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On this day in music history: October 14, 1967 - "Soul Man" by Sam & Dave hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for seven weeks, also peaking at #2 for three weeks on the Hot 100 on November 4, 1967. Written and produced by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, it will be the biggest hit for the R&B vocal duo. Songwriter and producer Isaac Hayes will come up with the initial idea for the song while watching television coverage of the riots in Detroit in July of 1967 between the police and African American citizens. Hayes will notice that residents had marked homes and businesses with the word "soul" to signify that they were African American owned and therefore not destroyed by rioters. Collaborating with longtime songwriting partner David Porter, the two will write the lyrics together. The track is recorded at Stax Studios in Memphis and features instrumental backing by Booker T. & The MG's. With its message of overcoming personal struggles and rising above adverse conditions, the song will also become an anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. "Soul Man" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 14, 1972 - "Ben" by Michael Jackson hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week, also peaking at #5 on the R&B singles chart. Written by Don Black and Walter Scharf, it is the first solo number one for the young Motown superstar. Written as the title song to the sequel of the 1971 film Willard, Walter Scharf (Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory) will be hired to write a theme song for the film. Scharf will call lyricist Don Black ("To Sir With Love," "Born Free") and ask him to write the lyrics. When the song is completed, singer Donny Osmond will be asked to sing the song, but due to scheduling conflicts he is unavailable to record it. Black will suggest Michael Jackson, and Jackson (a lover of animals, also owning several pet rats at the time) will enthusiatically agree to record the song. Entering the Hot 100 at #85 on August 5, 1972, it will climb to the top of the chart ten weeks later. 14-years-old at the time, it will make Jackson the third youngest artist in history to reach #1 on the US singles chart. "Ben" will also be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
On this day in music history: October 14, 1977 - Heroes, the 13th album by David Bowie is released. Produced by David Bowie and Tony Visconti, it is recorded at Hansa Studios by the Wall in West Berlin from July - August 1977. The second installment in Bowie's "Berlin Trilogy" (issued just nine months after Low), Bowie will once again collaborate on several songs with Brian Eno. Bowie will be heavily influenced by the atmosphere of Berlin while living in the city. This will be reflected on several songs, particularly the album's epic title track, which tells the story of two lovers who meet at the Berlin Wall. King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp will travel to Berlin from the US to play on the album, recording all of his lead guitar parts in one day. It is the only album of the "Trilogy" to be entirely recorded in the city of Berlin. Upon its release and in the years following, it will be regarded as one of the best albums of David Bowie's career. Heroes will peak at #3 on the UK album chart and #35 on the Billboard Top 200.
On this day in music history: October 14, 1980 - Faces, the tenth album by Earth, Wind & Fire is released. Produced by Maurice White, it is recorded at George Massenburg/ARC Studios in West Los Angeles; AIR Studios in Montserrat, W.I.; Davlen Sound Studios in North Hollywood; Wally Heider/Filmways Studio in Hollywood; and Royce Hall - UCLA in Westwood, CA in May - September 1980. Issued as the follow-up to the multi-Platinum selling I Am, the fifteen track double-album will feature band members Maurice and Verdine White, Al McKay, Philip Bailey, Larry Dunn, and Ralph Johnson either writing songs together or with outside collaborators including Brenda Russell, David Foster, and James Newton Howard. Coming off of seven platinum or multi-platinum-selling albums in a row, the initial response to Faces by the public and critics will be somewhat muted since it does not yield a major hit single. This is due in part to CBS Record's lackluster promotional support of the project. In later years, it will be regarded as one of Earth, Wind & Fire's finest and most stylistically diverse works. It will also be the last album to feature rhythm guitarist Al McKay who will leave the band shortly after it is released. Also, it will be the first Earth, Wind & Fire album not to be supported by an accompanying tour. It will spin off three singles including "Let Me Talk" (#8 R&B, #44 Pop), "You" (#10 R&B, #48 Pop), and "And Love Goes On" (#15 R&B, #59 Pop). Original LP pressings will feature the artist name and title embossed in gold ink on the gatefold jacket, coming packaged with an oversized poster of the band. Faces will peak at #2 on the Billboard R&B album chart, #10 on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 14, 1981 - Controversy, the fourth album by Prince is released. Produced by Prince, it is recorded at Uptown Studio (Kiowa Trail Home Studio) in Chanhassen, MN; and Sunset Sound and Hollywood Sound in Hollywood from April - July 1981. The fourth release by Prince will mark the beginning of major changes in the prolific musician's sound and songwriting. Much like his previous albums, it will feature Prince playing nearly all of the instruments and singing all of the vocals by himself. Controversy is the first album in which he will use his newly acquired Linn LM-1 drum machine, which will become a cornerstone of Prince's classic '80's era work. It will spin off three singles including "Let's Work" (#9 R&B), "Do Me Baby," and the title track (#3 R&B, #70 Pop). The original LP pressing will also come packaged with a poster of Prince standing in his shower clad in only black bikini underwear. The album will be reissued as 180g vinyl LP in 2011 by Warner Bros/Rhino Records, making the title available on vinyl for the first time in nearly twenty years. It will replicate the original album packaging including the poster. Controversy will peak at #3 on the Billboard R&B album chart, #21 on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 14, 1982 - Zapp II, the second album by Zapp is released. Produced by Roger Troutman, it is recorded at 5th Floor Recording Studios in Cincinnat and Sound Room East Studios in Detroit from late 1981 - mid 1982. A year after their self-titled debut album and shortly after completing his own successful solo album, The Many Facets of Roger, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Roger Troutman will rejoin the rest of Zapp in the studio begin work on their second release. Following much in the vein of their debut, the new album will be well-received, and is another smash for the Dayton, Ohio-based funk band. It will spin off two singles including "Dance Floor" (#1 R&B, #62 Pop) and "Doo Wa Ditty (Blow That Thing)" (#10 R&B). Zapp II will peak at #5 on the Billboard R&B album chart, #25 on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 14, 1983 - She's So Unusual, the debut album by Cyndi Lauper, is released. Produced by Rick Chertoff, William Wittman, and Cyndi Lauper, it is recorded at the Record Plant in New York City from December 1, 1982 - June 30, 1983. Having spent nearly a decade of singing in various cover bands, Lauper will suffer numerous hard knocks and career setbacks along the way, including damaged vocal chords, the break up of her band Blue Angel after the failure of their lone album, and personal bankruptcy. Her luck will turn around in 1981 when she meets David Wolff while singing in a local bar in New York City. Wolff will become her manager, helping her to secure a record deal with CBS/Epic subsidiary Portrait Records in 1982. Pairing the singer with producer Rick Chertoff, he will bring in his friends Rob Hyman (keyboards, synthesizers, backing vocals), and Eric Bazilian (bass, guitar, backing vocals), drummer Anton Fig, bassist Neil Jason, singer/songwriter Jules Shear, and Ellie Greenwich (backing vocals) to play on the album. Initially getting off to a slow start, things will pick up steam rapidly when the music video for the first single "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" (#2 Pop) goes into heavy rotation on MTV and other video outlets at the end of the year. The album will launch the Queens, NY born vocalist into pop superstardom, with Lauper becoming the first female artist in history to spin off four top five singles from one album, including "Time After Time" (#1 Pop), "She Bop" (#3 Pop), and "All Through The Night" (#5 Pop). The album will spend 65 weeks in the top 40 alone (77 weeks total on the Top 200), winning Cyndi the Grammy Award for Best New Artist in 1985. Unusual will also win a second Grammy (for art director Janet Perr) for Best Album Package. The LP's memorable front and back cover photos were taken by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz (Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair) at Coney Island in New York City. She's So Unusual will peak at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified 6x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: October 14, 1985 - Listen Like Thieves, the fifth album by INXS, is released. Produced by Chris Thomas, it is recorded at Rhinoceros Studios in Sydney, Australia from March - August 1985. After gaining a significant following outside of their native Australia with their previous albums, Shabooh Shoobah and The Swing, INXS's fifth release marks the beginning of a long and prosperous working relationship with producer Chris Thomas (Sex Pistols, The Pretenders, Elton John). Thomas will prove to be a demanding taskmaster in the studio. Just as the sessions are about to wrap, the producer will tell the band that out of the material they have recorded, he still doesn't hear a "hit." Guitar player and keyboardist Andrew Farriss will pull out a demo tape of a song he's been working on tentatively titled "Funk Song No. 13." Farriss will play it for lead singer Michael Hutchence, who will pen the lyrics for it overnight. The finished song is retitled "What You Need" (#5 Pop). The band will rehearse it on Sunday and then record it in its entirety on Monday. INXS will publicly perform the song for the first time during their segment of the Live Aid telecast in July of 1985, months before the album's release. Issued as the second single from the album, it will be the band's breakthrough hit in America, bolstered by an innovative rotoscope animated music video directed by Richard Lowenstein and Lyn-Marie Milbourn. It will spin off three other singles including "This Time" (#81 Pop), "Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)", and the title track (#54 Pop). Listen Like Thieves will peak at #11 on the Billboard Top 200 and is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.