BEHIND THE GROOVES: a music blog by Jeff Harris

On this day in music history: April 16, 1983 - “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 4 weeks, also Bubbling Under the Hot 100 at #101 on the same date. Written by George Clinton, Garry Shider, and David Spradley, it is the biggest solo hit for the R&B/Funk music icon. Following the disbanding of Parliament/Funkadelic at the beginning of the 80’s, and mired in various lawsuits and entanglements with the numerous record and publishing companies associated with the band, George Clinton will find himself at a career crossroads. In early 1982, he will sign a deal with Capitol Records to release his first solo album. Enlisting the assistance of several former P-Funk musicians, they will record at their usual home base, United Sound Studios in Detroit, MI. Working with a track written by keyboardist David Spradley (aka “David Lee Chong”, birth name Lee Seung Chang) and guitarist Garry Shider, Clinton will step behind the microphone and improvise the lyrics for “Atomic Dog” right on the spot. Issued as the follow up to the top twenty R&B hit “Loopzilla”, it is the second single from Clinton’s “Computer Games” album. Capitol will initially put no promotional support behind it, thwarted by Clinton’s virtual blacklisting within the music industry, and the general consensus by many that he is well past the peak of his career. However, it will develop a huge groundswell of support from the street, which turn into large sales for the single without any radio airplay. Public support will force the record on to radio, building upward momentum as the weeks pass. The song’s innovative and imaginative music video directed by Peter Conn will put it over the top, knocking Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” from the top of the R&B chart. “Atomic Dog” will also become a cornerstone of Hip Hop music, becoming one of the most widely sampled tracks in history.

Born on this day: April 16, 1953 - Political activist, environmentalist and former Midnight Oil lead singer Peter Garrett (born Peter Robert Garrett in Wahroonga, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia). Happy 61st Birthday, Peter!!

Born on this day: April 16, 1930 - Jazz flutist Herbie Mann (born Herbert Jay Solomon in Brooklyn, NY). Happy Birthday to Herbie on what would have been his 84th Birthday.

On this day in music history: April 16, 1979 - “Hot Stuff” by Donna Summer is released. Written Pete Belotte, Harold Faltermeyer, and Keith Forsey, it is the first single from the landmark “Bad Girls” album. The rock oriented dance track will further broaden Summer’s audience, and is an immediate smash upon its release. For the song’s blistering solo, Doobie Brothers guitarist Jeff “Skunk” Baxter will be brought in to play the part (on a vintage Danelectro guitar). After the single’s initial release as a commercial 45, and promotional 12”, the longer mix of the track will be issued commercially as 12” single shortly afterward, seguing it together with the follow up single “Bad Girls” (the way they appear on the LP, but with a shorter version of “Hot Stuff” appearing on the album). Entering the Hot 100 at #79 on April 21, 1979, the single will rocket to the top of the chart six weeks later, spending 3 non-consecutive weeks at #1. It will yield to The Bee Gees “Love You Inside Out” for one week on June 9, 1979, then regain the top spot for an additional two weeks on June 16, 1979. Summer will also win a Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female for the song, becoming the first woman, and first African American artist to ever win that category.

On this day in music history: April 16, 1970 - “Come To My Garden”, the debut solo album by Minnie Riperton is released. Produced by Charles Stepney, it is recorded at Ter Mar Studios in Chicago, IL from November 24 - 26, 1969. Following her departure from the psychedelic soul/jazz fusion band The Rotary Connection, singer Minnie Riperton will begin work on her solo debut in late 1969. It features all original material written by Stepney and Riperton’s husband Richard Rudolph as well as musical backing by Maurice White (drums), Phil Upchurch (guitar) and Ramsey Lewis (keyboards). Released after the financial collapse of Chess Records and issued on GRT Records (who acquires Chess), the album will receive virtually no promotion from the label and quickly disappears from public notice. A few years after its release, it will attract the attention of Stevie Wonder, who will find Minnie living in Clearwater, FL with her husband and two children. He will convince her to come out of “retirement” from the music business to join his band Wonderlove. After joining up with Wonder and then recording the album “Perfect Angel”, it will revive interest in her long dormant debut release. Though it does not fare much better commercially on the second go around, it will be widely praised by music critics and Riperton’s fans as “a masterpiece”. “Come To My Garden” will belatedly chart in 1974, peaking at number one hundred sixty on the Billboard Top 200.

Born on this day: April 16, 1939 - Pop vocal legend Dusty Springfield (born Mary Isobel Catherine Bernadette O’Brien in West Hampstead, London, UK). Happy Birthday to this “blue-eyed soul” icon on what would have been her 75th Birthday.

Born on this day: April 16, 1924 - Legendary composer, conductor and arranger Henry Mancini (born Enrico Nicola Mancini in Cleveland, OH). Happy Birthday to this music icon on what would have been his 90th Birthday.

On this day in music history: April 15, 1995 - “This Is How We Do It” by Montell Jordan hits #1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B singles charts on April 1, 1995 for 7 weeks. Written by Montell Jordan, Oji Pierce, and Ricky Walters, it is the debut single and biggest hit for the Los Angeles, CA born R&B vocalist. Born Montell Du’Sean Barnett, the 6’ 8” tall singer will attend Pepperdine University in Southern, CA, graduating with a degree in Communications in 1991, before beginning his music career. While being managed by radio DJ Paul Stewart, Stewart will play Jordan’s demo for Def Jam founder Russell Simmons, who immediately likes what he hears and makes a deal to sign the singer to the label’s RAL (Rush Associated Labels) imprint. A long time fan of rapper Slick Rick, Montell and producer Oji Pierce will write a party song around a sample of Rick’s classic “Children’s Story”. For several years, Def Jam had turned down numerous requests from other artists to sample the song, before granting permission to Jordan. Once the single is released in early February of 1995, it will be an overnight smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #93 on February 25, 1995, it will race to the top of the chart seven weeks later. After fifteen years as a recording artist, Montell Jordan will leave the music business in 2010 to become a minister. “This Is How We Do It” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: April 15, 1989 - “She Drives Me Crazy” by Fine Young Cannibals hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Roland Gift and David Steele, it is the first chart topping single for the British pop music trio. Originally titled “She’s My Baby”, the trio will spend nearly six months writing and arranging the song. Lead singer Roland Gift initially begin singing the song in his normal vocal register, but will change his mind when he feels that isn’t working and starts singing it in his falsetto voice. When FYC begins work on their second album, they are eager to work with Prince on the project. When he is unavailable, the band will instead work with David Z. (David Rivkin, brother of Prince & The Revolution drummer Bobby Z.), and record the track (along with three others) at Prince’s Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen, MN. Issued as the first single from their second album “The Raw And The Cooked” in January of 1989, it will quickly become a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #97 on January 28, 1989, it will climb to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The success of the single help propel “The Raw And The Cooked” to number one on the Billboard Top 200  on June 3, 1989 where it will spend seven weeks at the top.”She Drives Me Crazy” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: April 15, 1989 - “Every Little Step” by Bobby Brown hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, and will also peak at #3 on the Hot 100 on June 10, 1989. Written and produced by L.A. Reid and Babyface, it is the fourth R&B chart topper for the Boston, MA born R&B singer. The uptempo new jack swing flavored “Step” is originally intended for Babyface’s “Tender Lover” album which is being recorded at the same time as Brown’s second solo album, but is given to Brown at the last minute to fill out his album. Issued as the fourth single from “Don’t Be Cruel”, it is another major smash. When the song is released, MCA will included remixed and edited versions of the song. The B-side will include rap verses in the breakdown (rumored to have been written by Smooth B of the rap duo Nice & Smooth, but not credited) will become an airplay favorite as well is being used in the video. The single will win Brown a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male in 1990. “Every Little Step” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.