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Music History Monday: April 14

Posted by Jeff Harris, April 14, 2014 11:21am | Post a Comment

To read more Behind The Grooves, go to http://behindthegrooves.tumblr.com.

On this day in music history: April 14, 1973 - "Masterpiece" by The Temptations hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for two weeks, also peaking at #7 on the Hot 100 on April 28, 1973. Written and produced by Norman Whitfield, it is the 11th R&B chart-topper for the veteran Motown vocal group. Songwriter and producer Norman Whitfield will give the song its title when he feels that all of the combined elements of the piece add up to a "masterpiece," though the word does not appear in the lyrics. Whitfield will write "Masterpiece" as a sequel to the Grammy-winning smash "Papa Was A Rolling Stone" (and the album All Directions), and features members of The Funk Brothers providing musical support and is arranged by Paul Riser. The single and album are recorded during a period where there is ever-mounting tension between the highly-strung producer and The Temptations, who are unhappy at having no say in the creative process and are being referred to by music critics as "the Norman Whitfield Choral Singers." "Masterpiece" will be edited down from its nearly 14 minute epic length down to under four and a half minutes for single release. Though the Tempts will top the R&B chart three more times with "Let Your Hair Down," "Happy People," and "Shakey Ground," in 1974 and 1975 respectively, "Masterpiece" will be will be the group's last top ten pop hit for 18 years. It returns to the upper reaches of the chart when they collaborate with Rod Stewart on "The Motown Song" peaking at #10 in September of 1991. "Masterpiece" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
 

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Music History Monday: April 7

Posted by Jeff Harris, April 7, 2014 10:35am | Post a Comment

To read more Behind The Grooves, go to http://behindthegrooves.tumblr.com.

Born this day: April 7, 1915 - Iconic jazz vocalist/songwriter Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Harris in Philadelphia, PA). Happy Birthday to "Lady Day" on what would have been her 99th Birthday.
 


On this day in music history: April 7, 1967 - FM Underground radio is launched at KMPX 106.9 in San kmpx san franciscoFrancisco. Having grown tired of the grind of AM Top 40 radio, broadcasting legend DJ Tom Donahue, who will pioneer the free-form album rock radio format that puts the focus on rock album cuts rather than the tight and often restrictive Top 40 pop formatting that plays strictly hit singles. KMPX will broadcast from a studio at 50 Green Street in San Francisco's North Beach district. The station will both change the face of commercial radio and be instrumental in breaking new artists like Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix. However, Donahue's time at the station will last less than a year. Splitting his time between the San Francisco station and sister station KPPC in Pasadena, the strain of working both stations will cause the veteran DJ/Program Director's relationship with owner Leon Crosby to breakdown, leading to Donahue's ouster from the station. In a show of solidarity, the staff of KMPX will strike after Crosby replaces Donahue with Bob Prescott as PD. The strike will last for eight weeks, in which time Crosby will fire all of the original staff and replace them with DJ's mined from other stations around the country. Upset by what has transpired, a number of prominent rock musicians including The Grateful Dead and The Rolling Stones will ask KMPX to refrain from playing their music as a show of support for the deposed station workers. By May of 1968, Tom Donahue and several former KMPX staffers will be working at rival station KSAN (owned by Metromedia Broadcasting).

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Music History Monday: March 31

Posted by Jeff Harris, March 31, 2014 11:04am | Post a Comment

To read more Behind The Grooves, go to http://behindthegrooves.tumblr.com.

Born on this day: March 31, 1935 - Musician and co-founder of A&M Records, Herb Alpert (born Herbert Alpert in Los Angeles, CA). Happy 79th Birthday, Herb!
 


On this day in music history: March 31, 1949 - RCA Victor Records releases the first commercially available 45 RPM record available for domestic sale. That first single is "Tekarkana Baby" by country music legend Eddy Arnold. Written by Fred Rose, Arnold's version of the song will top the Billboard Best Selling Retail Folk Records chart (existing prior to the Country & Western chart) for one week. The label will press the initial run of the single on clear green vinyl. RCA will develop the new format in response to Columbia Records introducing the 33 1/3 RPM long playing LP the previous year. Pressed on vinyl (or styrene, which is developed by Columbia) rather than the fragile shellac discs that 78's were manufactured from, the 7" discs will grow in popularity, eventually overtaking the 78 in sales by the mid 1950's and becoming the dominant physical single format until the end of the 1980's. Happy 65th Birthday to the 45!
 


On this day in music history: March 31, 1958 - "Johnny B. Goode" by Chuck Berry is released. Written by Chuck Berry in 1955, the semi autobiographical song will be partially inspired by his longtime piano player Johnnie Johnson, though pianist Lafayette Leake will play on the single and not Johnson. "Goode's" opening riff will be lifted from R&B pioneer Louis Jordan's 1946 hit "Ain't That Just Like A Woman." The track is recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago on January 6, 1958 and features Berry backed by musicians Willie Dixon (bass), Lafayette Leake (piano), and Fred Below (drums). Chuck Berry's version will peak at #2 on the Billboard R&B Best Sellers chart and #8 on the Pop Best Sellers chart in June of 1958. Regarded as one of the quintessential rock & roll songs, it will be covered numerous times over the years by dozens of artists. Berry's original version is included on the Voyager Golden Record (a gold plated titanium disc with messages and music recorded on it) attached to the Voyager spacecraft in 1977 representing rock & roll music. The song will also be featured in the film Back To The Future in 1985, where in a humorous plot twist Berry's fictional cousin Marvin Berry overhears the song being performed by actor Michael J. Fox (actually sung by Mark Campbell of Jack Mack & The Heart Attack) who calls his cousin to tell him he's just heard the "new sound" he's been looking for. The original single of "Johnny B. Goode" is backed with the Berry-penned "Around And Around," which will also become a rock & roll standard that is also widely covered, most notably by The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, The Animals, and David Bowie. Chuck Berry's original recording of "Johnny B. Goode" is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999.
 

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Music History Monday: March 24

Posted by Jeff Harris, March 24, 2014 07:30am | Post a Comment

To read more Behind The Grooves, go to http://behindthegrooves.tumblr.com.

On this day in music history: March 24, 1975Chicago VIII, the eighth album by Chicago is released. Produced by James William Guercio, it is recorded at the Caribou Ranch in Nederland, CO from August - September 1974. The band's eighth album in just six years, compounded by non-stop exhaustive touring will find them short of new material. Many of the new album's songs will be written in the studio during the sessions for VIII. The album will also be first to feature percussionist Laudir de Oliviera. It will spin off two singles including "Old Days" (#5 Pop) and "Harry Truman" (#13 Pop). The original LP package will come with an iron on decal of the album cover art and a poster. In 2002, the album will be remastered and feature two previously unreleased tracks recorded during the original sessions but were left off of the original release. Chicago VIII will spend two weeks at number one on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
 


On this day in music history: March 24, 1979 - "Tragedy" by The Bee Gees hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks. Written by Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb, it is the eighth US chart-topper for the three brothers from the Isle of Man. Recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami in the Spring of 1978, the song is written during a particularly prolific period for the brothers Gibb. "Tragedy" is written in mid-1977 while The Bee Gees are filming Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. During this time they also write "Too Much Heaven" and "Shadow Dancing." The song's climactic explosion sound effects are created by the engineer recording several overdubs of Barry Gibb cupping his hands over the microphone while making the explosion sound with his mouth, combined with keyboardist Blue Weaver playing random notes on the bottom end of the piano with the sounds being heavy processed in the mix. Issued as a single in late January of 1979,  prior to the release of their first post-Saturday Night Fever album Spirits Having Flown, it is another immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #29 on February 10, 1979, it will streak to the top of the chart six weeks later. "Tragedy" is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA. 
 

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Music History Monday: March 17

Posted by Jeff Harris, March 17, 2014 09:30am | Post a Comment

To read more Behind The Grooves, go to http://behindthegrooves.tumblr.com.

Born on this day: March 17, 1919 - Jazz and pop music icon Nat King Cole (born Nathaniel Adams Coles in Montgomery, AL). Happy Birthday to this musical giant on what would have been his 95th Birthday. We'll always love you, Nat!
 


On this day in music history: March 17, 1958 - "Tequila" by The Champs hits #1 on the Billboard Best Sellers chart for five weeks, also topping the R&B singles chart for four weeks on March 31, 1958. Written by Danny Flores (credited to the pseudonym "Chuck Rio" on the record), it is the biggest hit for the instrumental quintet from Los Angeles. The song is result of an in-studio jam at the end of a recording session, inspired by a recent trip that musician Danny Flores takes to Tijuana, Mexico. Because he is signed to another record label at the time, Flores will use the name "Chuck Rio" to mask his real identity. Originally released on actor and country music star Gene Autry's Challenge record label in January 1958 as the B-side of "Train To Nowhere" to minimal response, a DJ in Cleveland begins playing "Tequila" instead and changes history. Entering the Billboard Best Sellers chart on March 3, 1958 at #23, it jumps to #12 , and then pole vaults right to number one the following week.  The single will also win the first Grammy Award for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording in 1959. "Tequila" will have a very long life after The Champs have faded from the charts. "Tequila" will be covered many times over the years by numerous artists, with the original recording being featured in many films including Pee Wee's Big Adventure, The Sandlot, and Cheech & Chong's Next Movie as well as television shows such as Happy Days. "Tequila" is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA and is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 2001.
 

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