On this day in music history: September 19, 1976 – “Car Wash – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” is released. Produced by Norman Whitfield, it is recorded at Sound Factory West and Amigo Recording Studio in Los Angeles, CA from Early – Mid 1976. The nineteen track double LP features all original material written and produced by Norman Whitfield and is performed by the R&B/Funk band Rose Royce. The album is the debut release for the band originally known as Total Concept Unlimited. Whitfield is contacted by “Cooley High” film director Michael Schultz who is looking for someone to score his new film. The producer uses the opportunity to launch his new band, also tailoring new songs he’s written to be used in the film. The soundtrack to the low budget comedy (starring Franklin Ajaye, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin) is a runaway smash, spinning off three hit singles including “I Wanna Get Next To You” (#3 R&B, #10 Pop), “I’m Going Down” (#10 R&B, #70 Pop), and the title track which hits #1 on the Billboard Pop and R&B charts. The album is remastered and reissued on CD in 1996, and is reissued on vinyl in 2015. “Car Wash” peaks at number two on the Billboard R&B album chart, number fourteen on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 13, 1986 – “Take My Breath Away” by Berlin hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock, it is the biggest hit for the new wave pop-rock band from Los Angeles, CA fronted by lead singer Terri Nunn. Having written Oscar winning music for films such as “Midnight Express” and “Flashdance”, composer and producer Giorgio Moroder is asked by film producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to contribute to the soundtrack of their film “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, and Anthony Edwards. Paired with lyricist Tom Whitlock, they write the soundtracks two biggest hits “Danger Zone” and “Take My Breath Away”. Both songs are offered to Berlin. Initially, “Danger Zone” (#2 Pop) is planned as a duet, but is passed on to Kenny Loggins when the band declines to record it. Used as the “love theme” for the film, “Take My Breath Away” is an immediate hit with film audiences and record buyers. Entering the Hot 100 at #96 on June 21, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The song wins the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1987, earning Moroder his third Oscar and becoming the thirteenth song in the rock era to achieve that honor. The success of Berlin’s single propels the “Top Gun” soundtrack to number one for five weeks (non-consecutive) on the Billboard Top 200, and going 9x Platinum in the US. “Take My Breath Away” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 11, 2001 – “Glitter”, the eighth album by Mariah Carey is released. Produced by Mariah Carey, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, James “Big Jim” Wright, DJ Clue, Duro, Clark Kent, Damizza, Rick James and Walter Afanasieff, it is recorded at Various Studios from Late 2000 – Mid 2001. The eighth release by the superstar singer also serves as the soundtrack to her first starring film role. The album is also her first after leaving longtime label Columbia Records for a highly lucrative five album contract with Virgin Records reported to be worth over $100 million. The record features Carey collaborating with number of artists and producers which include Da Brat, DJ Clue, Rick James, Cameo, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis and singer Eric Benet. While doing promotion for the soundtrack and film prior to their release, Carey is suffering from physical and mental exhaustion which results in a bizarre incident on MTV’s “TRL” with host Carson Daly where Carey appears wearing an oversized T-shirt, pushing an ice cream cart and handing out ice cream bars to the crowd. She tops the appearance off by doing a striptease right on live television. Other strange incidents occur in the following days at an autograph signing at a New York City Tower Records, and when she posts odd messages on her official website which are quickly taken down. Shortly after this, the release date for the album is changed from its original date of August 21, 2001 to September 11, 2001. During the interim period, Carey is checked into a hospital for a nervous breakdown. When they are finally released, both the film and soundtrack are met with mixed to highly negative reviews from critics and fans, compounded by ill timed release of the album on the day of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Spinning off two singles including “Loverboy” (featuring Cameo) (#2 Pop) and “Never Too Far” (non-charting), the soundtrack sells 116,000 copies in its first week (her last Columbia album “Rainbow” sold 323,000 copies in its first week), making it the poorest first week sales of her career to that date. The poor performance of the soundtrack, the film and all of the negative publicity generated by Carey breakdown causes the singer and Virgin Records to part ways. The label pays the singer $28 million to end her contract with the company. “Glitter” peaks in its debut chart position of number seven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 11, 1982 – “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary Chart for 3 weeks on August 21, 1982. Written by Peter Cetera and David Foster, it is the second chart topping single for the rock band from Chicago, IL. Following their being unceremoniously dropped by former label Columbia Records after releasing fifteen albums over their thirteen year association with the label, Chicago sign with Warner Bros Records in late 1981. With the change of label come other changes. Former Sons Of Champlin keyboardist, guitarist and vocalist Bill Champlin joins the band as a co-lead vocalist, and Chicago selects former studio musician and songwriter David Foster to produce them. Once a fully self contained band, Foster streamlines and retools Chicago’s sound by bringing in Toto members David Paich, Steve Lukather, Steve Porcaro (and others) to augment them instrumentally as well as work as songwriting collaborators. The ballad “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” is the first single released from “Chicago 16” on May 27, 1982. It is also included in the Randal Kleiser (“Grease”, “The Blue Lagoon”) directed film “Summer Lovers” starring Daryl Hannah and Peter Gallagher. Though the film is a box office disappointment, “Sorry” is Chicago’s first major hit in nearly five years. The full LP version of the track segues into the song “Get Away”, but is edited for single release, via a fade out before the start of the next song. Though today, many radio stations play both tracks in sequence. Entering the Hot 100 at #75 on June 5, 1982, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. “Hard To Say I’m Sorry” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: September 10, 1983 – “Maniac” by Michael Sembello hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Michael Sembello and Dennis Matkosky, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and musician from Philadelphia, PA. Born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Michael Sembello begins playing guitar during his childhood, and by his teens has mastered the instrument, and is working as a professional session musician. Before he’s even out of high school, Sembello is hired by Stevie Wonder as a member of his band Wonderlove, touring and recording with the Motown legend from 1972 to 1979. Following his tenure with Wonder, Sembello continues successfully as a first call session musician and songwriter, working with the likes of Michael Jackson, George Benson, Jeffrey Osborne, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross and Chaka Khan. In 1982, producer Phil Ramone is hired as the music supervisor for the film “Flashdance”, compiling additional material for the soundtrack album. Ramone calls his friend Michael Sembello, and asks him he has any songs that might be suitable for use in the film. Sembello sends Ramone a tape with several songs for him to consider. The producer calls him back, telling him his favorite song on the tape is one called “Maniac”. The original lyrics about a killer on a rampage, are inspired by director William Lustig’s low budget horror-slasher film classic “Maniac”. The original lyrics are changed at the request of film producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer to match the film’s theme about a female welder aspiring to become a professional dancer. Released as the second single from the “Flashdance” soundtrack in May of 1983, the song is an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on June 4, 1983, it climbs to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. “Maniac” is also released as an extended 12" single remixed by John “Jellybean” Benitez which also becomes a top seller. Michael Sembello and co-writer Dennis Matkosky win a Grammy Award for Grammy Award for Best Album of Original Score Written for A Motion Picture or a Television Special in 1984 for their contribution to the “Flashdance” original motion picture soundtrack. They also receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 1984, but lose the award to the soundtrack’s other huge hit “Flashdance… What A Feeling”.
On this day in music history: September 4, 1965 – “Help!” by The Beatles hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the ninth chart topping single in the US for the legendary rock band from Liverpool, UK. The song is the theme for the bands second film and soundtrack of the same name. The song is primarily written by John, with the lyrics reveal his feelings of insecurity and depression in The Beatles rise to fame. The films working title is “Eight Arms To Hold You” but is changed after the song is recorded. The band record the track in the number two studio at Abbey Road Studios on April 13, 1965, completing it in twelve takes. The vocals are re-recorded at CTS Studios in London six weeks later on May 24, 1965. The new vocal overdubs are mixed down into mono and used for the films opening title sequence. With these overdubs existing only on this mix, results in noticeable differences in the mono single and stereo LP mixes of the song. The single release of “Help!” is issued with the non-LP B-side “I’m Down”. Written primarily by Paul McCartney, the uptempo rocker is recorded at Abbey Road Studios on June 14, 1965. “Down” is recorded during the same session as the ballads “Yesterday” and “I’ve Just Seen A Face”, standing in stark contrast to that raucous rave up. Though “I’m Down” does not chart on the US singles charts (oddly being one of the few Beatles B-sides that does not during this period), it is performed on The Beatles final Ed Sullivan Show appearance in September of 1965, and on their last two world tours in 1965 and 1966. Released on July 19, 1965 (UK release date is on July 23, 1965), it follows up the bands previous chart topper “Ticket To Ride”, also featured in the film. Entering the Hot 100 at #41 on August 7, 1965, it rockets to the top just four weeks later. “Help!” also receives a Grammy nomination in 1966 for Best Performance By Vocal Group. Infamously, The Beatles lose the award to the Anita Kerr Singers bland, middle of the road country pop album “We Dig Mancini”. Their win causes an uproar, due in part to Kerr being a charter member of the Grammy voting committee. It instigates a drive by NARAS to bring “younger and hipper” Grammy members into the voting pool to better reflect current tastes in popular music. In 2011, a replica of the original US 45 and picture sleeve is reissued in a limited edition box set (w/ a T-shirt), through the Target retail chain. “Help!” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 29, 1987 – “La Bamba” by Los Lobos hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Ritchie Valens, it is the biggest hit for the East Los Angeles, CA based band. Recorded as the theme song to the biopic of Mexican American rock & roll icon Ritchie Valens, the traditional Mexican folk song is based on the Son Jarocho style of music native to the state of Veracruz, and is often played at weddings. Valens rock & roll version (#22 Pop) is recorded in 1958 and is issued as the B-side of his biggest single “Donna” (#2 Pop). When Los Lobos records their version for the film (who also make a cameo appearance), they use Valens’ arrangement of the song, adding a reprise at the end of the traditional folk arrangement. Released six weeks ahead of the film in early June of 1987, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on June 27, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The accompanying soundtrack album also hits number one on the Billboard Top 200 for 2 weeks (on September 12, 1987), and to date has been certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 28, 1984 – “The Woman In Red – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” by Stevie Wonder is released. Produced by Stevie Wonder, it is recorded at Wonderland Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Townhouse Studios and Roundhouse Studios in London, Marcadet Studios in Paris, France, Far Studios in Frankfurt, Germany, Union Studios in Munich, Germany, Jacob Studios in Surrey, UK, Brunwey Studios in Hamburg, Germany and Dierks Remote Truck in Pulheim, Germany from Early 1984 – Summer 1984. Featuring music from the comedy starring and directed by Gene Wilder (co-starring Kelly LeBrock, Charles Grodin and Gilda Radner), Wilder asks Wonder if he will write a few songs for his film. Stevie commits to the project, also inviting his friend Dionne Warwick to sing on three songs on the album. The musician works on the film music mostly in between dates on his European tour during the Spring and Summer of 1984. He works on the music right up until the last possible moment, nearly missing the deadline to submit the songs to the films distributor Orion Pictures, who have to hold up the manufacturing of film prints to movie theaters for its August 15, 1984 release date. The soundtrack spins off three singles including “I Just Called To Say I Love You” (#1 Pop and R&B) and “Love Light In Flight” (#4 R&B, #17 Pop). “I Just Called To Say I Love You” wins Wonder an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1985. The duets “It’s You” and “Weakness” featuring Warwick are also included on her album “Finder Of Lost Loves”, released in early 1985. “The Woman In Red” spends four weeks at number one on the Billboard R&B album chart, peaking at number four on the Top 200, and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 26, 1995 – “Kiss From A Rose” by Seal hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 12 weeks on the same date. Written by Seal , it is the biggest hit for the British born Nigerian/Afro-Brazilian singer, songwriter and musician. Originally written for his second self-titled album released in 1994, “Kiss From A Rose” is almost left off of the album when Seal and his producer Trevor Horn feel initially that it sounds “too different” from the other songs on the album, planning to drop it from the final track sequence. A friend of Seal’s hears the song and insist that he include it. When a Warner Bros A&R exec hears “Kiss”, he plays it for Gary LeMel, the president of music for Warner Bros movie division. LeMel plays the song for Batman Forever director Joel Schumacher who loves the song and asks to use it in the film. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on June 24, 1995, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The song drives both Seal’s second self titled album and the “Batman Forever” soundtrack to multi-platinum status, as well as winning three Grammy Awards including Record and Song Of The Year for 1995. “Kiss From A Rose” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: August 26, 1978 – “Grease” by Frankie Valli hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks, also peaking at #40 on the R&B singles chart on September 16, 1978. Written by Barry Gibb, it is the second solo chart topper for legendary lead vocalist of The Four Seasons born Francesco Castelluccio. Following the Bee Gees work on the soundtrack for “Saturday Night Fever” and as the group are wrapping up filming on the Robert Stigwood helmed “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, Barry Gibb is asked by Stigwood to write the theme song for film adaptation of the long running hit musical “Grease”. Gibb quickly writes the song on his own, cutting the track at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL in April of 1978. Guitarist Peter Frampton, Gibb’s co-star in “Sgt. Pepper” plays guitar on the track. Barry Gibb is also instrumental in bringing in Frankie Valli to sing the title song to the film. Released as the second single from the “Grease” soundtrack on May 6, 1978, it quickly becomes a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on May 27, 1978, it climbs to the top of the chart thirteen weeks later. “Grease” is Valli’s second solo number one (seventh overall) giving him a span of nearly sixteen years since his first number with The Four Seasons in 1962. The success of the song drives sales of the “Grease” soundtrack to over 8x Platinum in the US, and worldwide sales of over twenty eight million copies. At the time of its domination of the charts, it is the second largest selling soundtrack album of all time after “Saturday Night Fever” (eventually displaced to second and third place by “The Bodyguard” Soundtrack). “Grease” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.