One Bad Apple – The Osmonds – 1970

February 19, 2017

one-bad-apple-cover-the-osmonds-1971The seventies saw a number of family bands hit the charts.  The Jacksons, The Cowsills, Sly and the Family Stone, Sister Sledge, The Partridge Family… well, maybe not the Partridge Family – At the forefront of these brother/sister bands were the Jacksons and The Osmonds.  The latter having a 1970 hit with One Bad Apple.

 the osmonds fax

  • The Osmonds were six brothers (six of eight brothers and a sister) who became teen idols in the early 70s.
  • The boys began as a barbershop quartet featuring, Alan, Wayne, Merrill and Jay.  They were joined by younger brothers Donny and Jimmy; changed their name to The Osmonds, and the rest is history.
  • the-osmondsTwo older brothers, George and Tom were born deaf and didn’t originally perform with the family band but, in later years, made several television appearances in the Osmond Christmas specials.
  • Donny and Jimmy, and sister Marie, went on to have successful solo careers.
  • The Osmonds continue to perform in various line-ups or as soloists today.  Collectively, the family has sold 102 million records worldwide and have a star on the Hollywood Wall of Fame.

one bad apple fax

  • One Bad Apple was written by songwriter George Jackson and recorded by The Osmonds on October 26, 1970.
  • Released as a single, the B-side was a cover of The Hollies’, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.
  • Released in late 1970, One Bad Apple hit #1 on the US charts in February 1971, sitting comfortably there for five weeks.  It ended the year being ranked as #4 song for 1971.
  • The song is lifted from The Osmonds debut album, Osmonds.
  • George Jackson wrote the song with The Jackson 5 in mind – Michael Jackson apparently once said his brothers almost recorded the song but recorded ABC instead.
  • One Bad Apple lyrics.

one bad apple – the osmonds – 1971 – video

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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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Rose Garden – Lynn Anderson – 1970

January 24, 2017

lynn-anderson-rose-garden-single-cover-1970Now, here’s a blast from the past. I was planting a rose garden at home the other day and, try as I did, could not escape this ear-worm; Rose Garden, Lynn Anderson’s 1970 country hit.

lynn anderson fax

  • Born in Canada, very close to the US border, Lynn Anderson parents registered her birth in Grand Forks, USA, so that she would have US citizenship.
  • Lynn’s mother introduced her to music. Lynn was working as a secretary at a Sacramento radio station when one of her mother’s songs, All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers, was recorded by Merle Haggard.  Lynn’s mother signed with RCA Victor and toured with many of the country stars of the 60s.  One night, at an informal sing-a-long, a record producer heard Lynn sing.  He invited her to join his label and… a star was born.
  • In all, Lynn had twelve #1 and over 50 Top 40 hits on the US country music charts. She was nominated for a Grammy Award seven times and won a Grammy in 1971 for the Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
  • Lynn’s first hit was Ride, Ride, Ride, back in 1966 when she was just 19.
  • Outside of music, Lynn was an accomplished equestrian sportswoman, winning 16 national and eight world championships.
  • Lynn died of a heart attack on July 30, 2015.

rose garden fax

  • Rose Garden, also known as (I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden, was written by is a song written by Joe South – a song writer and guitarist who played on some great albums including; Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence and Aretha Franklin’s Chain of Fools.
  • Rose Garden was first released by Billy Joe Royal in 1967 but the best-known version was Lynn Anderson’s cover, released in October 1970.
  • Lynn’s version sat at #1 on the US country chart for five weeks and made the top 3 singles charts in both the US and UK (and hit #1 in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, and Norway).
  • The song won Lynn a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance in 1971, and earned Joe South two Grammy nominations, Best Country Song and Song of the Year in the pop category.
  • Lynn once said of the song,

“I believe that ‘Rose Garden’ was released at just the right time. People were trying to recover from the Vietnam years. The message in the song—that if you just take hold of life and go ahead, you can make something out of nothing—people just took to that.”

  • k.d. lang and her band The Reclines covered Rose Garden on their 1987 album Angel with a Lariat. While failing to chart, it was k.d.’s first release in the US. Then, in 2005, Martina McBride included the song on her album of covers, Timeless – featuring classic country songs from the past.  Rose Garden was released as a single, peaking at #18 on the country singles charts.
  • Canadian band Kon Kan sampled parts of Rose Garden in their 1989 single I Beg Your Pardon – their song peaked at #15 in the US and #5 on the UK Singles Chart.
  • Rose Garden lyrics.

rose garden – lynn anderson – 1970 – video

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Wildfire – Michael Murphey – 1975

January 16, 2017

wildfire-michael-murpheyKnown to sometimes appear in those lists of “Worst Song Lyrics of All Time,” Michael Murphey’s 1975 hit Wildfire has been described by David Letterman as, “haunting and disturbingly mysterious, but always lovely.”

michael murphey fax

  • American Michael Murphey is a true cowboy – a lover of the outdoors, a native of Texas, a ranch owner and a writer and singer of western music.
  • With six gold albums to his name, Michael’s had 12 singles reach the American Country top ten.
  • Originally singing as Michael Murphey, since 1982 (yes, he is still performing) he has added his middle name and performed as Michael Martin Murphey.
  • Michael has been married four times. His first wife was Diana Vero, former secretary to Brian Epstein.  Diana was with The Beatles when they travelled through the US in 1964.  Their son, Ryan, has also made a name in the American country music scene.

wildfire fax

  • Wildfire was written by Michael Murphey and Larry Cansler, and was originally recorded by Michael.
  • It is the lead single from his 1975 gold album Blue Sky – Night Thunder, and is Michael’s highest charting US single, peaking at #2 on the US singles charts.
  • In all, Wildfire has sold over two million copies.
  • It is listed by the members of the Western Writers of America as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.
  • In 2007, David Letterman, seemed to become infatuated with Wildfire. Over a course of several weeks and a number of episodes of The Late Show, he discussed the song and its lyrics.  Eventually, Michael was invited on the show to sing.
  • Wildfire appears in an episode of The Simpsons named Lisa’s Pony. Lisa plays Wildfire to her pony with her saxophone.
  • It hasn’t all been good for Michael’s tune – it has occasionally appeared in worst song lyric lists.
  • Wildfire lyrics.

wildfire – michael murphy – 1975 – video

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Year of the Cat – Al Stewart – 1976

January 1, 2017

year_of_the_cat_-_al_stewartFor over 50 years, Al Stewart has been a part of the English music scene. He’s best remembered for his 1976 hit, Year of the Cat.

al stewart fax

  • Alastair Stewart, born in Glasgow but growing up in Dorset, England, became an integral part of the British folk revival of the 60s and 70s.
  • In 1965, Al bought his first guitar from Andy Summers (a long time before Police was even thought of) but traded it in for an acoustic guitar when he was offered a weekly slot at a Soho coffee shop. He went on to compere at the Les Cousins folk club on Greek Street, where he played alongside Cat Stevens, Van Morrison, Roy Harper, and Paul Simon.  He and Paul used to flat together.
  • Al’s best known for his 1976 hit single Year of the Cat, the title song from his platinum album of the same name; and for the 1978 follow-up album Time Passages which also went platinum.
  • Al played at the first-ever Glastonbury Festival in 1970.
  • Since his 1967 debut album Bedsitter Images, Al has released 16 studio and three live albums. [Editor’s note: his latest live album, Uncorked, is tremendous and showcases his wonderful guitar skills.]
  • Al has, in his 51 years in the music industry, worked with some of musical greats such as: Alan Parsons, Jimmy Page, Richard Thompson, Rick Wakeman, and Tori Amos.
  • Since 1976, Al has lived in Los Angeles. He’s well-known for writing lyrics that tell the tales of characters and events from history.

the year of the cat fax

  • Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, Year of the Cat was released in July 1976 and is the title track of Al Stewart’s third album.
  • It was written by Al and Peter Wood – keyboard player for a number of bands and artists including Pink Floyd.
  • Year of the Cat peaked at #8 on the US singles chart and #31 on the UK singles chart.
  • Two versions of the song were recorded; the 4:38 length single version and the 6:40 album version.
  • The song’s title referred to one of the twelve signs of the Vietnamese zodiac. It corresponds to that of the Rabbit in the Chinese zodiac but, at the time of the song’s release, the most Chinese year was the Year of the Rabbit – Al thought that didn’t have quite the same ring to it and so went with the Vietnamese Year of the Cat.
  • Year of the Cat appears in the film version of Running with Scissors (2006).
  • Year of the Cat lyrics.

year of the cat – al stewart – 1976 – video – short version

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Without You – Harry Nilsson – 1971

October 14, 2016

nilsson-without-you-1971As great as Harry Nilsson was at song writing, he didn’t write the two hits he’s best known for, Everybody’s Talkin’ and, this week’s song, Without You.

harry nilsson fax

  • Harry Edward Nilsson III is usually known simply as Nilsson.
  • Born in Brooklyn in 1941, he became one of the 70s great singer-songwriters.
  • nilsson-1Nilsson’s grandparents were circus performers.  His father left his home when he was very young and he had an upbringing characterised by poverty.  Because of the poor financial situation of his family, he started work as a young teen.  He worked initially at the Paramount Theatre in Los Angeles. When he theatre closed in 1960, he applied for a job at a bank, falsely claiming he was a high school graduate on his application (he only completed ninth grade).  He had an aptitude for computers, however.  Banks were just beginning to use computers and so good was he at his job that, even after uncovering his deception regarding being a high school graduate, the bank retained him.  He worked on bank computers at night, and in the daytime pursued his song writing and singing career.  By the mid-60s, he’d worked with Phil Spector and Little Richard, and had songs Glen Campbell, Fred Astaire, The Shangri-Las, The Yardbirds, and others.  Despite his growing success, Nilsson remained on the night shift at the bank.
  • nilsson-3Of interest is that Nilsson achieves his significant commercial success without ever performing major public concerts or undertaking regular tours.
  • Nilsson is best known for singles Everybody’s Talkin’ (1969), Without You (1971), and Coconut (1972).  Only the latter was actually written by Nilsson.  Nilsson also wrote Three Dog Night’s hit One (1968) and the Monkees’ hit, Cuddly Toy.
  • Nilsson released 16 albums, including four soundtracks.
  • Nilsson won two Grammy Awards; Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male in 1970 for Everybody’s Talkin’, from the movie Midnight Cowboy, and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male in 1973 for Without You.
  • In 2015, he was ranked at #62 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of The 100 Greatest Songwriters of All Time.

nilsson trivia

  • In the 70s, Nilsson lived at Flat 12, 9 Curzon Street, Mayfair, London – an apartment he often lent to friends while he was away.  During one of his absences, Cass Elliot stayed at the flat while she was performing at the London Palladium.  It was in Nilsson’s apartment that Cass died on July 29, 1974.
  • Just over four years later, The Who‘s drummer Keith Moon was staying in the apartment when he died.
  • Both singers were aged 32.  Nilsson, distraught over another friend’s death in his apartment, sold it to Pete Townshend.

without you fax

  • nilsson-2Without You  was written by Pete Ham and Tom Evans of Badfinger and first released on their 1970 album No Dice.
  • Without You has been recorded by over 180 artists – two artists having hit records with it; Harry Nilsson (1971) and Mariah Carey (1994)
  • Paul McCartney once described Without You as as “the killer song of all time”.
  • In 1972, writers Ham and Evans received the British Academy’s Ivor Novello Award for Best Song Musically and Lyrically.
  • Hilsson’s version spent five weeks at #1 in the UK.  Mariah Carey’s version was based on Nilsson’s version and topped the charts in the UK and peaked at #3 in the US.
  • Without You lyrics.

without you – nilsson – 1971

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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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