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On this day in music history: February 17, 1962 - "Duke Of Earl" by Gene Chandler (Born Eugene Dixon) hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for five weeks on the same date. Written by Bernice Williams, Eugene Dixon, and Earl Edwards, it is the biggest hit for the R&B vocalist. The song will originate as a vocal warm up exercise in the doo wop group The Dukays, in which Chandler and Edwards were both members. Entering the Hot 100 at #93 on January 13, 1962, it will leap to the top of the chart five weeks later. "Duke Of Earl" will become the first million selling single for Chicago-based independent label Vee-Jay Records. When Chandler performs the song live, he will often appear dressed in a black waist coat and tails with topped off with a matching black cape and top hat. The song will be covered numerous times over the years and will be sampled as the basis of Cypress Hill's "Hand On The Pump" in 1991. "Duke Of Earl" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 17, 1966 - The Beach Boys will begin recording the single "Good Vibrations" at United/Western Recorders in Hollywood. Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love, inspiration for the song will have its origins in a conversation that Brian Wilson has with his mother Audree as a child, who will tell him that dogs will bark at some people and not at others because of the "vibrations" they sense coming from them. the initial recording session will have Wilson working with members of The Wrecking Crew cutting 26 takes of the instrumental track. Seventeen more sessions at three other recording studios will take place over the next six months as the song is refined. The end product will be generate over 90 hours of tape and cost an unprecedented $50,000. At the time of its October 1966 release, it will be the most expensive single ever recorded. First issued as a stand alone single, it is intended to be the cornerstone of the album Smile, which is originally scheduled for release in early 1967. However, Wilson's fragile emotional state, exacerbated by drug use and inner band conflict over the direction of the project will lead to the album being shelved until 2011. The Smile Sessions box set will include an alternate stereo mix of "Good Vibrations."
On this day in music history: February 17, 1968 - "I Wish It Would Rain" by The Temptations will hit #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for three weeks, also peaking at #4 on the Hot 100 on the same date. Written by Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong, and Roger Penzabene, it is the sixth R&B chart topper for the Motown vocal quintet. The song will be inspired after songwriter Roger Penzabene discovers that his wife is cheating on him. Penzabene's wife will actually be the subject of several songs that will become hits for The Temptations including "You're My Everything" (#3 R&B, #6 Pop), "I Could Never Love Another (After Loving You)," (#1 R&B, #13 Pop) and "The End Of Our Road" (recorded by Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight & The Pips). Distraught over her infidelity, Penzabene will commit suicide on New Year's Eve 1967, just ten days after "I Wish It Would Rain" is released. Featuring musical backing by The Funk Brothers, the basic track for "Rain" is recorded at Motown's Studio A in Detroit on April 22, 1967, with The Temptations overdubbing their vocals on August 31, 1967. It will be the final Temptations single to feature David Ruffin on lead vocals, who will be fired from the group for his erratic behavior fueled by drug use. He will be replaced by former Contours member Dennis Edwards. "I Wish It Would Rain" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 17, 1969 - Cloud Nine, the seventh studio album by The Temptations is released. Produced by Norman Whitfield, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit from late Summer 1968 - January 1969. It will mark a major turning point in the group's career and sound, and is also the first album to feature new lead vocalist Dennis Edwards. Heavily influenced by Sly & The Family Stone, Whitfield will revamp their sound which will be dubbed "psychedelic soul." It will spin off two singles including "Runaway Child, Running Wild" (#1 R&B, #6 Pop) and the title track (#2 R&B, #6 Pop), which will win The Tempts their first Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance By A Duo, Group Or Chorus in 1969. It will go on to be a landmark album in the Motown Records catalog, becoming one of its best selling titles. Cloud Nine will spend 13 weeks (non-consecutive) at #1 on the Billboard R&B album chart, #4 on the Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 17, 1973 - "Love Train" by The O'Jays hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for four weeks, also topping the Hot 100 for one week on March 24, 1973. Written and produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, it will be the second consecutive R&B and only pop chart-topper for the R&B vocal trio from Canton, OH. Having previously worked with the O'Jays while they were signed to Neptune Records in the late 60's, producer and songwriters Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff will make The O'Jays one of the first signings to their newly established Philadelphia International Records. When coming up with material for the group, Gamble and Huff will take inspiration from the Martha & The Vandellas song "Dancing In The Street" when they begin writing "Love Train." After the follow up single to "Back Stabbers," "992 Arguments" (#13 R&B, #57 Pop) performs decently on the R&B chart but not as well on the pop chart, the label will issue "Love Train" as the third single from Back Stabbers. Released in mid-December of 1972, it will quickly ascend both the pop and R&B singles charts. "Love Train" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 17, 1973 - The World Is A Ghetto, the fifth studio album by War hits #1 on the Billboard Top 200 for two weeks, also topping the R&B album chart for seven weeks on February 10, 1972. Produced by Jerry Goldstein, Lonnie Jordan, and Howard Scott, it is recorded at Crystal Industries in Los Angeles from mid - late 1972. Following the success of their second post-Eric Burdon album All Day Music with the hit title track and its follow up "Slipping Into Darkness," their next album will see the Long Beach-based R&B/Funk band entering the most successful phase of their career. Anchored by the singles "The Cisco Kid" (#2 Pop, #5 R&B) and the title track (#7 Pop, #3 R&B), it will be War's biggest-selling and highest-charting album. The album will also be remixed in quadraphonic stereo and released on vinyl LP and 8-Track tape. The World Is A Ghetto is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 17, 1976 - Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) by the Eagles is released. Produced by Glyn Johns and Bill Szymczyk, it is recorded from February 1972 - March 1975. The first hits compilation released by the band, it features material compiled from their first four studio albums. Suggested by their label boss David Geffen, the band are initially opposed to the idea of releasing a greatest hits album, with the popular opinion being that it usually signaled the beginning of an artist's commercial decline. Eventually, he will convince them otherwise and they will agree to its release. Ironically, its release comes less than ten months before their largest selling studio album Hotel California. It will be first album in history to be officially certified Platinum by the RIAA when it achieves that sales plateau one week after its release on February 24, 1976. During its first 18 months of release, Asylum Records will reported sell over a million copies a month of the album. Over time it will not only become the largest selling greatest hits album ever, it will also tie with Michael Jackson's "Thriller" for the best selling of all time in the US. Original LP pressings feature embossed artwork on the cover (eventually discontinued but restored on the 180g audiophile LP reissue). Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) will spend five weeks (non-consecutive) at #1 on the Billboard Top 200, is certified 29x Platinum in the US by the RIAA, and is currently one of only eight albums to a receive a Double Diamond Certification.
On this day in music history: February 17, 1978 - The Kick Inside, the debut album by Kate Bush is released. Produced by Andrew Powell, it is recorded at AIR Studios in London in June 1975, and July - August 1977. Bush is discoverd by Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, who will help the young musician record professional quality demos and will bring her to the attention of executives at EMI Records who immediately sign her. There will be a two year lapse between putting her under contract and when she finally completes her first album, allowing her time to finish school and prepare to go through the recording process. Bush, who is only 19 years old at the time of the album's release, will compose all of the material on her debut release with some of the songs written when she was only 13. It also features musical support from members of The Alan Parsons Project and Gilmour. The album is an instant smash in the UK, generating five singles, including the chart-topping "Wuthering Heights," and will gain her a loyal cult following in the US. The LP's original UK cover art will be replaced in the US with a shot of Bush sitting on the floor. The Kick Inside will peak at #3 on the UK album chart.
On this day in music history: February 17, 1979 - "Bustin' Loose Pt. 1" by Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for four weeks, also peaking at #34 on the Hot 100 on April 7, 1979. Written by Chuck Brown, it will be the biggest hit for the Washington DC-based soul band who are pioneers in the subgenre of soul music known as "Go-go." Originally written in 1976, Brown & The Soul Searchers will make the song a part of their live act and it soon becomes a fan favorite. After nearly two years of playing the song to rapturous response, Brown will finally decide to record it when they are signed to MCA subsidiary Source Records in 1978. Brown and the band will record "Bustin' Loose" at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia. Released in the Fall of 1978, "Bustin' Loose" will be an immediate hit on black radio, garnering such heavy radio and club play that it will cross over, breaching the top 40 on the Hot 100. "Bustin' Loose" will later be adopted by the Washington Nationals baseball team as an anthem, and is sampled as the basis of rapper Nelly's number one pop and R&B single "Hot In Herre" in 2002. Though Brown will score one more significant hit with the single "We Need Some Money" in 1984, he will remain active as a live performer, drawing enthusiastic crowds and touring the world until months before his death in May of 2012. "Bustin' Loose Pt. 1" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: February 17, 1983 - The issue of Rolling Stone magazine featuring Michael Jackson on the cover hits newsstands. The article titled "Michael Jackson: Life In The Magical Kingdom," features an in-depth interview with the very media shy pop superstar by journalist Gerri Hirshey conducted over the course of several days in the Fall of 1982. In the interview, Jackson will talk about his past as a child star and about the current projects he is working on at the time which include the blockbuster album Thriller and the E.T. Storybook Album. The article will reveal a not often seen side of the usually guarded Jackson, revealing himself to be sensitive and playful, but also very business savvy and highly ambitious. The cover photo taken by photographer Bonnie Schiffman is the first time Michael Jackson is featured on the cover of Rolling Stone since 1971, while The Jackson 5 are at the height of their success. The interview will be the last major in print interview that Jackson will grant during his career. The article will be reprinted in the Rolling Stone anthology book 20 Years Of Rolling Stone: What A Long, Strange Trip It's Been in 1987 and in the Michael Jackson memorial commemorative issue that Rolling Stone publishes in July of 2009.
On this day in music history: February 17, 1998 - Destiny's Child, the debut album by Destiny's Child is released. Produced by Tim & Bob, Sylvia Bennett-Smith, Jerry Duplessis, Jermaine Dupri, Rob Fusari, Che Greene, Vincent Herbert, Wyclef Jean, KLC, Jay Lincoln, Mark Morales, O'Dell, Cory Rooney, Terry T., Craig B, Carl Washington, and D'Wayne Wiggins, it is recorded at various studios from early 1997 - January 1998. Originally known as Girl's Tyme, they will go through several name changes before calling themselves Destiny (then finally Destiny's Child in 1996). The group will initially be signed to Elektra Records but are dropped before they can release an album. With the assistance of D'Wayne Wiggins of Tony! Toni! Tone!, he will take the group under his wing, helping them secure a contract with Columbia Records. Working with a number of top and upcoming R&B producers, it will be the breakthrough for the Houston-based R&B vocal quartet consisting of Beyonce Knowles, Kelly Rowland, LeToya Luckett, and LaTavia Roberson. It will spin off two singles including "No, No, No Part 2" (#1 R&B, #3 Pop), which originally recorded as a slow ballad but is remade with Wyclef Jean (The Fugees) driven by a sample of Love Unlimited Orchestra's "Strange Games And Things." Destiny's Child will peak at #6 on the Billboard R&B album chart, #67 on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.