On this day in music history: May 19, 1980 – “Fame – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by Michael Gore, it is recorded at Media Sound Studios, C.I. Recording Studios, A&R Recording Studios and Columbia 30th Street Studios in New York City from April – May 1979. Issued as the soundtrack to the Alan Parker directed film about students attending the New York High School of Performing Arts, it stars Irene Cara, Gene Anthony Ray, Lee Curreri, Barry Miller, Maureen Teefy and Paul McCrane. Parker approaches Giorgio Moroder who had won an Oscar for composing the score to his film “Midnight Express”, to work on “Fame”. Moroder declines as he is busy working with Donna Summer. The director also asks Jeff Lynne of ELO who also busy. Ultimately musician Michael Gore is hired, who co-writes six of the nine songs. The music is recorded prior to the start of filming in July of 1979. Three of the songs are performed by Irene Cara. The title track (#4 Pop, #1 Club Play) is co-written by Gore and Dean Pitchford, featuring a group of backing vocalists that includes Luther Vandross who is also the vocal arranger on the track. The song is the albums’ break out single, becoming a pop radio and club smash. “Fame” also earns Gore and Pitchford the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1981. The follow up single, the ballad “Out Here On My Own” (#19 Pop, #20 AC) also sung by Cara is co-written by Gore along with his sister pop vocalist Lesley Gore, also earning an Oscar nomination. It marks the first time in history that two songs from the same film, are nominated in the same category. Paul McCrane (Montgomery MacNeil) performs “Dogs In The Yard” and “Is It Okay If I Call You Mine?”, the latter of which is written by him. “Red Light” (#1 Club Play, #41 Pop, #40 R&B) performed by Linda Clifford is another stand out, featured in a memorable scene. Like the film itself, the soundtrack becomes a major success, and a pop cultural phenomenon at a time when film musicals are considered well past their prime. It launches Irene Cara’s career as a recording artist, having performed on Broadway, on television and in film since childhood. “Fame” is spun off into a successful TV series in 1982, running for six seasons. The title track and soundtrack become belated hits in the UK two years after the films release, when both are reissued after the debut of the series. Both top the UK singles and album charts in July of 1982, with the album being succeeded at number one by “The Kids From Fame” album. Originally released on CD in 1990, the original soundtrack is remastered and reissued in 2003, including three bonus tracks not on the original album. “Fame – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” peaks at number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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