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On this day in music history: July 8, 1950 - "Mona Lisa" by Nat King Cole hits #1 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart for eight weeks, also topping the Rhythm & Blues charts for four weeks on September 2nd. Written by Ray Evans and Jay Livingston, the song is featured in the film Captain Carey, U.S.A. starring Alan Ladd. Arranged by Nelson Riddle and with instrumental backing by Les Baxter & His Orchestra, Cole's version of the song is featured on the film's soundtrack. "Mona Lisa" will win the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1951, quickly becoming a pop standard and is covered by numerous artists over the years, though Cole' version will be regarded as the definitive version. Nat King Cole's recording of "Mona Lisa" will be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1992.
On this day in music history: July 8, 1957 - "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear" by Elvis Presley hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart, also topping the Country & Western chart for one week on August 5th and the Rhythm & Blues chart for one week on September 2nd. Written by Kal Mann and Bernie Lowe, it is the rock & roll icon's seventh number one single in just under 15 months. Songwriters Mann and Lowe (co-founders of Philadelphia based Cameo-Parkway Records) will hear of a rumor started (no one is certain where or by whom) that Elvis Presley collected teddy bears, leading his fans to send him thousands of the cuddly toys. That will provide the inspiration for the pair to write the song for Presley's second film, Loving You. The track is recorded at Radio Recorders in Hollywood on January 24, 1957 with Presley's regular band including Scotty Moore (guitar), Bill Black (bass), D.J. Fontana (drums), and The Jordanaires (background vocals). Entering the Best Sellers chart at #23 on June 24, 1957, it will pole vault to the top of the chart two weeks later. "Teddy Bear" will quickly sell over two million copies in the US, and is the third of four chart topping singles for Elvis during 1957. Presley will become the only artist in history to hold the top spot on the pop singles chart for 25 weeks, which he will do consecutively in both 1956 and 1957.
On this day in music history: July 8, 1958 - Oklahoma! - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA. The film soundtrack to the hit stage musical written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein features actors Gordon MacRae, Shirley Jones, James Whitmore, and Rod Steiger. Released by Capitol Records in August of 1955 (initially in mono only, then in true stereo in 1958), it will become the first album in history to a receive Gold certificiation from the Recording Industry Association of America. Originally established in 1952, the organization will initate an award program to acknowledge the sales achievements of best selling albums and singles. Initially, the Gold award is given to recordings that achieve over $1,000,000 in record sales in the US. In 1975, the criteria for Gold status will change, representing the sales of over 500,000 units shipped for a full length album and 1,000,000 units for a single. In 1989, the sales criteria for Gold singles will be reduced to 500,000 units to reflect the then declining sales of singles.
On this day in music history: July 8, 1972 - "Lean On Me" by Bill Withers hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for one week on June 24th. Written and produced by Bill Withers, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter, and musician from Slab Fork, WV. Withers will be inspired to write the song after moving to Los Angeles from his small hometown in West Virginia. Missing the close community ties and support of his home, he writes it as a form of encouragement to those who find themselves on their own, and without their friends and family to hold them up. Having purchased a new Wurlitzer electric piano, Withers will spontaneously come up with the main chord progression (C major, D major, and E major). In the studio, he will record the track with members of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band including James Gadson (drums), Melvin Dunlap (bass), Benorce Blackman (guitar), and Ray Jackson (keyboards). Issued as the first single from his second studio album Still Bill, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on April 22, 1972, it will climb to the top of the chart eleven weeks later "Lean On Me" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA. The song will also win Withers a Grammy Award in 1987 for Best R&B Song when Club Nouveau's cover version takes the song to #1 for a second time in March of 1987.
On this day in music history: July 8, 1972 - "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right" by Luther Ingram hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for four weeks, also peaking at #3 on the Hot 100 on August 5th. Written by Homer Banks, Raymond Jackson, and Carl Hampton, it is the biggest hit for the Tennessee born R&B singer. The song is originally for The Emotions, but the writers change their minds about giving them the song. Two years later, Luther Ingram will hear the demo version of the song and ask to record it. Ingram will record the track with members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section including Roger Hawkins, Barry Beckett, Jimmy Johnson, and Pete Carr. The deeply soulful and sexy song about a married man carrying on an illicit affair with another woman will immediately resonate with the public. Released on Stax's Koko Records imprint, "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right" will quickly top the R&B charts, and become a crossover smash on the pop charts, climbing into the top five on the pop singles chart on the heels of its R&B chart success. "(If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want To Be Right" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 8, 1978 - "Close The Door" by Teddy Pendergrass hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for two weeks, also peaking at #25 on the Hot 100 on September 16th. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, it is the first solo chart topper for the former lead singer for Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes. Philadelphia International Records co-founders Gamble and Huff will craft the song specifically for Pendergrass, playing on his reputation as a ladies man, and for his powerful, rich baritone voice. Issued as the lead single from his second solo album Life Is A Song Worth Singing in April of 1978, "Close The Door" will cement Pendergrass' reputation as sex symbol with a large and loyal female fanbase. "Close The Door" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA, driving his album to the top of the R&B album chart (for two weeks, #11 Pop) to 2x Platinum status.
On this day in music history: July 8, 1989 - "Good Thing" by Fine Young Cannibals hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week. Written by David Steele and Roland Gift, it is the second chart-topping single for the Birmingham, UK trio. Originally written in 1987 for the Barry Levinson film Tin Men (starring Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito), the band will be featured, playing a nightclub band performing the song (and three others). While shooting the film, Levinson will use tracks from the bands' first album as a temporary soundtrack. He will invite them to contribute new music as well as make a cameo appearance in the film. The band will write four songs for the film including '60s flavored song "Good Thing." The song will be officially released on FYC's second album The Raw And The Cooked in late 1988. Issued as the follow up to their first chart topper "She Drives Me Crazy," "Good Thing" will enter the Hot 100 at #69 on May 6, 1989, climbing to the top of the chart nine weeks later.>br>
On this day in music history: July 8, 1989 - "Keep On Movin'" by Soul II Soul hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for two weeks, also peaking at #11 on the Hot 100 on September 9th. Written by Beresford Romeo, it is first US chart topper for the British sound system/musical collective. Led by Jazzie B. (Romeo) and Nellee Hooper, the duo will meet four years earlier in 1985 when Hooper's group Massive Attack hires Jazzie B's DJ sound system for a gig in London. A misunderstanding over who will be spinning will cause the two to argue, but they will soon settle their differences and decide to join forces. Gathering together a loose group of musicians and singers, they begin to record as Soul II Soul. Signed to Virgin's 10 Records subsidiary in the UK, they will quickly score two club hits with the singles "Fairplay" (featuring Rose Windross) and "Feel Free" (featuring Do'reen). "Keep On Movin'" will be the band's third single release in the UK, with former background vocalist Caron Wheeler (Afrodizak) featured on lead vocals. After reaching #5 on the UK singles chart, it will rapidly become a dance floor sensation in the US as an import release, prompting Virgin Records to release it domestically. Issued in tandem with their debut album Club Classics Volume One (retitled Keep On Movin' for its US release), it will quickly become a staple on R&B radio stations, following suit on Top 40 pop radio. The songs' downtempo, Hip Hop flavored rhythm (said to be inspired by Biz Markie's 1986 rap hit "Pickin' Boogers") augmented with lush strings and piano, will revolutionize and change the face of dance and R&B music for the next several years. "Keep On Movin'" is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: July 8, 1995 - "Waterfalls" by TLC hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, also peaking at #4 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written by Marqueze Etheridge, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, and Organized Noize, it is the second pop chart topper for the Atlanta-based R&B vocal trio. Written specifically for TLC, the production team Organized Noize will base the song on both personal experiences and those of people in their inner circle of friends and family. Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes' rap will be inspired by her difficult upbringing and personal struggles. She will pen the lyrics on the way to the studio, having been released from police custody after unintentionally burning down the mansion of her then boyfriend, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Andre Rison. Released as the third single from their second album CrazySexyCool, it will become TLC's biggest single. Entering the Hot 100 at #39 on June 10, 1995, it will race to the top of the chart four weeks later. The song will be supported by a memorable and cutting edge music video directed by F. Gary Gray. "Waterfalls" will receive Grammy Nominations for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Record Of The Year, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.