Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – 1970

April 2, 2017

The Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson and the Miracles - 1970Music by Stevie Wonder – how could you go wrong?! Smokey Robinson and the Miracles had a #1 hit in 1970 with, The Tears of a Clown.

smokey robinson and the miracles fax

  • The Miracles formed in 1955 and soon became the first successful recording act for Motown Records.
  • Well, actually, they began life as The Five Chimes, then became the Matadors, and then the Miracles.
  • And Motown wasn’t their first tilt at stardom. They auditioned for Brunswick Records but were turned down.
  • They toiled away for five years until 1960 saw them record their first hit – Shop Around, which peaked at #2 on the US Charts.
  • 26 Top 40 Pop hits followed. Sixteen reached the Top 20, seven reached Top 10, and one -The Tears of a Clown – went all the way.
  • In 1965, the band became Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. That lasted until 1972 when Smokey (and his wife Claudette Rogers) left the band.
  • With a couple of breaks, the Miracles have reformed and split again twice. 1980 – 1983, and 1993 – 2011.
  • The genius of the band is that they wrote many of their own hits. They also took on other roles within the Motown company.  In 1964, Smokey became Motown’s vice-president.
  • The band were, in 2011, named at #32 in Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of all Time. They have a star on the Hollywood Hall of Fame and were, in 2012, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  The induction was surrounded in controversy because, Smokey had been inducted as a soloist in 1987, an act that even he expressed surprise about.
  • The legacy of the Miracles is huge. Stevie Wonder once said,

Without the Miracles, there would be no Stevie Wonder.

  • Barry Gordy said,

Without the Miracles, Motown would not be the Motown it is today.

the tears of a clown fax

  • The Tears of a Clown was written by Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, and Hank Cosby.
  • It was recorded by in 1966 by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles for the Tamla Records label subsidiary of Motown.
  • First appearing on the 1967 album Make It Happen, it was re-released in the UK as a single in July 1970, and went straight to #1. That prompted Motown to release the song in the US where it also went straight to the top.
  • The Tears of a Clown was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2012.
  • Stevie Wonder and Hank Cosby wrote the music for the track and gave it to Smokey to see what words he could come up with. Thinking the music had a circus motif, Smokey wrote about a clown and, the rest is history.
  • Cover versions have been released by several artists including: Petula Clark, Phil Collins, Michael McDonald, Marc Cohn, and Boyzone.
  • The Tears of a Clown lyrics.

the tears of a clown – smokey robinson and the miracles – 1970 -video

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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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Indiana Wants Me – R. Dean Taylor – 1970

July 23, 2016

R. Dean Taylor Indiana Wants Me 1971Quite an unlikely Motown artist/producer, Canadian and white, R. Dean Taylor was once described as “one of the most underrated acts ever to record under the Motown aegis.”  R. Dean had two big hits – I Gotta See Jane (1968) and 1970’s Indiana Wants Me.

r. dean taylor fax

  • Richard Dean Taylor was born in Toronto, Canada back in 1939.  He began his music career in 1961 and still works in the music business today.
  • R. Dean Taylor 1R. Dean in the US and UK for his three hits, Indiana Wants Me, Gotta See Jane (later covered by Golden Earring, and There’s a Ghost in My House.
  • Taylor began his career in Toronto before moving to Detroit in 1964, where he was hired by Motown Records as a songwriter and recording artist.
  • R. Dean’s first Motown single (on their V.I.P. label), Let’s Go Somewhere was Brian Holland and Lamont Dozier, who had already produced five No. 1 scoring songs for The Supremes. In 1968, Taylor’s self-produced single Gotta See Jane, (co-written with Brian Holland), hit #2 on the UK singles chart. 
  • In the late 60s and early 70s, R. Dean found success as a Motown songwriter.  As part of the Motown writing and production team known as The Clan he wrote material for Diana Ross & the Supremes (Love Child), The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Four Tops, Jackie DeShannon, Marvin Gaye, La Toya Jackson, Graham Parker and Rick Danko.
  • In 1970, R. Dean signed to Motown’s subsidiary Rare Earth, which was dedicated to Caucasian artists.
  • R. Dean Taylor 2His first Rare Earth single, Indiana Wants Me, became a #1 hit in the US and Canada.
  • After a break from the music industry, R. Dean attempted a comeback during the early 1980s but found little success.
  • He owns his own record company, Jane Records.

indiana wants me fax

  • Indiana Wants Me was written and recorded by Canadian singer-songwriter R. Dean Taylor.
  • R. Dean wrote Indiana Wants Me after watching the movie Bonnie and Clyde.
  • The single features a police siren at the beginning.  Thes was removed from some copies supplied to radio stations after complaints that drivers hearing the song on the radio had mistakenly pulled over, thinking that the sounds were real.
  • Released in August 1970, Indiana Wants Me was a #1 hit in both the US and Canada.  It was R. Dean’s only US hit and his biggest hit in the UK where it peaked at #2 in May 1971.
  • Indiana Wants Me lyrics.

indiana wants me – r. dean taylor – 1971 – video

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You Can’t Change That – Raydio – 1979

March 25, 2016

Raydio - you can't change that - 1979Ray Parker Jr’s band before Ghostbusters and his 80s solo career – Raydio had a hit back in 1979 with You Can’t Change That.

raydio fax

  • Formed by Ray Parker, Jr., Vincent Bohnam, Jerry Knight, and Arnell Carmichael, American funk band, Raydio rocked the airwaves between 1977 and 1981.
  • Raydio 2Raydio’s first hit, Jack and Jill, was taken from their self-titled debut album; it peaked at #8 on the US singles charts and #11 on the UK singles chart. 
  • The band released four albums and had three top ten hits in the USA; Jack and Jill, You Can’t Change That and A Woman Needs Love (Just Like You Do).
  • In 1980, Raydio’s name was extended to Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio.  Just a year later Ray declared his intention to go solo and the band split.
  • Ray went on to have a successful solo career, scoring six top 40 hits throughout the 1980s – the most successful being Ghostbusters, which sat at #1 in the US for three weeks in 1984.
  • Raydio 1Meanwhile, Jerry Knight played solo for a while before forming Ollie & Jerry, with Ollie E. Brown.  They had a couple of hits including Electric Boogaloo from the movie Breakin’ 2.

you can’t change that fax

  • You Can’t Change That was written by Ray Parker Jr and first appeared on Raydio’s album, Rock On.
  • It was released as a single in 1979 and peaked at #8 on the US singles chart.  It failed to make the UK charts.
  • In September 1979, Raydio participated in an anti-nuclear concert at Madison Square Garden. Their performance of You Can’t Change That at this show appears on the No Nukes album.
  • You Can’t Change That lyrics.

you can’t change that – raydio – 1979 – video


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This Will Be – Natalie Cole – 1975

October 23, 2015

Natalie Cole - This will be - 1975Born into the world of a musical mega-star, Natalie Cole went on to forge a pretty good musical career of her own.  Her first hit single was 1975’s, This Will Be.

Natalie Cole 1natalie cole fax

  • Natalie Cole found success throughout the mid to late 70s as a R& B performer.
  • Drug addiction saw Natalie fade from the charts throughout most the 80s until her 1987 album Everlasting and the hit single; Bruce Springsteen’s Pink Cadillac.
  • In the 90s she re-recorded some of her father’s hit songs and had her greatest hit, Unforgettable.
  • Natalie’s father was music legend Nat King Cole.
  • Having sold over 30 million records, Natalie has won eight Grammy Awards.
  • Natalie Cole 3Natalie continues to perform today.

this will be fax

  • This Will Be was written by Chuck Jackson and Marvin Yancy.
  • This Will Be was Natalie Cole’s debut single in 1975; lifted from her debut album, Inseperable.
  • The song peaked at #6 on the US singles chart and hit the top of the US R&B chart.  It made the top 40 in the UK.
  • This Will Be won the 1976 Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (Aretha Franklin had won it the previous eight Natalie Cole 2years!) and helped Natalie win the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.  Natalie also won the 1977 Grammy Award for Best Female R& B Performance with, Sophisticated Lady (Such a Different Lady).
  • This Will Be has appeared in numerous movies and movie soundtracks.  Movie soundtracks have included: The Parent Trap (1998), Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Taxi (2004), and Swinging with the Finkels (2010).  Movies to include This Will Be include: While You Were Sleeping (1995), A Cinderella Story (2004), and The Bounty Hunter (2010).
  • This Will Be lyrics.

this will be – natalie cole – 1975 – video

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Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone – The Temptations – 1972

October 19, 2014

The Temptations Papa Was a Rollin Stone 1972In 1972, one of pop’s most successful acts, The Temptations, hit #1 on the US singles chart for the fourth time with Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.

The Temptations 1the temptations fax

  • The Temptations were one of Motown’s first acts and one of their most successful during the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Like many Motown acts of that era they were singers, dancers, and fashion icons.
  • The Temptations continue to perform with one living original member, Otis Williams, still in the line-up. The only other member of the early Temptations still surviving is Dennis Edwards.
  • The Temptations have sold tens of millions of records and have, among their 20+ hit singles, four #1 US singles: My Girl, I Can’t Get Next to You, Just my Imagination (Running Away With Me), Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone. They have also produced 14 #1 US R&B singles.
  • The band has won three Grammy Awards – they were the first Motown act to win a Grammy Award (for Cloud Nine in 1969). In 2013, they were awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • Speaking of awards; The Temptations, Dennis Edwards, Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, David Ruffin, Otis Williams and Paul Williams) were inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989; and three of their songs, Three classic Temptations songs, My Girl, Just My The Temptations 2Imagination (Running Away with Me), and Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone, are among The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.
  • In 2004, Rolling Stone magazine ranked The Temptations #67 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

papa was a rollin’ stone – the temptations – 1972

  • Otis Williams considers Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone to be the last real classic the group recorded.
  • Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone was written by famous Motown writers, Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong.
  • The song was originally released in 1971 by Motown band, The Undisputed Truth in 1971.
  • The Temptations version was recorded in June 1972 and released in September of that year. It dented the charts, but only just; it peaked at #63.
  • Norman Whitfield had produced Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone and, later in 1972, remixed it as a 12:05 minute long record – it went straight to #1 on the US singles chart and won three Grammy Awards in 1973 – Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group, Best R&B Instrumental (for the B-side) and Best R&B Song.
  • The Temptations 3The B-side of the single was the instrumental of the song – the music to Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone was performed by The Funk Brothers, the Motown session band who backed most the Motown artists.
  • Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone has been covered by several artists including: George Michael, Run-D.M.C., David Lindley and El Rayo-X, Los Lobos, Phil Collins and Craig David.
  • In 1985, in the Battle of the Groups segment of the TV special Motown Returns to the Apollo, The Four Tops sang the coda of Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone. The Temptations pretended to be outraged.  They responded by singing The Four Tops’ hit, Baby I Need Your Loving.
  • In 1994, comedian Bob Rivers parodied the song as Grandpa Loved the Rolling Stones.
  • Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone lyrics.

papa was a rollin’ stone – the temptations -1972 – video – SHORT Version

papa was a rollin’ stone – the temptations -1972 – video – LONG Version

papa was a rollin’ stone – the undisputed truth – 1971 – video

grandpa loves the rolling stones – bob rivers – 1994 – video

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Family Affair – Sly and the Family Stone – 1971

February 6, 2014

Sly 1 coverBelieve it or not, one of the very first single records I ever bought – back in the days when we still bought single records – was I Want to Take You Higher, by Sly and the Family Stone. Unfortunately, with a 1969 release date, that song falls just outside of the seventiesmusic boundary (not that that’s stopped us before). But this one doesn’t; Family Affair, a 1970 #1 hit for Sly and the Family Stone.

sly and the family stone fax

  • Obviously an American band, Sly and the Family Stone originated from San Francisco and, from 1967 to 1983, put out a string of hit funk/soul singles and albums.
  • Headed by Sly Stone, the band contained both family members and friends, but was actually an amalgam of two bands: Sly’s band, Sly & the Stoners and his brother Freddie’s band, Freddie & the Stone Souls.
  • Sly and the Family Stone had five top ten US hit singles and four hit albums. Hit songs included: Everyday People, Stand!, I Want to Take you Higher, and Family Affair.
  • They appeared at Woodstock in what is often referred to as one of the highlights of the festival.
  • So pivotal were Sly and his band in the shaping of soul and funk music that it was once said,

There are two types of black music: black music before Sly Stone, and black music after Sly Stone.

  • Sly and the band were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
  • The band was dogged with scandal involving drug use and, in 1987, Sly was arrested and sentenced for cocaine use. That heralded his retirement.
  • In September 2011, the New York Post reported that Sly was homeless and living out of a white camper-van in Los Angeles:

The van is parked on a residential street in Crenshaw, the rough Los Angeles neighborhood where ‘Boyz n the Hood’ was set. A retired couple makes sure he eats once a day, and Stone showers at their house.

family affair fax

  • Recorded in early 1971, Family Affair was released as a single on November 6, 1971 ,taken from Sly and the Family Stone’s album, There’s a Riot Goin’ On.
  • It became a #1 single on the US charts.
  • Family Affair was unlike Sly and the Stone’s previous recordings, being quieter than their previous lively funk sound.
  • Rolling Stone magazine once ranked Family Affair at #138 on their 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • Cover versions of Family Affair have included: The Brothers Johnson, Iggy Pop, Madonna, Bunny Wailer, and Janet Jackson, and is sampled in The Black Eyed Peas song, Weekend.
  • Family Affair’s drum machine-created rhythm was used in The Temptations’, Let Your Hair Down (1973), and Stevie Wonder‘s You Haven’t Done Nothin’ (1974). In 2005, John Legend, Joss Stone, and Van Hunt recorded a cover featuring elements of the original recording for Different Strokes by Different Folks, a Sly & the Family Stone tribute/remix album. This version won the 2007 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
  • Family Affair features on the soundtrack of The Addams Family movie.
  • Family Affair lyrics.

family affair – sly and the family stone – 1971 – video

i want to take you higher – sly and the family stone – 1969 – video – live

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