Category: r&b

Born on this day: July 15, 1944 – Singer and s…

Born on this day: July 15, 1944 – Singer and songwriter Millie Jackson (born Mildred Jackson in Thomson, GA). Happy 75th Birthday, Millie!  

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On this day in music history: July 15, 1967 – …

On this day in music history: July 15, 1967 – “I Was Made To Love Her” by Stevie Wonder hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks (non-consecutive), also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on July 29, 1967. Written by Henry Cosby, Lula Mae Hardaway, Sylvia Moy and Stevie Wonder, it is the third R&B chart topper for the then seventeen year old Motown star. Staff producer and songwriter Sylvia Moy comes up with the initial idea for the song, drawing upon her own family background while growing up in Arkansas. Moy collaborates with producer/songwriter Henry “Hank” Cosby along with Stevie Wonder and his mother Lula who also contributes lyrics and melody lines to the song. The track is cut at Motown Studio A in Detroit on March 11, 1967 with The Funk Brothers providing the instrumental backing. The strings (played by members of the Detroit Symphony) are added on March 21, 1967 with Wonder recording his lead vocal on March 30, 1967. The background vocals are recorded on March 31, 1967. Released in May of 1967 after a number of mid charting singles on the pop charts, it fully restores Wonder to commercial prominence, becoming his first million selling single since “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” a year and a half before. “I Was Made To Love Her” is also covered numerous times by various artists including The Beach Boys, Boyz II Men, The Jackson 5, and Michael McDonald. Chaka Khan and Whitney Houston record their own versions as “I Was Made To Love Him” in 1978 and 1998 respectively.

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On this day in music history: July 14, 1990 – …

On this day in music history: July 14, 1990 – “My, My, My” by Johnny Gill hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 2 weeks, also peaking at #10 on the Hot 100 on September 29, 1990. Written by Babyface and Daryl Simmons, it is the third chart topping single for the R&B vocalist from Washington D.C.. After joining New Edition in 1988, and making a solid impression with group, Johnny Gill resumes his solo career in late 1989. With MCA Records Black Music executive Jheryl Busby having been promoted to the President and CEO of Motown Records, Busby is assigned with the daunting task of re-building the iconic R&B label after years of decline. Originally believing that his solo album will handled by MCA, Gill is initially disappointed when he finds that his solo contract has been transferred to Motown. Busby reassures the singer that not only will he be a major priority, but an essential cornerstone in the new regime at Motown. The executive makes good his promise, pairing Johnny Gill up with two of the hottest songwriting and production teams in the music business. Gill works with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, whom he had previously worked with on New Edition’s “Heart Break” album, and with L.A. and Babyface. For Gill’s album, Babyface and L.A. produce four songs for the project including “Fairweather Friend”, “Feels So Much Better” and “My, My, My”. The latter of those is co-written by Face with Daryl “De’Rock” Simmons, who had been one of L.A. and Babyface’s collaborators while both were still members of The Deele. The pair write the silky and romantic ballad “My, My, My”. Recorded at the producers’ home base of Elumba Recording Studios in Hollywood, CA in late 1989, the track features Babyface on all keyboards, L.A. Reid on drum programming, former Deele bassist Kayo, with the background vocals being sung by Gill and the members of After 7. For the crowning touch, Babyface invites saxophonist Kenny G. to play the songs signature soprano sax solos on the track. Released as the second single from Johnny Gill’s self-titled third album on May 16, 1990, “My, My, My” quickly follows its predecessor “Rub You The Right Way” (#1 R&B, #3 Pop) right to the top of the R&B chart. Acknowledged as a contemporary R&B and Quiet Storm classic, “My, My, My” becomes one of Gill’s signature songs. The success of the song helps propel “Johnny Gill” past the 3x Platinum mark in the US.

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On this day in music history: July 14, 1980 – …

On this day in music history: July 14, 1980 – “Joy And Pain”, the fourth album by Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly is released. Produced by Maze, it is recorded at The Record Plant in Sausalito, CA from Early – Mid 1980. Coming off their third consecutive Gold album “Inspiration”, Maze return to the studio in 1980 to begin work on the follow up. Prior to recording, drummer Ahaguna Sun and lead guitarist Wuane Thomas leave the band and are replaced by Billy (Shoes) Johnson and Ron Smith. Working from their San Francisco Bay Area home base, Maze record at the famed Record Plant Studios just across the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. As with the previous albums, all of the material is composed bandleader and front man Frankie Beverly. The end result is Maze’s strongest effort to date. Proceeded by the single “Southern Girl” (#9 R&B), the album is another immediate smash. The follow up “The Look In Your Eyes” (#29 R&B) also hits the top thirty on the R&B singles chart that Fall. Though it is not released as a single in the US, it is the album’s title track that makes the longest lasting impact. Running seven and a half minutes in length, “Joy And Pain” becomes an instant classic, and a centerpiece of the band’s live performances. Featuring relatively spare instrumentation using a drum machine, electric piano, synthesizer, guitar and bass, its popularity and influence on R&B music is long lasting. The song is covered numerous times, including versions by Avant, Donna Allen, and Kamal Brown. “Joy” is also sampled and interpolated in Hip-Hop with several artists borrowing from it, most notably Rob Base & DJ EZ-Rock, Kelly Price, and Coolio. As with previous albums, the striking cover artwork for “Joy And Pain” is painted by artist Shusei Nagaoka (Earth, Wind & Fire, Electric Light Orchestra), also responsible for creating Maze’s distinctive “hand” logo. First remastered and reissued on CD in 1995 by Razor And Tie Records, is remastered and reissued again by Capitol Records in 1999, as two-fer CD set with “Inspiration”. It is reissued a third time in 2004 as a stand alone CD on Capitol’s Right Stuff imprint. “Joy And Pain” peaks at number five on the Billboard R&B album chart, number thirty one on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 14, 1979 – …

On this day in music history: July 14, 1979 – “Bad Girls” by Donna Summer hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on July 21, 1979. Written by Donna Summer, Eddie Hokenson, Bruce Sudano and Joe Esposito, it is the third pop chart topper and biggest hit for the Boston, MA born singer and songwriter. Summer is inspired to write the song (collaborating with the group Brooklyn Dreams) when her personal assistant is mistaken as being a street prostitute by a police officer, while walking down Sunset Blvd near Casablanca’s offices. Upon hearing her demo recording, Casablanca Records president Neil Bogart suggests that Donna give the song to Cher. Summer refuses to give the song away, and files the tape away until engineer Steve Smith discovers the demo during recording sessions for the “Bad Girls” album in early 1979. His enthusiasm for the song encourages Donna to record it herself. Due to intense public demand, Casablanca Records rush releases “Bad Girls” as a single on May 14, 1979, just one month after the first single “Hot Stuff”. The two singles are released so closely together, that both reside in the top five on the pop chart for six consecutive weeks. Entering the Hot 100 at #55 on May 26, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. The success of the single helps drive sales of the album to over 3x Platinum status in the US. The huge success of the singles and album, lead the ABC television network to offering Summer the opportunity to host her own television special. “The Donna Summer Special” directed by Don Mischer (The Academy Awards) airs on January 27, 1980. “Bad Girls” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 13, 1993 – …

On this day in music history: July 13, 1993 – “Toni Braxton”, the debut album by Toni Braxton is released. Produced by Babyface, L.A. Reid, Daryl Simmons, Vassal Benford, Bo & McArthur, Toni Braxton, Vincent Herbert,  Ernesto Phillips and Tim & Ted, it is recorded at Studio LaCoCo, Doppler Studios, Bosstown Recording Studios in Atlanta, GA, Elumba Studios in Hollywood, CA, Encore Studios in Burbank, CA, Summa Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Central Studios in Bladensburg, MD and Newark Sound Studios in Newark, NJ from May 1992 – May 1993. Raised in a large strict religious family in the suburbs of Washington D.C., Toni Braxton grows up singing her local church choir, but aspires to sing secular music. Blessed with a distinctive, rich and sensual contralto voice, it won’t take long for the young singer to be noticed. The course of her future changes when she is overheard singing to herself while pumping gas at a station in Servern, MD. Bill Pettaway, Jr., the man who hears Toni singing, is a member of a band called Numarx (“Girl You Know It’s True”) and has ties to the music business. Through Pettaway, Toni and her sisters are signed to Arista in 1989, releasing the single “Good Love” in 1990. The single is a failure, but is heard by L.A. Reid and Babyface who are interested in signing Toni as a solo artist to their Arista distributed label LaFace Records. Initially hesitant to leave her sisters behind, they give her their blessing when they realize this is their older sisters’ opportunity to become successful. L.A. and Babyface first have Toni record “Love Should Have Brought You Home” (#2 R&B, #33 Pop) and “Give U My Heart” (duet with Babyface) (#2 R&B, #29 Pop) for the soundtrack of the Eddie Murphy comedy “Boomrang”. Both songs are major hits, thrusting Braxton into the spotlight and generating buzz for her first solo album. Spending an entire year in the studio with L.A. and Face and a number of other producers, Toni Braxton’s debut album is an immediate smash. Led by the single “Another Sad Love Song” (2 R&B, #7 Pop), it spins off a total of six singles also including “Breathe Again” (#4 R&B, #3 Pop) and “You Mean The World To Me” (#3 R&B, #7 Pop). The huge success of her debut quickly establishes Toni as one of the top female vocalists of the decade, selling over ten million copies worldwide. The album is nominated for four Grammy Awards, winning three including Best New Artist in 1994, and Best R&B Female Vocal Performance in both 1994 and 1995. “Toni Braxton” spends three weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Billboard R&B album chart, two weeks at number one (non-consecutive) on the Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: July 13, 1985 – …

On this day in music history: July 13, 1985 – “Hangin’ On A String (Contemplating)” by Loose Ends hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #43 on the Hot 100 on August 24, 1985. Written by Carl McIntosh, Jane Eugene and Steve Nichol, it is the first US chart topper for the London based R&B trio. The band record the track in the US at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia. The single is produced by American R&B producer and remixer Nick Martinelli who had previously worked with Bootsy Collins, Yarbrough & Peoples, and Stephanie Mills. Carl “Macca” McIntosh plays the songs distinctive guitar hook, a mixture of lead and rhythm that proves very influential, as well as the tracks innovative use of the Roland TR-808 drum machine. Originally released in the UK on Virgin’s 10 Records imprint in February of 1985, it is picked up for US release by MCA Records. First released in the UK on their second album “So Where Are You?”, “Hangin’ On A String” is added to the US edition of Loose Ends’ debut album “A Little Spice” in April of 1985, quickly becoming a hit on R&B radio and on the dance floor. The American success of “Hanging On A String” opens the door to a number of other British based R&B artists including Soul II Soul, 52nd Street (“Tell Me (How It Feels”) ) and Princess (“Say I’m Your Number 1”), in the 80’s and beyond. “Hangin’ On A String” is also sampled by rap group Digital Underground on their single “Oregano Flow” in 1996. It is also sampled by Wiz Khalifa on the track “The Kid Frankie” in 2010.

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twixnmix: Ike and Tina Turner during their U…

twixnmix:

Ike and Tina Turner during their UK tour with the Rolling Stones in 1966. 

On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – …

On this day in music history: July 12, 1986 – “Who’s Johnny” by El DeBarge hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on July 5, 1986. Written by Peter & Ina Wolf, it is the lone solo chart topper for the singer, songwriter and musician from Grand Rapids, MI. Undone by infighting and drug use among its members, the family vocal group DeBarge begins to implode during the making of their fourth album “Rhythm Of The Night”. Seeing the writing on the wall, their label Motown Records grooms lead singer El DeBarge for solo stardom. DeBarge works with producers Jay Graydon (Manhattan Transfer, Al Jarreau), and husband and wife songwriter/producers Peter and Ina Wolf (not the former J. Geils Band lead singer). While working on El’s album, the Wolfs are approached by film producers David Foster and Lawrence Turman, asking them if they will write a song for their comedy “Short Circuit”. The film starring Steve Guttenberg (“Police Academy”) and Ally Sheedy (“War Games” , “The Breakfast Club”), is about a military robot named Number 5 that is struck by lightning and develops a human like personality and intelligence. Seeing a rough cut of the film, the Wolfs accept the assignment and agree to write a song. The inspiration for “Who’s Johnny” comes from a scene where Number 5 expresses his dislike of being referred to by a number, and someone suggests “how about Johnny?”. When Peter and Ina present the song to El, initially he is not in favor of it, feeling that is it doesn’t really suit his musical style. When they tell him that it’s for a movie soundtrack and that it could potentially broaden his audience, he agrees to record it. Released as single in April of 1986, like the film “Short Circuit”, it quickly becomes a major success, racing to the top of the R&B singles chart, into the top five on the pop chart, propelling El DeBarge’s debut album to Gold status in the US.

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Remembering Pop and R&B vocal legend Minni…

Remembering Pop and R&B vocal legend Minnie Riperton (born Minnie Julia Riperton in Chicago, IL) – November 8, 1947 – July 12, 1979