Born on this day: December 8, 1925 – Entertainer extraordinaire Sammy Davis, Jr. (born Samuel George Davis, Jr. in Harlem, New York City, NY) Happy Birthday to this entertainment icon on what would have been his 94th Birthday.
On this day in music history: June 10, 1972 – “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr. hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on May 20, 1972. Written by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, it is the biggest hit for the Harlem, NY born singer, actor and entertainer. Songwriters Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse whose credits singularly and collectively include classics such as “Goldfinger”, “What Kind Of Fool Am I”, “Talk To The Animals”, and Tony winning musical “Stop The World – I Want To Get Off”, are hired by film producers Stan Margulies and David L. Wolper to write songs and the score for the film “Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory”. Among the eight songs Newley and Bricusse write, the first heard in the film is “The Candy Man”. The original version of the song is sung by actor Aubrey Woods, as the candy shop owner. After a brief stint signed to Motown Records which yields one album produced by Jimmy Bowen (Frank Sinatra), entertainer Sammy Davis, Jr., leaves Motown in 1971 and signs with MGM Records. MGM Records president Mike Curb suggests to Sammy that he record “The Candy Man”. At first Davis is not receptive to the idea, telling Curb he hates the song, feeling that it’s “too saccharine”. Though ten years before, Davis had scored a major hit with Newley and Bricusse’s “What Kind Of Fool Am I”, and decides to give “The Candy Man” a shot. Curb co-produces the session along with legendary producer and arranger Don Costa, and Michael Viner (Incredible Bongo Band). The track also features background vocals by The Mike Curb Congregation who had previously recorded it before Davis, but their fails to chart. Released as a single in November of 1971, “The Candy Man” is not an immediate hit. It is only after it begins receiving airplay on AC radio stations, that the record takes off. At the time, many Top 40 pop stations refuse to play the record. The exposure from Adult Contemporary radio gives it the momentum it needs to propel it on to and up the charts. Entering the Hot 100 at #97 on March 11, 1972, it climbs to the top of the chart thirteen weeks later. The single earns Davis a Grammy nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1973. “The Candy Man” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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