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Born on this day: January 28, 1968 - Genius rapper and lyricist Rakim (born William Michael Griffin Jr. in Wyandanch, Long Island, NY). Happy 45th Birthday, Rakim!!
On this day in music history: January 28, 1984 - "If Only You Knew" by Patti LaBelle hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for four weeks, also peaking at #46 on February 25th. Written by Cynthia Biggs, Kenny Gamble, and Dexter Wansel, it is the first solo chart topper for Philadelphia-born R&B vocalist. Philadelphia International Records staff writer and producer Wansel will write the music and then collaborate with Biggs who will come up with the title and write most of the lyrics. Label co-owner and producer Gamble will help finish the lyrics. Gamble will also suggest that Patti LaBelle record the song. The track is originally recorded in 1981 during sessions for LaBelle's previous album, The Spirit's In It. The song will be shelved until it is pulled from the vault and included on what will be her final album for Philadelphia International Records. Released as the first single from LaBelle's sixth solo release I'm In Love Again, it is an immediate smash at black radio and becomes her first solo #1. LaBelle will quickly score two more hits with the follow up "Love, Need, And Want You" (#10 R&B) as well as the duet "Love Has Finally Come At Last" (#3 R&B) with Bobby Womack. LaBelle will suddenly become a hot property and is quickly signed by MCA Records, where she will go on to even greater success.
On this day in music history: January 28, 1985 - "We Are The World" by USA For Africa is recorded. Singer/actor and activist Harry Belafonte and artist manager Ken Kragen will be the catalysts for the getting the project off the ground. After the release of Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas," the two will come up with the idea of also doing a similar benefit record featuring American recording artists. They will begin contacting musicians who would be interested in participating. The first people contacted are Lionel Richie and Kenny Rogers who are both managed by Kragen. Belafonte will contact Stevie Wonder and Quincy Jones (the latter is enlisted to produce the record). Jones in turn will contact Michael Jackson, suggesting that Jackson, Wonder, and Richie write the song. With Stevie recording an album at the time, he is unable to participate in writing the song. Once Michael and Lionel get to work on the song, they will make fast progress, writing and demoing the song in a weeks' time. On January 22nd, six days before the vocal tracking session, the basic track for "We Are The World" is recorded at Kenny Rogers' studio Lion Share in Los Angeles. Two days later, demo tapes are shipped out to all of the participating artists with strict instructions to not make copies of the contents, and to return the tapes the night of the recording session, which is set for Monday night, January 28th, following the American Music Awards. 45 popular recording artists (including Bruce Springsteen, Steve Perry, Daryl Hall, Tina Turner, Diana Ross, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Dionne Warwick, Billy Joel, and Bob Dylan among them) will gather on the soundstage at A&M Studios in Hollywood to record the vocals the song. All of the sales and publishing royalties generated from the single, album and related merchandising will go to benefit African famine relief. "We Are The World" will be released on Thursday, March 7th, and is an instant smash, selling out of its initial pressing of 800,000 copies in just two days. It will go on to sell over four million copies in the US alone.
On this day in music history: January 28, 1985 - Crazy From The Heat, the debut solo release by David Lee Roth is released. Produced by Ted Templeman, it is recorded at The Power Station in New York City, Lion Share Studios in Los Angeles, and Amigo Studios in North Hollywood in Late 1984. While still a member of Van Halen, Roth will test the waters for a potential solo project by recording a 4 track EP. The record consists of cover versions of songs originally recorded by The Beach Boys, Edgar Winter Group, Louis Prima, and The Lovin' Spoonful. It will spin off two hit singles including "California Girls" (#3 Pop), and "Medley: Just A Gigolo/I Ain't Got Nobody" (#12 Pop), both of which are supported by imaginative and highly entertaining music videos which will be rotated heavily on MTV and other video outlets. Crazy From The Heat will peak at #15 on the Billboard Top 200 and will be certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.