Knock On Wood – Amii Stewart – 1979

February 9, 2017

amii_stewart_-_knock_on_woodLast Saturday I had the pleasure of enjoying two and a half hours with the incomparable James Taylor. As an encore he sang the Eddie Floyd, Steve Cropper song, Knock On Wood – a song that has been covered by many artists in a number of genres, including Amii Stewart who has a disco hit with it in 1979.

amii stewart fax

  • Amy Stewart was only four years old when her father signed her up for singing and dancing lessons. Because there was already Amy Stewart registered with Actor’s Equity, he changed the spelling of her name to Amii.
  • Amii began her show business life as a dancer – she even studied ballet and modern dance. It was while touring with the stage production Bubbling Brown Sugar in 1975, that she met Barry Leng, a record producer who signed her for Hansa records.
  • Knock On Wood was her first single and it went straight to #1 in the US and #6 in the UK – she even earned a Grammy nomination for it. Her second single was a medley that included The Doors‘ Light My Fire.  That peaked at #5 in the UK but stalled at #69 in the US.
  • Amii now lives in Italy. She still performs but, more often it is in a stage show rather than a disco.  In 2000, she toured as part of Jesus Christ Superstar, playing the part of Mary Magdalene.  Then, in 2003, she starred in the musical Lady Day, in the role of Billie Holiday; the musical was written and produced by her.
  • Amii released 17 albums, the last in 2012.

knock on wood fax

  • Written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper in 1966, Knock on Wood was originally performed by Eddie. His version peaked at #28 on the US singles chart and spent a week at #1 on the US soul chart
  • The song has been covered by artists as diverse as Otis Redding and Carla Thomas in 1967, Wilson Pickett, The American Breed, David Bowie (1974), Amii Stewart (1979), Eric Clapton (1985), Michael Bolton (1992) and James Taylor (last Saturday night).
  • David Bowie’s single is lifted from his 1974 David Live album.
  • Amii Stewart’s version of the song is the most successful. It was Amii’s debut single from her album of the same name.  Recorded late-1978, it was realeased in January 1979 and reached #1 on the US charts and #6 in the UK.  A remixed version was released in the UK in 1985, peaking at #7.
  • Knock On Wood lyrics.

knock on wood – amii stewart – 1979 – video

knock on wood – eddie floyd – 1967 – original version

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September – Earth, Wind & Fire – 1978

August 31, 2016

EWF September 1978Originally The Salty Peppers, Maurice White’s band, Earth, Wind & Fire went on to huge success which included the 1978 hit, September

 earth, wind & fire fax

  • Rolling Stone Magazine declared Earth, Wind & Fire to have “changed the sound of black pop”.
  • Founded in Chicago in 1971 by Maurice White, Earth, Wind & Fire grew out of a previous band with the very uncool name of The Salty Peppers.
  • EWF 1aOther band members included Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, Larry Dunn, Al McKay and Andrew Woolfolk.
  • Earth, Wind & Fire has received 20 Grammy nominations, winning six awards.  Maurice and Philip have won Grammys as individuals.  The band has also been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
  • With over 100 million records sold, the band is one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time.
  • But it doesn’t stop there, incredibly, five band members, Maurice White, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Larry Dunn and Al McKay, have been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
  • Throughout the ‘70s and early ‘80s, Earth, Wind & Fire had a number of funk/disco hits, including: Shining Star, Devotion, Can’t Hide Love, September, Boogie Wonderland, and After the Love Has Gone.  Despite a plethora of hits, the band hit the #1 spot on the US singles charts only once – with Shining Star in 1974.  September was their highest charting UK hit (#3).
  • Earth, Wind & Fire have influence many artists with three in particular, Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, and Dionne Warwick, heaping praise on the band.
  • Maurice passed away in February 2016 but the band continues to perform with Philip Bailey still leading the vocals (which he previously shared with Maurice).EWF 2

earth, wind & fire trivia

  • Earth, Wind & Fire was the first African-American act to sell out Madison Square Garden.
  • President Barack Obama invited Earth, Wind & Fire to perform at the White House for the first social event of his administration.

september fax

  • SEWF 1eptember was released as a single by Earth, Wind & Fire on November 18, 1978. 
  • It was written by Earth, Wind & Fire members, Maurice White, Al McKay, and Allee Willis.
  • It was recorded during the I Am sessions and featured on the band’s The Best of Earth, Wind & Fire, Vol. 1.
  • September reached #1 on the US R&B chart, #8 on the US singles chart, and #3 on the UK singles chart.
  • The song was also later released as December.  Chord changes andmelody remained identical, with the lyrics re-written for the “…Twenty-fifth of December…”
  • September has been covered and sampled by numerous artists and appeared in dozens of movies and television programmes.
  • September lyrics.

september – earth, wind & fire – 1978 – video

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Celebration – Kool and the Gang – 1980

August 9, 2015

Kool and the Gang - Celebration cover - 1980Recorded in 1979, released in October 1980, Kool and the Gang’s Celebration continues to be a party dance favourite (depending on what type of parties you go to!).

kOOL AND THE GANG 1kool and the gang fax

  • Formed in 1964 as the Jazziacs, Kool and the Gang continue to perform today.
  • In the past 51 years Kool and the Gang have morphed several times; from jazz, to funk and R&B, to electro-pop.
  • The changes have worked, the band has sold over 70 million albums.
  • Kool and the Gang 2The band formed around the musical talents of brothers Robert “Kool” Bell and Ronald Bell, often known by their Arabic names, Muhammad Bayyan and Khalis Bayyan.
  • Robert’s godfather was Thelonious Monk.
  • Kool and the Gang’s hits included; Jungle Boogie, Hollywood Swinging and Get Down on It.

celebration fax

  • Celebration was written by the members of Kool and the Gang and recorded in 1979. It was released as a single in October 1980.
  • Kool and the Gang 3Celebration is Kool and the Gang’s only #1 US singles hit. It reached the top of the US charts on February 7, 1981. It peaked at #7 on the UK charts on November 29, 1980.
  • Celebration was covered by Kylie Minogue in 1992 – her version peaked at #20 on the UK singles chart. It was also covered in 1987 by New Zealand band Dragon.
  • Celebration lyrics – Kool and the Gang.

celebration – kool and the gang – 1980

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Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry – 1976

August 14, 2014

Wild Cherry Play that funky music 1976 coverFor the second week in a row, a one-hit-wonder.  This time, American band, Wild Cherry and their 1976 #1 hit, Play That Funky Music.

wild cherry 1wild cherry fax

  • From a small Ohio steel mill town named, Mingo Junction, comes Wild Cherry.
  • The band’s name came from the brand of a cough drop band founder, Rob Parissi had in his pocket the day he endeavoured to come up with something creative!
  • Wild Cherry were active from 1970-1973 before, disillusioned, they parted company. In 1975, Rob decided to give it another go.  With a new set of musicians, he hit the road again.
  • One night, at the 2001 Club in Pittsburgh, a group of Afro-American fans kept coming to the stage and teasing, “Are you white boys gonna play some funky music?”  Drummer Ron Beitle took up the teasing and, in a group meeting in the dressing room, said to the band, “Play That Funky Music, White Boy.”  Rob was inspired – in five minutes he’d written the song with a pen he borrowed from the bartender.
  • wild cherry 2The band was signed to Sweet City Records (Epic/CBS) on the strength of the song’s potential.
  • Over the next few years the band changed line-up a number of times before disbanding in 1979.

play that funky music fax

  • Play That Funky Music was written by Rob Parissi and recorded by his band Wild Cherry. Recorded in 1975, it was released in 1976.
  • Play That Funky Music hit #1 on the US singles chart on September 18, 1976.  It eventually sold over 2.5 million copies in the US alone.
  • The song listed at no. 73 on Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • In 1990, Vanilla Ice released a song that included an interpretation of Play That Funky Music.  He didn’t credit Rob as the songwriter and was later forced to pay $500,000 in a copyright infringement lawsuit.  Vanilla’s version didn’t initially catch on, but the B-side did.  On re-release, Play That Funky Music peaked at #4 on the US charts and #10 in the UK.

Play That Funky Music lyrics.

play that funky music – wild cherry – 1976 – video

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A Fifth of Beethoven – Walter Murphy and The Big Apple Band – 1974

October 10, 2013

 Walter Murphy 2  One of the best known pieces of music from the disco era – Walter Murphy’s adaption of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony – 1974’s, A Fifth of Beethoven.

Walter murphy 3flying under the radar

Walter Murphy is one of those guys who’s been around the music industry forever, but tends to get very little attention.

Walter was just 20 years old, when a friend introduced him to Doc Severinsen who was musical director of Johnny Carson’s, Tonight Show. He showed Doc some of the jazz arrangements he’d been working on. Doc liked them enough to have The Tonight Show Band play them.

Walter Murphy 4Walter made an early living out of writing advertising jingles (e.g. Revlon and Woolworths) and the occasional television series.


In 1974 (still only 22 years old), Walter was writing a disco song for a commercial. The commercial’s producer mentioned to Walter that it would be great for someone to update some popular classical music.

Walter grabbed hold of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony and, being the height of the disco era, gave it a disco beat. And, the rest as they say…

An album under the same name featured a rendition of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee which peaked at #44 on the US singles chart. Three other albums followed. In 1982 a medley of Themes From E.T. (The Extra-Terrestrial) reached #47 on the US singles chart, and then, Walter’s hit career was over.

where’s walter?

Walter now writes music for television and movies (and the occasional jingle). His music has been included in, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Family Guy, American Dad, and the 2012 movie Ted.


Walter won Outstanding Music and Lyrics at the 2002 Emmy Awards for You’ve Got A Lot To See from Family Guy.

In 2012, he received an Academy Award for Best Original Song nomination for Everybody Needs a Best Friend, from Ted.

a fifth of beethoven fax

  • A Fifth of Beethoven was written by Walter Murphy and recorded by Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band. Just before release, however, it was discovered that their already existed a Big Apple Band and so the artist name was changed to The Walter Murphy Band. The record company believed it had a better chance of being a hit if people thought it was by a band – despite the fact that Walter played almost every instrument. Eventually, they changed yet again, crediting the song solely to Walter.
  • Entering the US top 100 at #80, on May 29, 1976, A Fifth of Beethoven took 19 weeks to reach #1.
  • A Fifth of Beethoven appeared in the movie Saturday Night Fever and the movie The Stepford Wives.
  • A snippet of A Fifth of Beethoven is played during Chicago Bulls games, whenever the opposing team loses possession of the ball.
  • Robin Thicke’s 2002 song, When I Get You Alone, is based on A Fifth of Beethoven.

a fifth of beethoven – walter murphy – 1974 – video

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Boogie Oogie Oogie – A Taste of Honey – 1978

October 4, 2012

In a list of the top songs of 1978, Boogie Oogie Oogie by A Taste of Honey comes in at #5.

it was the best of tunes and it was the worst of tunes

Boogie Oogie Oogie has been called everything from disco at its worst to one of the best R ‘n’ B singles of the 70s. What Boogie Oogie Oogie is, is a representative of the time when disco swept the world and most of us couldn’t figure out  why.

a taste of honey

Before their 1978 hit, A Taste of Honey had been around for quite some time. They formed in California in 1971 and, six years later, signed a FIVE album contract with Capitol Records.

Boogie Oogie Oogie was the first single from their first album. It was a hit, selling two million copies. The group was awarded a platinum records for both the single and album and won the Best New Artist Grammy in 1979.

And that was it really. A second single, Sukiyaki from their third album, went to #3 on the charts before the band faded to become distant memories of a bygone time.

those gal guitarists

The band was rather interesting in that, it was started by the keyboard player and drummer: Perry Kibble and Donald Ray Johnson. They looked for singers, a bassist and lead guitarist; and found them all in two young women; Janice-Marie Johnson (vocals, co-writer, bass), Carlita Dorhan (vocals, guitar).

By 1979 the band was a duo comprising Janice-Marie and Carlita.

boogie oogie oogie fax

  • Boogie Oogie Oogie was A Taste of Honey’s first single. It came from their self-titled debut album and spent three weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978. It peaked at #3 in the UK.
  • Boogie Oogie Oogie sold two million copies and earned the band a platinum record. The album also went platinum.
  • Boogie Oogie Oogie won the Grammy for Best New Artist at the 1979 Grammy Awards
  • Janice-Marie Johnson co-wrote the single with Perry Kibble. She calls it her “lifeline.” She gives credit to record executive Larkin Arnold who ensured the band owned their own publishing, meaning she made a heap of money from the song.
  • In the late 1990s, Boogie Oogie Oogie was used in an advertising campaign that ran throughout the US for Burger King. It was also to advertise pretzels.
  • Janice Marie Johnson recorded another version of the song in 2001 but it didn’t come near to touching the charts.
  • Wounded Buffalo remix of Jamiroquai‘s Little L, on the single with the same name, samples a portion of Johnson’s Boogie Oogie Oogie bassline.
  • Boogie Oogie Oogie lyrics.

boogie oogie oogie – a taste of honey – 1978 – video

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Robin Gibb – 1949 – 2012

May 21, 2012

Bee Gees singer Robin Gibb has died after a long battle with cancer.

In a statement, Gibb’s family announced his death with ”great sadness”.

Gibb, 62, who had undergone intestinal surgery, notched up dozens of hits with brothers Maurice and Barry – as performers and writers – and sold more than 200 million records.

”The family of Robin Gibb, of the Bee Gees, announce with great sadness that Robin passed away today following his long battle with cancer and intestinal surgery. The family have asked that their privacy is respected at this very difficult time,” the statement said.

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