Amoeblog


Where Would Music Be Without Gwen McCrae?

Posted by Smiles Davis, November 22, 2010 02:48pm | Post a Comment

Gwen Mosley was born December 21st, 1943, in Pensacola, Florida. Like most young black kids of that era, she sang in the church choir. Mosley met a sailor named George McCrae, also a singer, at the tender age of 20 and married a week later. She took his last name and the pair decided to collaborate and grace the world over with some baby making tunes. Now for you studious music lovers, George McCrae would later make classic solo hits like “I Get Lifted” which would go on to be sampled by numerous hip hop and R& B artists like Keith Murray, Pete Rock, Eric B, and Snoop Dogg, just to name a few.

Nearly 4 years after the dynamic duo crossed paths, Betty Wright discovered the pair and got them signed to Henry Stone's Alston Records. Yes, the same Betty Wright responsible for hits like “Clean Up Woman” written by Clarence Reid. There is a point to all this, I swear. You may know Clarence Reid by his alias, Blowfly. As Reid he wrote songs for other artists like the ones aforementioned as well as Sam & Dave and KC and the Sunshine Band. As Blowfly he would flip popular R & B songs into sexually explicit works of pure genius comedy. The first Blowfly “party record” came out in 1971, which many consider a form of primitive rapping. When the Sugarhill Gang released “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979, Blowfly followed with his own profane version called “Rapp Dirty" or "Blowfly’s Rapp." The song was a hit and helped his album, Blowfly's Party, reach #26 on Billboard magazine's Black Albums chart and #82 on the Billboard Top 200 in 1980.

Six years prior to the success of Blowfly, his pals Harry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch of KC and the Sunshine Band wrote and produced a song for their then demo that neither one could lay the vocals for. They approached Gwen with the opportunity to give the song the lift it needed with her immaculate high vocal range. Although she happily accepted the offer, she showed up late to the recording session. George had been there standing by, patiently waiting along with everyone else for his wife to grace them with her presence. When she didn’t show he stepped in and knocked the ball out of this century, as the single “Rock You Baby” went on to sell over 11 million copies world wide and reached #1 on the charts in 51 countries in 1974. So you see, Clarence Reid is worth mentioning for obvious reasons, but manly because he is the glue that binds them all, since he worked with KC, George, Betty and Gwen and had a long standing relationship with Henry Stone’s TK Records. TK Records was the label most notable for the early rise of disco; it was the label that put out most of their hits too, including Gwen’s reply record to “Rock You Baby,” titled “Rockin’ Chair.

Gwen and George would find it hard to maintain a healthy marriage after the two came into separate successes and would divorce in 1976 after recording their duet single “Winners Together, Losers Apart.” After the collapse of TK Records in 1981 Gwen would go on to record hits like "Funky Sensation" for Atlantic Records. George would later record uncredited vocals for the KC and The Sunshine Band hit “Queen of Clubs.” George recorded “I Get Lifted” one year after the explosive “Rock You Baby” and KC and his band would cover it before the demise of their relationship.

How would history differ had Gwen showed up on time to that famous recording session? Well, for starters she wouldn’t have released a reply record, one of the greatest love songs ever made, “Rocking Chair.” Now, if I had to assume I’d bet my money that she made this record out of spit, maybe not directed at her husband, but possibly at herself for dropping the ball and missing out on that golden opportunity. Guess the early bird really does get the worm. I can honestly say I’m glad she fumbled cause the classic follow up may never have been recorded. Or what about “90% of Me is You?” What if she had become the lead vocalist of KC and the Sunshine band and they had forced her to change her name to something overambitious like Star or Wild Child? Kinda like Gwen Dicky of Magic Wand… or better known to most as Rose Norwalt of Rose Royce. Had Gwen McCrae’s story to prominence been different, who knows, The Coup may never have been able to sample “The Rub” for “Fat Cats, Bigga Fish;Main Source may never have found a sample for “Just Hangin’ Out;” or Big Daddy Kane may never have finished “Brother Brother.” Oh, how history writes itself. So after all that, thank you Gwen McCrae for gracing us with your love and opulent talent all these years. 'Till next time...

Relevant Tags

Gwen Mccrae (2), George Mccrae (1), Blowfly (2), Snoop Dogg (14), Betty Wright (2), Tk Records (1)