On this day in music history: March 10, 1979 - “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks (non-consecutive), also peaking at #5 on the R&B singles chart. Written by Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris, it is the biggest hit for the New Jersey born singer. Having previously scored hits with her covers of the Jackson 5 classic “Never Can Say Goodbye” (#9 Pop, #1 Club Play), and The Four Tops “Reach Out, I’ll Be There”, Gloria Gaynor will establish herself as one of the top artists to emerge from the Disco Era. For her fifth album “Love Tracks”, the singer will be paired with former Motown staff songwriters and producers Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris. One of the songs they write for the album titled “I Will Survive”, will have special significance for Gaynor. During this period, she will lose her mother, also enduring crippling back pain that will require surgery on her spine. The singer loves the song, and immediately agrees to record it, actually cutting her vocals harnessed in a back brace while still recovering from surgery. The song is originally released as the B-side of the song “Substitute” in late 1978, much to Gaynor’s dismay, feeling that “I Will Survive” is the obvious hit. When her label Polydor Records refuses to listen, she will take action herself. She’ll give a copy of the record to Richie Kaczor, a DJ at the famed New York disco Studio 54, who immediately begins playing the record to overwhelmingly positive response. From there, other DJ’s will follow suit, forcing Polydor to quickly reissue the single with “Survive” as the A-side. Entering the Hot 100 at #87 on December 16, 1978, it will climb to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The songs’ positive message of empowerment in the face of adversity and will be adapted an anthem by women’s groups and by the gay community. Gaynor will also win the only Grammy Award awarded for Best Disco Recording in 1980, as the category will be discontinued the following year. “I Will Survive” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 10, 1967 - “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You”, the eleventh album by Aretha Franklin is released. Produced by Jerry Wexler, it is recorded at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL and Atlantic Studios in New York City from January - February 1967. Following the immediate breakout success of the single “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)”, producer Jerry Wexler will call Franklin and the musicians she recorded with in Alabama, to New York City in early February to quickly record an album to accompany it. Racing through a weeks’ worth recording sessions, the album will be completed and prepared for release. A huge critical and commercial success upon its release, the album will provide Franklin with her long awaited commercial breakthrough, and will also establish her as a major force in the music industry. It will spin off two singles including “Respect” (#1 R&B and Pop) and the title track (#1 R&B, #9 Pop). “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You” will spend 14 weeks at #1 (non-consecutive) on the Billboard R&B album chart, 3 weeks at #2 on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Born on this day: March 10, 1903 - Jazz music icon Bix Beiderbecke (born Leon Bismark Beiderbecke in Davenport, IA). Happy Birthday to this legendary jazz cornetist, and one of the greatest musicians of the 20th century, born 111 years ago today, and taken far too young at the age of 28 on August 6, 1931.
On this day in music history: March 9, 1987 - “The Joshua Tree”, the fifth studio album by U2 is released. Produced by Daniel Lanois and Brian Eno, it is recorded at STS, Danesmoate House, Melbeach and Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland from January 1986 - January 1987. After the release of U2’s previous album “The Unforgettable Fire” and the extensive world they undertake in support of it, the band will take their first extended break from the road, sitting out much of 1985 to rest and begin writing material for their next album. Many of the album’s songs are influenced by the band’s travels while touring the US in 1984-85, as well as their participation in the Amnesty International “Conspiracy Of Hope” tour in mid 1986. The albums’ cover photos are taken by photographer Anton Corbjin at the Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert in California. When Corbijn tells the band about the trees, that they had been named (according Mormon legend) after the prophet Joshua (in the Old Testament in the Bible), as the trees reminded them of the prophet with his hands raised in prayer. Out in the park, they will find one tree by itself (unusual since they normally grow in groups), and take several pictures standing next to the lone tree. Intrigued by the underlying religious significance, Bono will decide to name the album after the tree. The album will immediately be a huge critical and commercial success, cementing the band’s fame on a worldwide basis, breaking sales records in the UK, selling over 300,000 copies in just two days. In the US, it will enter the Top 200 at #7 on April 4, 1987, making it the highest chart debut since the Eagles’ album “The Long Run” in 1979. It will spin off four singles including the chart toppers “With Or Without You” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”. In February of 1988, it will win two Grammy Awards including Album Of The Year. “The Joshua Tree” will spend 9 weeks at #1 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified 10x Platinum in the US, receiving a Diamond Certification.
On this day in music history: March 9, 1985 - “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart on March 2, 1985. Written by Kevin Cronin, it is the biggest hit for the rock band from Champaign, IL. The band will experience unprecedented success with their ninth studio album “Hi-Infidelity” containing their first number one single “Keep On Lovin’ You”. REO Speedwagon will follow it up with the album “Good Trouble” in June of 1982. Though it will go Platinum (only a fraction of the nine million copies sold of the previous album), it will be looked upon as major disappointment by critics and many fans. Realizing this themselves, the band will make a conscientious effort to produce a stronger album next time out. Two months into recording their eleventh album “Wheels Are Turnin’”, the sessions will be abruptly cut off when the band members realize they do not have enough good material. Going their separate ways, they will go take time off to write more songs for the album. Lead singer Kevin Cronin will go to the Hawaiian island of Molokai to work on new material, when decides to revive a song idea he had intially come up with ten years before. He will finish the song, titling it “Can’t Fight This Feeling”, then playing it for his bandmates when the sessions resume. The others are initially not fond of the song, and begin referring to it as “that stupid ballad”, but will reluctantly record it. When the albums’ initial single “I Do’wanna Know” stops at #29 in December of 1984, “Can’t Fight This Feeling” will quickly follow it up. The power ballad will be an instant smash, on both pop and AC radio. Entering the Hot 100 at #46 on January 19, 1985, it will climb to the top of the chart eight weeks later. The success of “Feeling” will drive sales of “Wheels Are Turnin’” to 2x Platinum status in the US. “Can’t Fight This Feeling” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
Born on this day: March 9, 1958 - Martin Fry, songwriter and lead singer of ABC (born in Stockport, Cheshire, UK). Happy 56th Birthday, Martin!!
On this day in music history: March 9, 1975 - “Katy Lied”, the fourth studio album by Steely Dan is released. Produced by Gary Katz, it is recorded at ABC Recording Studios in Los Angeles, CA from November 1974 - January 1975. The album’s title is a play on the word “katydid”, the species of grasshopper that appears on the LP’s cover (taken by Fagen’s then girlfriend Dorothy White). Several of the songs will be piano based, with the duo utilizing keyboardist Michael Omartian to play on many of the tracks. For the sessions, they will use a seven foot long Bosendorfer grand piano (at the time costing over $13,000), which they will talk ABC Records into paying for. Becker and Fagen will experience major technical difficulties when the dbx noise reduction system malfunctions, rather than using the industry standard Dolby A noise reduction while mixing the album. In spite of efforts to correct the problem, they are unable to fix it entirely. Nearly deciding to scrap the album altogether, Becker and Fagen will release it as is but have refused to listen to it since. It will spin off two singles including “Black Friday” (#37 Pop) and “Bad Sneakers” (#103 Pop). In 1978, the audiophile label Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab will issue a half speed mastered pressing of the album. It will sell poorly upon its release, and is deleted not long after. Though it will end up becoming a sought after collector’s item after it goes out of print, commanding as much as $300 - 400 for a sealed copy. “Katy Lied” will peak at #13 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Born on this day: March 9, 1948 - Singer, songwriter and former lead singer of L.T.D., Jeffrey Osborne (born Jeffrey Linton Osborne in Providence, RI). Happy 66th Birthday, Jeffrey!!
On this day in music history: March 9, 1959 - “Venus” by Frankie Avalon hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks, also peaking at #10 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Ed Marshall, it is the biggest hit for the Philadelphia, PA singer and actor born Francis Thomas Avallone. Avallone will first become involved with music at the age of 11 when his father buys him a trumpet from a pawn shop after seeing actor Kirk Douglas in the film “Young Man With A Horn”. The young Avallone will quickly master the instrument and begins playing professionally while still in his teens, even signing a recording contract to RCA subsidiary X Records in 1954 as a member of the band Rocco & The Saints. In 1957, Avallone’s neighbor Bob Marcucci will start his own label Chancellor Records and sign Avallone. Angelicizing his name to Frankie Avalon, he will record two singles for Chancellor that will flop. For his third single, Marcucci and songwriter/co-producer Peter DeAngelis will write “Dede Dinah”, having Avalon sing it in a nasally voice. It will quickly become a hit peaking at #7 in February of 1958, after he performs the song on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand”. For his sixth single, Avalon will record a song brought to him by songwriter Ed Marshall. Sure that it is a hit, the singer will call Marcucci over quickly to hear it. Three days later, they will record “Venus” at Beltone Studios in New York City in only nine takes. Released in late January of 1959, the single is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #99 on February 9, 1959, it will rocket to the top of the chart four weeks later. “Venus” will establish Frankie Avalon as one of the preeminent “teen idols” of the era, which will lead to a successful career in movies when he is paired with former Mouseketeer Annette Funicello during the 60’s. Avalon’s label boss Bob Marcucci’s life story and the success he has with artists like Frankie Avalon and labelmate Fabian will become the basis of the 1980 film “The Idolmaker”. “Venus” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 8, 1994 - “Hard To Earn”, the fourth album by Gang Starr is released. Produced by DJ Premier and Guru, it is recorded at D&D Recording Studios in New York City from Mid 1992, Mid - Late 1993. The rap duo’s fourth release is a musical departure from their previous work, featuring a harder edged and more stripped down sound. The album features guest appearances from the Gang Starr Foundation collective including Jeru Tha Damaja, Group Home, and Big Shug as well as Nice & Smooth. The album will also be Gang Starr’s first to carry a parental advisory sticker. It will spin off four singles including “Mass Appeal” (#10 Rap, #42 R&B, #67 Pop), “Code Of The Streets” (#33 Rap, #83 R&B), “Suckas Need Bodyguards” (#44 Rap), and “DWYCK” (Featuring Nice & Smooth) (#25 Rap). “Hard To Earn” will peak at #2 on the Billboard R&B album chart and #25 on the Top 200.