaBelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash. The song is originally recorded by The Eleventh Hour, a studio group fronted by singer and songwriter Kenny Nolan (“I Like Dreamin’), co-written with Four Seasons songwriter and producer Bob Crewe earlier in 1974. Producer Allen Toussaint hears the original version, and records the song with LaBelle for their first Epic Records album "Nightbirds”. Featuring The Meters providing musical support, it is released as the first single from the album on November 5, 1974. Becoming a dance floor smash in discos, the electrifying track soon makes its way on to R&B and pop radio. Entering the Hot 100 at #98 on January 4, 1975, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The song is re-recorded in by Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil’ Kim, Mya, & Missy Elliott for the Baz Lurhmann film “Moulin Rouge”. They take the song to number one (for 5 weeks) again in June of 2001, winning a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals in 2002. Regarded as a 70’s classic, LaBelle’s version is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2003. “Lady Marmalade” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 28, 2000 – “Romeo Must Die: The Album” is released. Produced by Timbaland, Ant Banks, Irv Gotti, Lil’ Rob, Joe Thomas, Joshua Thompson, Donnie Scantz, Kevin Hicks, B-12, Playa, Eric Seats, Rapture Stewart and Stanley Clarke, it is recorded at Manhattan Center Studios, The Hit Factory, Right Track Recording Studios, Soundtrack Studios, Battery Studios in New York City, Front Page Recorders in Glendale, CA, Soundcastle Studios in Los Angeles, CA, The Hit Factory Criteria Studios in Miami, FL and Mastersound Studios in Virginia Beach, VA from Early – Late 1999. It serves as the soundtrack to the martial arts action thriller starring Jet Li and is the film debut for R&B singer/actress Aaliyah. The R&B and Hip Hop based compilation features tracks by Destiny’s Child, Ginuwine, Mack 10, Chante Moore, Joe, and two tracks from Aaliyah including the hits “Come Back in One Piece” (featuring DMX), and “Try Again” (#1 Pop, #4 R&B). “Romeo Must Die: The Album” spends one week at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, number three on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 27, 1965 – “Stop! In The Name Of Love” by The Supremes hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland, it is the fourth consecutive chart topping single for the Motown vocal trio featuring Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson. “Stop! In The Name Of Love” is inspired by an argument that Lamont Dozier has with his girlfriend, when he inadvertently blurts out the phrase in the middle of the squabble. The two laugh at what is said and stop arguing. Later, Dozier tells his writing partners about the incident and they write the song about a woman pleading with her man to remain faithful, and not to stray from their relationship. Recorded on January 5, 1965 at Motown’s Studio A in Detroit with The Funk Brothers providing the musical backing, The Supremes add their vocals on January 11, 1965. Shortly after the song is released on February 8, 1965, The Supremes along with several of Motown’s major acts travel to England for a major tour of the country as well as a make an appearance on the popular music series “Ready Steady Go!”. It is on that show that The Supremes debut the signature choreography for “Stop!” with one hand on their hip and the other hand outstretched in a “stop” gesture. Paul Williams and Melvin Franklin of The Temptations come up with the choreography and teach it to the girls prior to the programs taping. Meanwhile, back at home, the single becomes another instant smash for The Supremes. Entering the Hot 100 at #80 on February 20, 1965, it streaks to the top of the chart five weeks later. “Stop! In The Name Of Love” alsos receive a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Group Performance in 1966, but loses to The Statler Brothers’ “Flowers On The Wall”. Regarded as a career defining hit for The Supremes, the single is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2001. In 2000, a previously unreleased alternate version of “Stop!” is released on The Supremes’ eponymously titled box set. Running nearly three and half minutes, this other version features foot stomps on the intro and throughout the track like “Where Did Our Love” and “Baby Love”. It also features different lead and background vocals, with Diana Ross singing different lyrics from the officially released version in places. “Stop! In The Name Of Love” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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On this day in music history: December 9, 1972 – “Me And Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 3 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 3 weeks on December 16, 1972. Written by Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and Cary Gilbert, it is the biggest hit for the Philadelphia, PA born R&B/Jazz singer. Gamble and Huff meet Paul at a local Philadelphia club in 1967 and begin working together shortly afterward. After several attempts to write a hit for the singer fail, they finally come up with a song that perfectly balances R&B and pop with Billy’s jazz vocal style. Recorded at Sigma Sound Studios with members of MFSB and arranged by Bobby Martin, it is the first single from Paul’s album “360 Degrees Of Billy Paul” on September 13, 1972. The song about an extramarital affair is the third R&B chart topper, and first number pop single for the fledgling Philadelphia International label. The single wins Paul a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1973. Songwriters Gamble, Huff and Gilbert also later collaborate on “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, originally writing it for Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in 1975. A cover version by Thelma Houston becomes a worldwide hit, topping the pop and R&B singles charts in 1977. It is also covered by The Dramatics and by Michael Buble. In 2000, Billy Paul’s original recording is used in a television commercial for Nike sportswear featuring track star Marion Jones. At the time, Paul had not received any royalty payments on the song in twenty seven years. He files a lawsuit against Gamble & Huff, their publishing company Assorted Music, Inc. and Sony Music Entertainment for back royalties. He wins the lawsuit and receives a sizable settlement and future royalties generated by his version of the song. Regarded as not only one of the greatest “Philly Soul” records of all time, but one of the best singles of the 70’s, “Me And Mrs. Jones” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2018. “Me And Mrs. Jones” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: December 9, 1962 – “Meet The Supremes”, the debut album by The Supremes is released. Produced by Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Raynoma Liles, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from October 1960 – September 1962. It features the first four singles released by the group during 1961 and 1962, including “I Want A Guy”, “Let Me Go The Right Way”, “Buttered Popcorn”, and “Your Heart Belongs To Me”. All fare poorly on the charts which lead people around Motown to dub them the “no hit” Supremes, in spite of the labels’ best writers and producers efforts to come up with a hit single for the group. “Meet” is reissued in early 1965 (originally issued in mono only) it is remixed in true stereo with different cover artwork, after their breakthrough success with the “Where Did Our Love Go? album”. Original copies of “Meet The Supremes” are among the rarest of the early Motown LP’s and command up to $500 for a near mint copy today. In 2010, the album is remastered and reissued as a two CD edition through Hip-O Select Records, with the mono and stereo versions of the original album along with alternate versions and seven live tracks recorded in 1964.