Music History Monday: December 2

Posted by Jeff Harris, December 2, 2013 09:30am | Post a Comment

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On this day in music history: December 2, 1967 - "Daydream Believer" by The Monkees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks. Written by John Stewart, it is the third (and final) #1 single for The Monkees. Though it is recorded during sessions for the band's fourth album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd., it will be released initially as a stand alone single. It will be included on their next full-length release The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees. Singer and songwriter John Stewart ("Gold") will write the song while he is still a member of the folk music band The Kingston Trio. The song will be brought to The Monkees by their producer Chip Douglas, assigning it to Davy Jones to sing. Initially Davy isn't fond of the song, unsure that it will be a hit. Any doubt about its hit potential will be quickly erased as soon as it's released. Entering the Hot 100 at #33 on November 18, 1967, it will shoot to the top of the chart only three weeks later. "Daydream Believer" will become a hit again in early 1980 when country/pop singer Anne Murray's version tops the Adult Contemporary chart, as well as peaking at #3 on the country chart and #12 on the Hot 100. The Monkees version of "Daydream Believer" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Also on December 2, 1967, the album Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for five weeks. Produced by Chip Douglas, it is recorded at RCA Victor Studios A, B, & C in Hollywood from June - October 1967. Unlike the band's first three albums, which prominently feature Micky Dolenz on lead vocals, guitarist Mike Nesmith will take a more proactive role in the production of Pisces, writing two songs and singing lead on five tracks. It will also feature contributions from songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin ("Pleasant Valley Sunday," "Star Collector"), Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil ("Love Is Only Sleeping"), and future stars Harry Nilsson ("Cuddly Toy") and Michael Martin Murphey ("What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?"). The album will take its title from the members astrological signs. Nesmith and Davy Jones, both being Capricorn will place Jones' surname at the end of the title to avoid confusion. Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. will be certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.  

On this day in music history: December 2, 1972 - "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" by The Temptations hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week, also peaking at #2 on the R&B singles chart on the same date. Written and produced by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, it is the fourth and final number one pop single for the veteran Motown vocal group. The song is originally recorded by The Undisputed Truth ("Smiling Faces Sometimes") in 1971 with their version peaking at #24 on the R&B singles chart and #63 on the Hot 100. When The Temptations hear the track for the first time, initially they are unhappy with the song's extended intro (the first vocal doesn't begin until nearly four minutes into the LP version and nearly two minutes into the single version). The opening lyric ("It was the third of September, that day I'll always remember, yes I will. 'Cause that was the day, that my daddy died.") will also be particularly upsetting to lead singer Dennis Edwards. Though Edwards father died on the third of October (not the third of September as was the often repeated legend), it will still hit a little too close to home. Ever the hard driving perfectionist in the studio, Whitfield will have the group recut their vocals numerous times much to their annoyance, though it will result in the performance captured on the finished record. The twelve-minute-long album track is edited down to just under seven minutes for single release. In spite of its length, the record is an across-the-board smash. "Papa Was A Rollin' Stone" will win three Grammy Awards including Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group, Best R&B Instrumental Performance, and Best R&B song. "Papa" will also be covered numerous times over the years, including one by musician Bill Wolfer in 1982 that features Michael Jackson on background vocals. George Michael will also perform the song as part of a medley with Adamski and Seal's song "Killer" in 1992 at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert and released on the EP Five Live. "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: December 2, 1978 - "Le Freak" by Chic hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for five weeks, also hitting #1 on the Hot 100 for six weeks (non-consecutive) on December 9, 1978. Written and produced by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, it is the first number one single for the New York-based R&B/Funk band. The song is inspired by an incident when Edwards and Rodgers are denied entry into Studio 54 on New Year's Eve 1977 after being invited by Grace Jones. The duo will encounter the disco's notoriously brash doorman Marc Benecke, who will brusquely tell them that they are not on the guest list. Upset at the rebuff, the pair will go back to Rodgers apartment around the corner and jam, coming up with the song, initially titled "F*** Off." Realizing that they're on to something, the lyric will be changed, from "f*** off" to "freak out." Taking into mind the current popular dance "the freak," they will re-title the song "Le Freak." Released in September as the first single from the band's second album C'est Chic, it will become the largest selling single in the history of Atlantic Records, shifting more than six million copies in the US alone. "Le Freak" will make further history on the Hot 100 when the record hits number one three times during its run on the charts. After it hits the top the pop chart on December 9, 1978, it will be bumped from the top by "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond returning to the top (on December 16, 1978) after being displaced by "Le Freak." It will hold on to #1 for two more weeks over the Christmas holiday before being bumped from the top by The Bee Gees' "Too Much Heaven" on January 6, 1979. Startlingly, two weeks later, Chic will return to the top for the third and final time on January 20, 1979 for two more weeks. "Le Freak" is certified 3x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: December 2, 1978 - "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra Streisand & Neil Diamond will hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks (non-consecutive). Written by Marilyn & Alan Bergman and Neil Diamond, it is the third number one single for the superstar duo. The song is originally written for a short lived TV series created by Norman Lear (All In The Family, Sanford & Son, The Jeffersons), the song will not be used when the shows original concept is changed. Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond will initially cut solo versions of the song, which appear on their then current albums. A radio station in Louisville, Kentucky will edit the two versions together, creating a new duet version. The response is so overwhelmingly positive that the pair will go into the studio and re-cut the song as an actual duet, which is rush released as a single in October 1978. Entering the Hot 100 at #48 on October 28, 1978,  the single will race to the top of the chart five weeks later. It will relinquish the top spot to Chic's "Le Freak" for one week on December 9, 1978, falling back to #3. It will leap back to the top for one more week on December 16, 1978 before "Le Freak" retakes the number one spot. Streisand and Diamond will turn in a highly memorable live performance of "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" at the 22nd Annual Grammy Awards on February 27, 1980. Without any introduction, the singers walk on to the stage from opposite ends to rapturous applause even before they can begin singing. Though they will lose the Best Pop Vocal Performance By A Duo Or Group Grammy to The Doobie Brothers' "Minute By Minute," the performance will go down in history as one of the award show's greatest moments. "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.


On this day in music history: December 2, 1983 - "Michael Jackson's Thriller" makes its debut on MTV. Directed by John Landis (National Lampoon's Animal House, The Blues Brothers), the nearly fourteen-minute-long short film based on the title track to Michael Jackson's blockbuster album will become an immediate phenomenon. An homage to the classic horror film genre (particularly the Michael Landon film I Was A Teenage Werewolf, and director Landis's An American Werewolf In London), the film stars Jackson with former Playboy model and actress Ola Ray. The film's dance sequences are choreographed by MJ and famed choreographer Michael Peters ("Beat It," "Running With The Night"), with make-up and prosthetics designed by Oscar winning make up artist Rick Baker. Jackson's signature red leather jacket is designed by costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the wife of Thriller's director. Filmed at a cost of $500,000, it will take the art of the music video to another level becoming the most celebrated and honored in the medium. Its impact will be immediately felt, sending the album back to number one over the Christmas holiday, spending another 17 consecutive weeks at the top of the Top 200. The "Thriller" short film will also be released on home video as part of a full length documentary titled "The Making Of Michael Jackson's Thriller" that will set video sales records (selling a total of 9 million copies overall), winning a Grammy Award for Best Video Album in 1985. "Thriller" will be inducted into the National Film Registry by the Library Of Congress in 2009 for its ongoing cultural and historic significance.

On this day in music history: December 2, 1989 - "Here And Now" by Luther Vandross hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for two weeks, also peaking at #6 on the Hot 100 on April 21, 1990. Written by Terry Steele and David Elliott, it is the fifth and final R&B chart topper for the New York-born R&B singer, songwriter, and producer. Vandross will be hanging out at longtime friend Dionne Warwick's house one day playing video games, when David Elliott (Warwick's son) asks him if he would listen to some new song demos he has just recorded. Luther will agree, and the second of the three songs will catch his ear. Titled "Here And Now," Luther will rearrange the song significantly from the original demo by the time he records it. One of two new songs cut for his first greatest hits album The Best Of Luther Vandross... The Best Of Love, the song will not only be Vandross' first top ten pop single, it will also win him his first Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male after nine previous nominations and losses. "Here And Now" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Relevant Tags

Neil Diamond (9), Barbra Streisand (10), Chic (5), The Temptations (8), The Monkees (8), Music History Monday (83), Michael Jackson (66), Luther Vandross (6)