Ain’t No Sunshine – Bill Withers – 1971

December 7, 2018

Aint no sunshine billOne of the most enduring Soul/R&B classics, Bill Withers’ 1971 smash, Ain’t No Sunshine.

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  • Born in West Virginia, USA, in 1938, Bill Withers was 32 before embarking on a musical career and, even then, he never fully immersed himself.
  • Bill was born with a stutter and said he felt it was difficult for him to fit in with his peers so, at the age of 18 he joined the US Navy where he served for nine years.
  • He left the navy in 1965, leaving his stutter behind. He moved to Los Angeles to embark on a career in singing and song writing. He worked a number of jobs while recording demo tapes and performing his songs in clubs in the evenings.
  • Famously, when Ain’t No Sunshine took off in the charts, he refused to resign from his day job believing that the music business was too fickle and his success may not last.
  • By 1985, Bill had effectively left the music business having recorded eight albums, two of which went gold; and 34 singles, including Lean On Me which reached #1 on the US and #18 on the UK singles charts. His last hit was in 1981, Just the Two of Us, with Grover Washington Jnr.
  • Bill fell out of love with the music industry in the mid-80s. He became frustrated by his record company dictating what he could and couldn’t release. He once talked about how frustrated he was as a professional musician when his record company would refuse to release what he considered good music, and yet they released an album by Mr T, an American actor.
  • In 1985, when his record deal ran out, he decided not to record or re-sign to a record label – this effectively ended his performing career. He has since stated that he does not miss touring and performing live and does not regret leaving music behind.

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  • Ain’t No Sunshine was written and recorded by Bill Withers in 1971. It appeared on his album Just as I Am and was produced by Booker T. Jones. The song features some greats of the music industry, including, Donald “Duck” Dunn on bass guitar, Al Jackson, Jr. on drums and Stephen Stills on guitar.
  • Ain’t No Sunshine was the breakthrough hit for Bill, peaking at #3 on the US singles chart. It peaked at #40 on the UK singles chart but not until 2009, an incredible 38 years after its release.
  • Bill was 31 years old and working at a factory making toilet seats for 747s at the time he wrote the song. It is said that, when the song went gold, the record company presented Bill with a golden toilet, marking the start of his new career – he had, until that point continued his factory work.
  • Ain’t No Sunshine won the 1972 Grammy award for best R&B song.
  • In 1971, Michael Jackson covered the song for his debut album, Got to be There. In the UK, it was released as the third single from the album and peaked at #8 in September 1972.
  • Other artists to have success with the song include, The Rockmelons, Boris Gardiner and Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
  • Ain’t No Sunshine lyrics.

ain’t no sunshine – bill withers -1971 – video

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Grandad – Clive Dunn – 1970

November 25, 2018

GrandadThey many not be popular now but novelty songs were regular features on the 70s hit-parade. It’s been a while since we had one on seventiesmusic – so here goes. This one not so well-known outside of the UK but a big hit back in 1971; Clive Dunn’s, Grandad.

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  • Clive Dunn was an English actor, comedian, artist, author, and singer best known for playing the role of the rather doddery Lance Corporal Jones in the BBC sitcom Dad’s Army, which ran for 80 episodes between 1968 and 1977.
  • After Clive’s drama training at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, in London, WWII broke out. Clive joined the army and served with the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars. The unit fought during the German invasion of Greece but surrendered after fighting a rear-guard action near the Corinth canal. One of the four hundred men taken prisoner, Clive was held as a prisoner of war in Austria for four years. He remained in the army after the war ended, and was finally demobilised in 1947.
  • During his film and television career, Clive tended towards playing his trademark character, that of a doddery old man.
  • He was the unlikely singer of a #1 UK single in 1971 and subsequently released a number of other singles. His #1, Grandad, resulted in a children’s TV series, also called Grandad.
  • Clive was 92 when he died in Portugal in 2112.

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  • Grandad was written by Herbie Flowers and Kenny Pickett, and released in November 1970, by Clive Dunn.
  • The story often retold has the song written specifically for Clive. While starring in the BBC sit-com Dad’s Army, Clive met bassist Herbie Flowers. On learning that Herbie was a songwriter, Clive challenged him to write a song for him. Grandad was the result.
  • Released in November 1970, Grandad reached #1 on the UK chart in January 1971 where it remained for three weeks, during which time Clive celebrated his 51st birthday. In all it spent 27 weeks on UK singles chart.
  • Clive appeared on Top of the Pops four times singing Grandad but never had another hit single.
  • He released an album which featured Grandad and its B-Side I play the Spoons. The album was titled Permission to Sing, Sir!, which referred to his character in Dad’s Army.
  • Grandad lyrics.

grandad – clive dunn – 1971 – video

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Babe – Styx – 1979

November 14, 2018

Babe - Styx - 1979The sole #1 US hit for American band Styx only just squeezed into the 70s; Babe entered the charts in December 1979 and remained there long enough to be the first #1 of the 1980s.

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  • Formed in Chicago in 1972, Styx continue to perform today, although they did take a couple of breaks in the middle there somewhere as various members pursued solo careers.
  • Initially known as a harder rock band, by the 1980s, they had begun to incorporate gentler pop elements into their music.
  • Originally named the Tradewinds, in 1972, the band decided to choose a new name after being signed to Wooden Nickel Records. They were spotted by a talent scout at a concert at St. John of the Cross Parish in Western Springs, Illinois (James Young’s hometown). After throwing around a few names, they settle on Styx because, according to Dennis DeYoung, “it was the only suggestion that none of us hated.”
  • Foundation members were, Chuck Panozzo and his brother John on bass and drums respectively, James Young on guitar and lead vocals, Dennis DeYoung on keys and vocals, and John Curulewski on guitar and vocals. The two Johns have both since died – Chuck and James are still a part of the band.
  • Not so popular in the UK, the band had three gold albums in the US and an incredible, five albums in a row that went platinum or multi-platinum in the US – those five albums add up to over 12 million album units! In all, Styx released 16 studio albums, 9 live albums, 16 compilation albums, and 31 singles.
  • The band were prolific in terms of album releases – one every year between 1972 and 1979 inclusive. Styx last released an album in 2017 – The Mission.

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  • Babe was released by American rock band Styx in September 1979. It was the first single from their 1979 triple-platinum album Cornerstone.
  • Babe was written by band member Dennis DeYoung as a birthday present for his wife Suzanne.
  • Babe was Styx’s first, and only, US #1 single. It peaked at #6 in the UK – the band’s only single to break the UK top ten.
  • The song was the US’s first #1 on the 1980s.
  • In 1999, Babe featured in the movie Big Daddy, starring Adam Sandler, whose character is a huge fan of Styx.
  • Babe lyrics.

babe – styx – 1979 – video

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Tony Joe White – 1943 – 2018

October 26, 2018

Capture

One of the great song writers of the 60s, 70s… right through to today, has died of a heart attack in Tennessee. Tony Joe White was 75.

Read Rolling Stone magazine’s obituary here.


Don’t Give Up on Us – David Soul -1976

October 25, 2018

Dont give up on us david soul 1976Just to prove that it’s not just in the 2000’s that otherwise average singers can achieve hit records simply due to celebrity status gained in other fields of endeavour, this week we visit David Soul, the American-British actor (and avid Arsenal FC fan) who had not one but two #1 UK hits back in the 70s. This is his first hit – Don’t Give Up on Us.

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  • David Soul is nothing if not talented… born in Chicago, he turned down a professional baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox in order to study political science. While studying, he learned the guitar and was smitten with music. He began to play clubs and appear on television.
  • Gradually, his acting took over. He appeared on such American classics as The Merv Griffin Show, Flipper and Here Comes the Brides (also featuring Bobby Sherman). On the strength of his television work, Clint Eastwood cast him in the movie Magnum Force.
  • For those of us who remember David in his heyday, we know him as Detective Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson from Starsky and Hutch, a hit television series which aired from 1975 – 1979.
  • During the mid- to late 1970s, David returned to singing. He recorded a number of hits which included, Don’t Give Up on Us (1977) which reached #1 in both the US and UK, and Silver Lady (1977) which reached #1 in the UK, but peaked #52 in the US. Between those two hits, he had a #2 UK single, Going In With My Eyes Open.
  • In all, between 1976 and 1978, David had five UK Top 20 singles and two Top 10 albums. In the late 70s, he toured extensively in the US, Europe, Far East and South America.
  • In the mid-1990s, David moved to London and, in 2004, became a British citizen.
  • David continues to work as an actor and singer.

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  • Don’t Give Up on Us was written by song producer Tony Macaulay and sung by David Soul.
  • A huge hit, the song spent four weeks at #1 on the UK singles chart in January and February 1977, and one week at #1 on the US singles chart in April 1977. It sold 1.16 million copies in the UK. It was the 9th greatest hit of the 1970s in the UK.
  • Don’t Give Up on Us was rated #93 in VH1’s 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders because, although David had at least two more hits in the UK, he never again broke into the top 40 in the US.
  • In 2004, David recorded a new version of Don’t Give Up on Us. The story goes that he felt embarrassed when hearing the song by chance in an elevator as sung by Owen Wilson in the film version of Starsky and Hutch.
  • The song was also used in the film Johnny English Reborn (2011).
  • Don’t Give Up on Us lyrics.

don’t give up on us – david soul – 1976 – video

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That’s the Way (I Like It) – KC and the Sunshine Band – 1975

October 16, 2018

Tahts the way i like it KCThis latest 70s hit is from one of the survivors of the disco era – KC and the Sunshine Band, and their 1975 hit, That’s the Way (I Like It).

kc and the sunshine band fax

  • KC and the Sunshine Band were formed in Florida back in 1973 by lead vocalist Harry Wayne Casey.
  • The name came from Harry’s surname; Casey = KC; their original name was KC & the Sunshine Junkanoo Band.
  • Although he originally used studio musicians, that soon changed. Early in the life of the band, Harry met Richard Finch. The two began to write songs together and the rest, as they say, is history. One of their first songs was Rock Your Baby (one of the very first songs to feature a drum machine) which was recorded by George McCrae and became a #1 US hit.
  • KC and the Sunshine Band released 13 studio albums – ten between 1973 and 1984, and a further three after reforming in 1993. They are still performing today.
  • Their self-titled second album was their greatest album success. It featured the hits, That’s the Way (I Like It), Get Down Tonight, and Boogie Shoes. Other hits included (Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty, I’m Your Boogie Man, and Please Don’t Go.
  • In all, the band produced seven Top Ten US singles, of which 5 went to #1.

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  • That’s the Way (I Like It) was the written by Harry Casey and Richard Finch. It was the second hit single for KC and the Sunshine Band (the first being Get Down Tonight) and come from the band’s second’s album which was self-titled.
  • The song is one of the few #1 singles to hit number one on more than one occasion during a one-month period. Having been at #1 in the US for a week, it was knocked off the top perch by Silver Convention’s, Fly, Robin, Fly. Three weeks later, That’s the Way (I Like It) was back for another week at the top.
  • That’s the Way (I Like It) peaked at #4 in the UK.
  • At the time of release, some considered the song to be rather risqué because of the obvious meaning behind the title as well as its chorus with multiple “uh-huhs.”
  • That’s the Way (I Like It) lyrics.

that’s the way (i like it) – kc and the sunshine band – 1975 – video

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Mississippi Delta – Bobby Gentry – 1967

October 2, 2018

mississippi delta bobbie gentryYes, I know 1967 is a few years before the 70s, but today I listened to Bobbie Gentry’s first album, Ode to Billie Joe – I’d forgotten how wonderful it is, and how great this song is; Mississippi Delta.

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  • Born in Chickasaw County, Mississippi, Roberta Lee Streeter began writing songs when her grandmother traded one of the family’s milk cows for a piano. Bobbie was seven years old; her first song was My Dog Sergeant is a Good Dog.
  • Bobbie was only a young teenager when she began performing and chose he stage name from the 1952 movie, Ruby Gentry, the story of a young woman born into poverty who is determined to break free and make something of her life.
  • In 1967, Kelly Gordon, a Capitol Records executive heard a demo she’d recorded. The demo was Mississippi Delta and Ode to Billie Joe. Capitol Records intended to release this as a single with Mississippi Delta on the A-side. Eventually, the sides were reversed and Ode to Billie Joe was released, it hit #1 in the USA and #13 in the UK.
  • Bobbie’s first album, also titled, Ode to Billie Joe, was written entirely by Bobbie (with the exception of one song) and went straight to #1 in the US. On the strength of the album, Bobbie earned four 1968 Grammy Awards, including, Best New Artist, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
  • Bobbie released three studio albums in 1968 and three more before her last in 1971.
  • Bobbie was one of the first female artists to compose and produce her own material – although she was often not credited as producer; her record company feeling that the world wasn’t quite ready for a female record producer.
  • In all, Bobbie charted eleven singles on the US single chart and four on the UK singles chart. She lost interest in performing in the late 1970s and stopped performing entirely in 1981.
  • Bobbie was once married to singer, Jim Stafford.

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  • Mississippi Delta was written by Bobbie Gentry and appeared on her first album, the #1 album, Ode to Billie Joe.
  • Mississippi was realised as a single in Japan but failed to chart.
  • Many country blues fans consider it a classic because of Bobbie’s superb vocals.
  • Mississippi Delta lyrics.

mississippi delta – bobbie gentry – 1967 – video

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