Category: yacht rock

On this day in music history: October 17, 1981 – “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” by Christopher Cross hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 4 weeks on September 26, 1981. Written by Christopher Cross, Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen, it is the second and final chart topping single for the San Antonio, TX born singer, songwriter and musician. The song is featured as the theme for the hit comedy “Arthur” starring Dudley Moore, Sir John Gielgud, and Liza Minnelli. Cross is asked to sing the theme for the film by songwriter Burt Bacharach, and invited to collaborate on the song. The lyric “when you get caught between the moon and New York City” comes from an unfinished song written by Australian born songwriter and musician Peter Allen (former husband of singer and actress Liza Minnelli) and songwriter Carole Bayer Sager (later married to Bacharach from 1982 – 1991). That line forms the basis of the song, with the rest of the music and lyrics being written around it. Released in tandem with the film in July of 1981, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #71 on August 17, 1981, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. “Arthur’s Theme” wins the Academy Award for “Best Original Song” in 1982, becoming the eighth song of the rock era to win the award. The Oscar win tops a phenomenal two years of success for Cross, who sees a reversal of his good fortune with his second album “Another Page” in early 1983 when the albums first two singles under perform on the charts. Though the album is certified Gold (and scores a belated hit with “Think Of Laura” (#9 Pop)), it falls far short of the multi-platinum sales (5x Platinum in the US) his self-titled debut album. “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 30, 1980 – “Sailing” by Christopher Cross hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart on July 26, 1980. Written by Christopher Cross, it is the first chart topping single for the singer, songwriter, and musician from San Antonio, TX born Christopher Geppert. Issued as the second single from his multi-platinum selling debut album, the song was originally not in the running to be a single. Warner Bros originally intends “I Really Don’t Know Anymore” to be the follow up to “Ride The Like Wind” (#2 Pop), which also features Doobie Brothers lead vocalist Michael McDonald on background vocals. With a new Doobie Brothers album and single (“One Step Closer” and “Real Love” respectively) just released, McDonald’s management nix the idea, feeling that McDonald’s vocal presence is over saturated on radio. The ballad “Sailing” is chosen instead, and takes off quickly at both pop and AC radio after its release in May of 1980. Entering the Hot 100 at #77 on June 14, 1980, it reaches the top of the chart eleven weeks later. A staple of Adult Contemporary radio, surprisingly the single climbs no higher than #10 on that chart. “Sailing” wins Cross three of the five Grammy Awards he wins in 1981 for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals. The song’s gentle soft-rock sound becomes one of the cornerstones, of the sub-genre known as “yacht rock”.

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On this day in music history: August 28, 1978 – “I Just Wanna Stop” by Gino Vannelli is released. Written by Ross Vannelli, it is the thirteenth single and biggest hit for the Canadian born singer, songwriter and musician. Vannelli is one of three brothers born into a musical family in Montreal. By his teens, Gino is writing songs and performing which lead to him signing with RCA Records in 1970 just after graduating from high school. Released under the stage name “Vann-Elli”, his debut single “Gina Bold” (#92 Can) scrapes the bottom of the Canadian singles chart, he puts his music career plans on hold to attend college and study music. Leaving Canada for New York City, Vannelli is unable to find steady work there or attract any record label attention, so he and his brother Joe go to Los Angeles in a last ditch attempt to land a record deal. The pair go to A&M Records in Hollywood and stand out in front of the gate, hoping to audition for the label. As luck would have it, they’re able to attract label co-founder Herb Alpert’s attention who invite them on to the lot to audition for him. Alpert likes what he hears immediately and signs Gino to a contract with A&M. His first album “Crazy Life” released in 1973 fails to generate any hits, but the follow up “Powerful People” in 1974 spins off his first chart single “People Gotta Move” (#22 Pop). The song also leads to Gino making his first US television appearance on Soul Train in early 1975, making him only the second white musician to appear on the show. Releasing three more albums over the next few years, Vannelli experiences his biggest success with his sixth album “Brother To Brother” in 1978. Produced by Gino and his brothers Joe and Ross, all of the songs are also written by Gino and Ross. The mid tempo blue eyed soul song “I Just Wanna Stop” is written by Ross Vannelli. Recorded at Davlen Sound Studios in Hollywood in mid 1978, the track features future Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip, Carlos Rios (guitar), Mark Craney (drums), Joe Vannelli (electric piano, synthesizers), Manolo Badrena of Weather Report (percussion), Ernie Watts (saxophone), Julia Tillman Waters, Maxine Willard Waters, Ross Vannelli and Stephanie Spruill (background vocals). Issued as the first single from “Brother To Brother”, “I Just Wanna Stop” quickly becomes a multi-format smash hitting #1 in Vannelli’s native Canada, and peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 9, 1978, #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #21 on the R&B singles chart. The success of “Stop” propels the accompanying album into the top twenty on the Top 200, and to Platinum status in the US and Canada.

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On this day in music history: August 26, 1972 – “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Eliot Lurie, it is the biggest hit for the New Jersey based band. Formed in 1969 while the members are students at Rutgers University, the original line up breaks up after graduating from college. Remaining members Eliot Lurie (lead vocals, guitar) and Larry Gonsky (piano), recruit new members Pieter Sweral (bass) and Jeff Grob (drums) to fill out the line up. The song was originally titled “Randy” (about an old girlfriend). The band initially cut the track with songwriter and producer Sandy Linzer (“A Lover’s Concerto”, “Native New Yorker”, “Fresh”), but scrap the original version when they are unsatisfied with the results. Working with Bob Liftin and Mike Gershman, they re-record the track which be the one that is released. The song is also remixed numerous times after its recorded, until the band feel that is right. The LP and 45 mixes have noticeable differences, with the single being sped up slightly and featuring prominent percussion. The album runs longer and is featured at its original recorded speed. When Epic Records releases the single in May of 1972, it is as the as the B-side of the song “One By One”. Harv Moore at WPGC in Washington DC prefers “Brandy” instead and within three weeks, it is the number one single on the station. Entering the Billboard Hot 100 at #68 on June 17, 1972, it climbs to the top of the Hot 100 ten weeks later, temporarily interrupting Gilbert O’Sullivan’s six week run at the top with “Alone Again (Naturally)”. “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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On this day in music history: August 9, 1982 – “If That’s What It Takes”, the debut solo album by Michael McDonald is released. Produced by Ted Templeman and Lenny Waronker, it is recorded at Warner Bros Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA, Sunset Sound Recorders and Ocean Way Recording in Hollywood, CA from Late 1981 – Mid 1982. Having taken The Doobie Brothers to even greater success after joining in 1975, the endless cycle of recording and touring as well as increasing musical differences between the band members take their toll. After releasing the album “One Step Closer” in 1980, Toward the end of 1981, Michael McDonald begins recording his first solo album, working with long time Doobies producer Ted Templeman and Warner Bros staff producer and label executive Lenny Waronker. Calling on various friends many of whom represent the cream of the crop of L.A. studio players, join McDonald in the studio. That group includes Toto members Jeff Porcaro (drums) and Steve Lukather (guitar), Louis Johnson of The Brothers Johnson, Willie Weeks, Mike Porcaro (bass), Greg Phillinganes, Michael Boddicker (synthesizers, keyboards), Steve Gadd (drums), Robben Ford, Dean Parks (guitars), Tom Scott (lyricon), Edgar Winter (saxophone), Paulinho Da Costa, Bobby LaKind, Lenny Castro (percussion), Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross, Brenda Russell, Maureen McDonald, Kathy Walker and Amy Holland. The first single “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” (#4 Pop, #7 R&B, #8 AC) co-written with Ed Sanford of the Sanford/Townsend Band (“Smoke From A Distant Fire”), the cool and soulful song is an immediate multi-format smash. While it’s climbing the charts, songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller file suit, claiming that it is similar to their song of the same name originally recorded by Chuck Jackson in 1962. The suit is settled with Leiber and Stoller’s names added to the songwriting credits and being awarded royalties. The follow up “I Gotta Try” (#44, #28 AC) is co-written with old friend Kenny Loggins, records it himself and releases it on his fourth album “High Adventure” in September 1982. McDonald’s first solo album dove tails into the major success he enjoys throughout the 80’s and beyond. More than a decade later, “I Keep Forgettin’” resurfaces in sample form when Warren G. uses it as the basis of his huge hit “Regulate” (#2 Pop, #7 R&B, #1 Rap) in 1994. “Forgettin’” and “Regulate” are also the subjects of an episode of the popular online video series “Yacht Rock”. Both songs become plot devices in a hilarious fictionalized account in which Warren G. and Nate Dogg accidentally hit McDonald with their car, while the musician is out jogging. Originally released on CD in 1990, it is remastered and reissued as an SHM-CD by Warner Japan in 2016. “If That’s What It Takes” peaks at number six on the Billboard Top 200, number ten on the R&B album chart and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

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Born on this day: May 3, 1951 – Singer, songwriter, and musician Christopher Cross (born Christopher Charles Geppert in San Antonio, TX). Happy 68th Birthday, Christopher!!

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On this day in music history: December 27, 1979 – “Christopher Cross”, the debut album by Christopher Cross is released. Produced by Michael Omartian, it is recorded at Warner Bros Recording Studios in North Hollywood, CA from Mid – Late 1979. Originally a member of the San Antonio, TX based cover band Flash, Christopher Cross signs a solo recording deal with Warner Bros Records early in 1979. Paired with producer Michael Omartian, they get to work on the singers’ debut album. It features a number of prominent musicians guesting on the project including Doobie Brother Michael McDonald, Eagles member Don Henley, Nicolette Larson, J.D. Souther (vocals), Victor Feldman (percussion), Jay Graydon and Eric Johnson (guitars). When the album is first released, it is to little fanfare, and with little to no response from radio or the media initially. Only after the single “Ride Like The Wind” (#2 Pop, #24 AC) featuring prominent background vocals by Michael McDonald is issued as a single on January 30, 1980, a month after the LP’s release, that it takes flight. Over the next several months, Cross goes from being a virtual unknown to an instant pop star. The album spins off four singles including “Sailing” (#1 Pop, #10 AC), “Never Be The Same” (#15 Pop, #1 AC), and “Say You’ll Be Mine” (#20 Pop, #15 AC). In February of 1980, Christopher Cross makes history when he wins five Grammy Awards for his debut release, including Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year (both for “Sailing”), Best New Artist and Album Of The Year in 1981. Cross is the only artist in Grammy history to win awards in all of the major categories in one year, beating out major competitors including Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and Frank Sinatra’s “Trilogy: Past Present Future”. The massive commercial success of his debut proves to be a double edged sword for Cross. The musician receives criticism and even scorn from many rock critics feeling that his music is “too soft” and that he is undeserving of the major accolades showered upon him. Originally issued on CD in 1985, it is remastered and reissued as a SHM-CD by Warner Music Japan in 2008, reissuing it again in 2016. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is remastered and reissued as a 180 gram LP by Friday Music in 2013. “Christopher Cross” peaks at number six on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 5x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: December 22, 1979 – “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” by Rupert Holmes hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks (non-consecutive). Written by Rupert Holmes, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter, musician and author born David Goldstein. The son of an American Army warrant officer and an English mother born in Northwich, Cheshire, UK in 1947, his family moves to the New York suburb of Nanuet in the early 50’s. Goldstein changes his name to Rupert Holmes when he begins working as a studio musician in New York City during the late 60’s. Holmes has his first taste of success in 1971 when he writes the song “Timothy” for the band The Buoys (#17 Pop), a song about three men trapped in a mine, then resorting to cannibalism. Continuing to do session work and working as a commercial jingle writer, Holmes begins his solo recording career in 1973. In 1979, he is signed to MCA subsidiary Infinity Records for his fifth album “Partners in Crime”. While writing material for the album, Holmes comes up with the idea for a song about a man, bored in his long time relationship with his girlfriend answers a personal ad he sees in the newspaper. The major plot twist being that the woman who placed the ad turns out to be his own girlfriend. While recording the basic track, drummers Steve Jordan and Leo Adamian are both so intoxicated, they are unable to play more than one take successfully. With studio time and tape being very expensive, Holmes with the assistance of co-producer and engineer Jim Boyer splices together a sixteen bar drum sequence, and use it as the basis for the whole track. Released as a single in September of 1979, it quickly becomes a hit. Initial pressings of the album list the title as just “Escape”. When people go into record stores calling it “The Piña Colada Song”, Infinity Records amends the title on the single and subsequent pressings of the LP. Entering the Hot 100 at #85 on October 20, 1979, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. The single spends two weeks at the top of the chart, before being bumped from number one by KC & The Sunshine Band’s “Please Don’t Go” on January 5, 1980. “Escape” returns to the top for one more week on January 12, 1980, making it the only single to be number one in two different decades. Over the years, “Escape” is featured in numerous films including “Mars Attacks!”, “Shrek”, “Grown Ups” and “Guardians Of The Galaxy”. “Escape (The Piña Colada Song)” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA

On this day in music history: August 30, 1980 – “Sailing” by Christopher Cross hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart on July 26, 1980. Written by Christopher Cross, it is the first chart topping single for the singer, songwriter, and musician from San Antonio, TX born Christopher Geppert. Issued as the second single from his multi-platinum selling debut album, the song was originally not in the running to be a single. Warner Bros originally intends “I Really Don’t Know Anymore” to be the follow up to “Ride The Like Wind” (#2 Pop), which also features Doobie Brothers lead vocalist Michael McDonald on background vocals. With a new Doobie Brothers album and single (“One Step Closer” and “Real Love” respectively) just released, McDonald’s management nix the idea, feeling that McDonald’s vocal presence is over saturated on radio. The ballad “Sailing” is chosen instead, and takes off quickly at both pop and AC radio after its release in May of 1980. Entering the Hot 100 at #77 on June 14, 1980, it reaches the top of the chart eleven weeks later. A staple of Adult Contemporary radio, surprisingly the single climbs no higher than #10 on that chart. “Sailing” wins Cross three of the five Grammy Awards he wins in 1981 for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocals. The song’s gentle soft-rock sound becomes one of the cornerstones, of the sub-genre known as “yacht rock”.

On this day in music history: August 28, 1978 – “I Just Wanna Stop” by Gino Vannelli is released. Written by Ross Vannelli, it is the thirteenth single and biggest hit for the Canadian born singer, songwriter and musician. Vannelli is one of three brothers born into a musical family in Montreal. By his teens, Gino is writing songs and performing which lead to him signing with RCA Records in 1970 just after graduating from high school. Released under the stage name “Vann-Elli”, his debut single “Gina Bold” (#92 Can) scrapes the bottom of the Canadian singles chart, he puts his music career plans on hold to attend college and study music. Leaving Canada for New York City, Vannelli is unable to find steady work there or attract any record label attention, so he and his brother Joe go to Los Angeles in a last ditch attempt to land a record deal. The pair go to A&M Records in Hollywood and stand out in front of the gate, hoping to audition for the label. As luck would have it, they’re able to attract label co-founder Herb Alpert’s attention who invite them on to the lot to audition for him. Alpert likes what he hears immediately and signs Gino to a contract with A&M. His first album “Crazy Life” released in 1973 fails to generate any hits, but the follow up “Powerful People” in 1974 spins off his first chart single “People Gotta Move” (#22 Pop). The song also leads to Gino making his first US television appearance on Soul Train in early 1975, making him only the second white musician to appear on the show. Releasing three more albums over the next few years, Vannelli experiences his biggest success with his sixth album “Brother To Brother” in 1978. Produced by Gino and his brothers Joe and Ross, all of the songs are also written by Gino and Ross. The mid tempo blue eyed soul song “I Just Wanna Stop” is written by Ross Vannelli. Recorded at Davlen Sound Studios in Hollywood in mid 1978, the track features future Yellowjackets bassist Jimmy Haslip, Carlos Rios (guitar), Mark Craney (drums), Joe Vannelli (electric piano, synthesizers), Manolo Badrena of Weather Report (percussion), Ernie Watts (saxophone), Julia Tillman Waters, Maxine Willard Waters, Ross Vannelli and Stephanie Spruill (background vocals). Issued as the first single from “Brother To Brother”, “I Just Wanna Stop” quickly becomes a multi-format smash hitting #1 in Vannelli’s native Canada, and peaking at #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 on December 9, 1978, #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart, and #21 on the R&B singles chart. The success of “Stop” propels the accompanying album into the top twenty on the Top 200, and to Platinum status in the US and Canada.