Born on this day: June 18, 1961 - Singer and songwriter Alison Moyet (born Geneviève Alison Jane Moyet in Billericay, Essex, UK). Happy 52nd Birthday, “Alf”!!
On this day in music history: June 17, 1978 - “Shadow Dancing” by Andy Gibb hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 7 weeks. Written by Barry, Robin, Maurice, and Andy Gibb, it is the third consecutive chart topper for the singer and songwriter from The Isle Of Man, UK. While his debut single “I Just Want To Be Your Everything” and the accompanying album “Flowing Rivers” are steadily climbing the charts in the US and abroad, singer Andy Gibb, with the assistance of his older brothers the Bee Gees will begin work on his second album. All four brothers will collaborate on “Shadow Dancing” while the Bee Gees are filming “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in L.A. in mid 1977. Recording will begin at Wally Heider Studios in Los Angeles, CA, with overdubs and final mixing completed at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL. Released as a single in April 1978, it will quickly become a smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #69 on April 15, 1978, it will rise to the top of the chart nine weeks later. Gibb at only twenty years old, will become the first solo artist in history to have his first three singles reach #1 in the US, achieving this feat in just 11 months. “Shadow Dancing” is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA, selling over 2.5 million copies in the US alone, and will be ranked as the top single of 1978 by Billboard Magazine.
On this day in music history: June 16, 1979 - “Ring My Bell” by Anita Ward hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 5 weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for 2 weeks on June 30th. Written and produced by Frederick Knight, it is the biggest hit for the former school teacher turned singer from Memphis, TN. The song is originally written and intended for then 13 year old singer Stacy Lattisaw. When Lattisaw does not end up signing with Knight’s production company (signing with Atlantic Records instead), Knight will re-write the lyrics, originally about kids talking on the telephone, to something more suited for an adult singer. Anita Ward, a 22 year old former school teacher from Memphis, TN will be given the song for her debut album. The track is cut at Malaco Studios in Jackson, MS and released on Knight’s Juana Records (distributed by Miami, FL based TK Records). The record will be remixed by famed New York club DJ Richie Rivera, which will turn it into a worldwide hit. “Ring My Bell” will sell over 2.5 million copies in the US alone.
On this day in music history: June 15, 1981 - The self-titled debut album by Duran Duran is released. Produced by Colin Thurston, it is recorded at Red Bus Studios, Abbey Road Studios, Utopia Studio in London, and Chipping Norton Recording Studios, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire, UK from October - December 1980. The Birmingham, UK band will be at the forefront of the New Romantic movement sweeping England at the time of its release. Boasting a wide variety of musical influences including David Bowie, The Sex Pistols and American R&B/dance music pioneers Chic, Duran Duran will marry these musical genres together developing their own unique sound. The album will be a huge success in their native country spinning off three singles including “Planet Earth” (#12 UK) and “Girls On Film” (#5 UK). It will go largely unnoticed in the US on its initial release, until it is reissued in April 1983 following their breakthrough success with their second album “Rio”. The album is repackaged with redesigned cover art, removing the track “To The Shore” and replacing it with the then new single “Is There Something I Should Know?” (#1 UK, #4 US Pop). “Duran Duran” will peak at #3 on the UK album chart, #10 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 13, 1988 - “Forever Your Girl”, the debut album by Paula Abdul is released. Produced by Oliver Leiber, Glen Ballard, Elliot Wolff, L.A. Reid & Babyface, Jesse Johnson, and Curtis Williams, it is recorded at Creation Audio in Minneapolis, MN, Studio Masters, Silverlake Studios, Keith “K.C.” Cohen Studios, JHL Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Studio 55 and Kren Studio in Hollywood, CA, House Of Music Studios in West Orange, NJ, and Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA from Late 1987 - Early 1988. The former L.A. Lakers cheerleader/choreographer will begin recording her debut album for Virgin Records at night while working on dance sequences for the Eddie Murphy comedy “Coming To America” during the day. The album will initially get off to a slow start, but will quickly pick up momentum when the third single “Straight Up” (#1 Pop) breaks on top 40 pop radio. It will spin off a total of six hit singles, five of them reaching the top five (four #1’s) on the Hot 100 including “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me” (#3 Pop, #10 R&B), “Cold Hearted” (#1 Pop), “Opposites Attract” (#1 Pop), and the title track (#1 Pop). “Girl” will set a Billboard chart record for the slowest climb to #1, finally reaching the top in its 64th week on the Top 200. It will also win Abdul a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Video for the single “Opposites Attract” in 1990. “Forever Your Girl” will spend 10 weeks (non-consecutive) at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified 7x Platinum by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 13, 1983 - “She Works Hard For The Money”, the eleventh studio album by Donna Summer is released. Produced by Michael Omartian, it is recorded at Lion’s Share Studios in Los Angeles, CA, Hollywood Sound Recorders in Hollywood, CA, and Rhema Studios in Beverly Hills, CA from Late 1982 - Early 1983. Following the release of her self-titled second album on Geffen Records (produced by Quincy Jones) issued after the label shelves her “I’m A Rainbow” album in 1981, Summer will work with producer Michael Omartian (Christopher Cross, Rod Stewart) on the follow up album. Having sued to get of out her contract with Casablanca Records in 1980, Summer will leave the label owing her former label one more album. “Money” will be released on to Polygram’s Mercury Records imprint (after Casablanca’s demise), in order to fulfill her final contractual obligation to Casablanca. To everyone’s surprise, the album will be a major critical and commercial success, spinning off three singles including the title track (#1 R&B, #3 Pop, #3 Club Play) and “Unconditional Love” (#9 R&B, #43 Pop), and becoming her biggest selling album since “Bad Girls” four years before. The album will receive a pair of Grammy nominations including a win for Best Inspirational Performance for the track “He’s A Rebel”. “She Works Hard For The Money” will peak at #9 on the Billboard Top 200, #5 on the R&B album chart, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 11, 1977 - “I’m Your Boogie Man” by KC & The Sunshine Band hits # 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also peaking at #3 on the R&B singles chart on June 4th. Written and produced by Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch, it is the fourth chart topping single for the R&B/Disco band from Hialeah, FL led by keyboardist and lead singer Harry Wayne “KC” Casey. Casey and Finch will write the song as a tribute to a Miami radio DJ named Robert W. Walker who was instrumental in helping break the bands’ first chart topping single “Get Down Tonight”. On the LP, “Boogie” is paired together with “Keep It Comin’ Love” (#2 Pop, #1 R&B), with the two songs edited so that they segue into each and play as one long continuous song. “I’m Your Boogie Man” will be issued as the second single from the bands’ fourth studio album “Part 3”. Entering the Hot 100 at #84 on February 26, 1977, it will climb to the top of the chart fourteen weeks later. “I’m Your Boogie Man” will also be covered by White Zombie in 1996 for the soundtrack to “The Crow - City Of Angels”. The original version is featured in the film “Scary Movie” and its sequels, the comedy “Superbad”, as well as the 2011 action adventure film “Watchmen”.
On this day in music history: June 9, 1979 - “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #2 on the Hot 100 on June 16th. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the second consecutive chart topper and title track from the groups’ third album. Following the success of Chic’s self-titled debut album and the singles “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah)” and “Everybody Dance”, Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers will be offered the opportunity to work with any artist they choose on the Atlantic Records roster. Instead of opting to produce one of the labels’ established stars like The Rolling Stones or Bette Midler, they will ask who has sold the fewest records. The Atlantic executive will mention Sister Sledge, a family quartet from Philadelphia who have been with the label since 1975, but have only had minimal sales and chart success. In spite of this, the label is very fond of the group saying that “they’re good girls and feel like family to us”. That conversation will provide the inspiration for what will become Sister Sledge’s biggest hit. The main riff of “We Are Family” will be inspired by a song called “Do What You Wanna Do” by Puerto Rican singer Martha Veléz. Recorded at The Power Station in New York City, lead singer Kathy Sledge will deliver her lead vocal on the song in just one take, with Bernard Edwards feeding her the lyrics through her headphones one line at a time while tracking her vocals. A huge crossover smash, “We Are Family” will be adopted as an anthem for various sports organizations including the Pittsburgh Pirates, and is featured in numerous films and television shows. Songwriter/producer Nile Rodgers will also form the non profit “We Are Family Foundation” in 2001 to create programs to educate and inspire people to solve problems affecting the world. “We Are Family” will be certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: June 5, 1976 - “Young Hearts Run Free” by Candi Staton hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #20 on the Hot 100 on August 21st. Written and produced by Dave Crawford, it will be the biggest hit for the Alabama born and raised R&B vocalist. Considered one of the quintessential Southern Soul artists, singer Candi Staton will cut her most successful record not in her native south, but in Southern California. Paired with producer Dave Crawford, best known for his work with The Mighty Clouds Of Joy and B.B. King, they will cut the track for “Young Hearts Run Free” at Sound City Studios in Van Nuys, CA. The single features musicians such as Ray Parker, Jr. and Jay Graydon on guitars, Ollie Brown on drums, Scott Edwards (Stuff) on bass, Funk Brothers percussionist Jack Ashford, Sylvester Rivers, Sonny Burke and Michael Boddicker on keyboards, and also features Rochelle Runnells of Stargard and Deniece Williams on background vocals. Regarded as a seminal R&B/Disco classic, “Young Hearts Run Free” has been covered numerous times over the years, most notably by Kym Mazelle on the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s film “Romeo + Juliet” and by Gloria Estefan for the “Desperate Housewifes” TV series.
On this day in music history: June 4, 1979 - “Good Times” by Chic is released. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, It is the second R&B and Pop chart topper for the New York City based R&B/Funk/Disco band led by musicians Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. The track is recorded The Power Station in New York City in March 1979, during sessions for Chic’s third album “Risque”. Edwards and Rodgers will develop the concept of the song from 1930’s Depression era “Tin Pan Alley” pop songs such as “Happy Days Are Here Again” and “About A Quarter To Nine”, juxtaposing them with then current state of the economy in America along with the celebratory hedonism of the Disco Era in the late 70’s. “Good Times” will be an instant smash upon its release, quickly racing up the charts, hitting #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 6 weeks on July 28th and #1 on the Hot 100 for 1 week on August 18th. The songs’ popularity and influence will spread even further when it becomes the basis of The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight”, giving rise to the rap music phenomenon. “Good Times” will become one of the most important and influential records of the late 20th century and beyond. “Good Times” will be certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.