Blue Skies – Willie Nelson – 1978

July 9, 2017

Blue Skies Willie Nelson 1978Born in 1933, Willie Nelson released his first single in 1957. He became a regular on the US and Canadian country charts but barely featured on the singles charts, until his 1978 album Stardust – two #1’s and a #3 changed everything for Willie.

willie nelson fax

  • Willie is hailed as “one of the most recognised artists in country music,” and that is probably true; in fact, he may be THE most recognised artist in country music!
  • Willie was born in Texas, with music flowing through his veins – he wrote his first song at age seven and joined his first band at ten. During high school, he toured locally with the Bohemian Polka as their lead singer and guitar player.
  • After school, he endured a brief stay in the US Air Force before being discharged due to back problems.
  • He worked as a DJ in Texas radio stations and a singer in honky-tonk bars around the state.
  • In 1958, he signed a contract with D Records and wrote a number of songs that would become country standards, including Funny How Time Slips Away, Hello Walls, Pretty Paper, and Crazy.
  • In 1960 he moved to Nashville, Tennessee, signed a publishing contract with Pamper Music and, by 1962, had recorded his first album, …And Then I Wrote.
  • That success enabled Willed to sign with RCA Victor and join the Grand Ole Opry.
  • Believe it or not, Willie retired in 1972. He moved to Austin, Texas and tried to settle down but the music kept flowing.
  • He signed to Atlantic Records, then Columbia Records. It was here that he produced those great albums from the mid-late 70s, including Stardust.
  • During the mid-1980s, while creating hit albums like Honeysuckle Rose and recording hit songs like On the Road Again, and To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before, Willie joined the country band, The Highwaymen, alongside fellow singers Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson.
  • Willie continues to perform today. He has won twelve Grammy awards, including a lifetime achievement award; seven American Music Awards, nine CMA awards, five Academy of Country Music awards – in fact, it would appear, Willie has won every major award he’s ever been nominated for!

blue skies fax

  • Blue Skies was written by Irving Berlin in 1926. It was a last-minute addition to the Rodgers and Hart musical Betsy.
  • The show, Betsy, ran for a mere 39 performances, but Blue Skies was an instant hit. On the opening night of the musical, the audience demanded 24 encores of the song.
  • In 1927, Ben Selvin had a hit with the song.
  • The same year, Blue Skies became one of the first songs to be featured in a talkie movie – Al Jolson sang it in The Jazz Singer.
  • Other artistes to sing or perform Blue Skies include: Benny Goodman and his Orchestra (1935), Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, and Count Basie, and Benny Goodman all recording it in 1946. Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye performed the song in 1954’s White Christmas.  Jim Reeves sang it in 1962.
  • Best known in recent times is Willie Nelson’s 1978 recording from his album Stardust. This version was a #1 hit on the US country charts.
  • Blue Skies lyrics.

blue skies – willie nelson – 1978 – video

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Chanson D’Amour – The Manhattan Transfer – 1977

July 1, 2017

Chanson d'Amour The Manhatten TransferClassy a capella vocals – the Manhattan Transfer’s 1977 hit, Chanson D’Amour.

the manhattan transfer fax

  • Formed in New York in 1969, The Manhattan Transfer is a jazz vocal group.
  • There have been two editions of the Manhattan Transfer, with Tim Hauser the only person to be part of both. The first group consisted of Tim, Erin Dickins, Marty Nelson, Pat Rosalia, and Gene Pistilli. They released only one album – it was unsuccessful and the group broke up.  The second version of the group, formed in 1972, consisted of Tim, Alan Paul, Janis Siegel, and Laurel Massé.
  • In 1979, after Laurel being badly injured in a car accident, Cheryl Bentyne joined the group. Then, in 2014, following Tim’s death, Trist Curless joined.
  • In 1975, the group released their eponymous album and hit the charts for the first time. The album included their first hit single, the gospel song, Operator.
  • In all, they have released 29 albums – the last in 2009 being a collection of Chick Corea music.
  • In 1981, the Manhattan Transfer made music history by becoming the first group to win Grammy awards for both popular and jazz categories in the same year with their hit, The Boy from New York City. In 1982, they won another Grammy – Best Jazz Vocal Performance for Route 66.  In all, they won eight Grammy’s.
  • In 1998, they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
  • The Manhattan Transfer continue to tour today.

chanson d’amour fax

  • Chanson D’Amour, meaning Love Song, was written by Wayne Shanklin in the mid-1950’s.
  • Chanson D’Amour was first recorded by husband and wife duo, Art and Dotty Todd in 1958. Their version peaked at #6 on the US charts in 1958.
  • Charting concurrently with Art and Dotty were The Fontane Sisters who recorded a version of Chanson D’Amour and peaked at #12.
  • The Manhattan Transfer recorded the song in 1976 for their Coming Out album and, in 1977 reached #1 on the UK Singles Chart.
  • Cover versions have also been released by The Lettermen, The Muppets and The Nolans.
  • Chanson D’Amour was featured in the episode “The Pop Star”, the 1984 series finale of the long-running British sitcom Are You Being Served?
  • It also features on the soundtrack of Stanley Kubrick’s final film Eyes Wide Shut (1999).
  • Chanson D’Amour lyrics.

chanson d’amour – the manhattan transfer – 1977 – video

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Tell Me Something Good – Rufus (featuring Chaka Khan) – 1974

June 22, 2017

Rufus - Tell me something good 1974A band packed with great musicians, Chicago band Rufus is best known for launching the career of lead singer Chaka Khan.

rufus fax

  • Starting life as “Ask Rufus,” the band Rufus had their beginnings in pop band, The American Breed. Ask Rufus formed in 1970 and, by 1972 Chaka Khan had joined.
  • 1972 saw the band sign with manager Bob Monaco (Minnie Riperton was signed with him also).
  • Bob persuaded ABC Dunhill records to stump up some cash to pay for a demo record. In two days, the band had recorded 11 songs and signed a long-term recording contract.
  • With their first album receiving moderate success, Rufus hit the studio again to record their follow-up album Rags to Rufus which included the Stevie Wonder song, Tell Me Something Good, and a song by Ray Parker Jr. and Chaka, You Got The Love – both songs became smash hits.
  • Rufus was a band blighted by in-fighting and inner-tension, partly because of the rise in fame of Chaka ahead of the rest of the band. Such was the power of Chaka’s performing that the record company began billing the band as, Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan.  Often, at photo shoots and the like, only Chaka was photographed and her image alone was used in magazine articles and stories.
  • It wasn’t long before Chaka was releasing solo albums and finding great success; Rufus released an album without Chaka and it bombed.
  • By 1983, Rufus band members sensed that their tenure was over. They agreed to split on the terms they release one last live album to commemorate the occasion.  Chaka agreed to appear at their final concert performance which was filmed by Warner Bros.  The band then went their separate ways for good with Chaka becoming one of the most revered R&B artists of her generation with the release of the single I Feel for You cementing her reputation.
  • In all, Rufus released 11 albums and 30 singles in the time they were together.
  • The band won two Grammy awards: 1974: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Tell Me Something Good, and 1983: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals: Ain’t Nobody.

tell me something good fax

  • Tell Me Something Good was written by Stevie Wonder and recorded by Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan in 1974.
  • The song peaked at #3 on the US singles chart.
  • Tell Me Something Good is one of the first songs to use the guitar talk box effect – it was played by Tony Maiden.
  • Rufus won the 1975 Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Duo, Group or Chorus for Tell Me Something Good.
  • Cover versions of Tell Me Something Good have been performed live and/or recorded by artists including Pink, Dave Matthews and Stevie Wonder.
  • The song has appeared or been referenced in the US comedy shows, Everybody Loves Raymond, Will and Grace, and That 70s Show. Note that the captioning to the Will and Grace episode incorrectly credits the song to Sly and the Family Stone.
  • Tell Me Something Good lyrics.

tell me something good – rufus featuring chaka khan – 1974 – video – slower version

tell me something good – rufus featuring chaka khan – 1974 – video – faster version

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Freedom – Richie Havens – 1972

June 11, 2017

Freedom Richie HavensIt’s a brilliant pub-quiz trivia question – who was the first onstage act at Woodstock? Answer, Richie Havens.  Richie is remembered for his amazing rendition of Freedom, a song not released as a single until 1972.

richie havens fax

  • Richard “Richie” Havens was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist known for his intense and rhythmic guitar style (often in open tunings) – but also for being the opening act at the 1969 Woodstock Festival.
  • Richie was scheduled to perform for 40 minutes, but when a traffic jam delayed the other performers, he was asked to keep playing. Three hours later, Richie had run out of songs, so he started to make one up to the melody of “Motherless Child,” a spiritual he’d sung as a kid. He just kept singing “Freedom,” and it became one of the pivotal moments of the festival.
  • Born in Brooklyn, Richie was of Native American (Blackfoot) descent on his father’s side, and of the British West Indies on his mother’s.
  • As a teen, he organised local friends into doo-wop groups and performed on street corners. By the age of 20, he’d left to become a folk performer in Greenwich Village where he performed alongside the likes of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.
  • Performing at Woodstock was the turning point of Richie’s career. He became a star, known more for the passion of his live performances than for his recorded albums.
  • He recorded 12 albums between 1966 and 1977, and 21 throughout his career – the last in 2008.
  • In later years, Richie was dogged by ill-health. In 2010, he had kidney surgery from which he never fully recovered.  In 2012, he announced that, after 45 years, he would stop touring.
  • Just over a year later, on April 22, 2013, Richie died of a heart attack at home in Jersey City, New Jersey.
  • At the time of his death, the BBC referred to him as a “Woodstock icon,” while Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young said Richie “could never be replicated.” The Daily Telegraph wrote that Richie “made an indelible mark on contemporary music.
  • In accordance with Richie’s wishes, his remains were cremated and his ashes scattered from the air over the original site of the Woodstock Festival, in a ceremony held on August 18, 2013, the 44th anniversary of the last day of the festival.

freedom fax

  • Freedom was composed by Richie Havens on stage on the opening day of Woodstock 1969. Having been asked to keep playing long past his scheduled 40 minutes, Richie ran out of songs.  He began to make a song up based on the Afro-American spiritual, Motherless Child.
  • Richie once told Rolling Stone magazine,

I think the word ‘freedom’ came out of my mouth because I saw it in front of me. I saw the freedom that we were looking for. And every person was sharing it, and so that word came out.

  • When the cut of the song was put on the film Woodstock, it became an international hit instantly.
  • The song was released as a single in 1972. Despite its popularity, it charted on neither the US nor the UK charts.
  • Freedom appears in the movie Django Unchained.
  • Freedom lyrics.

freedom – richie havens – 1972 -video

freedom – richie havens – 1969 Woodstock – video

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Rhinestone Cowboy – Glen Campbell – 1975

May 21, 2017

Rhinestone Cowboy Glen Campbell 1975It’s difficult to believe Glen Campbell is now 81 years old! And there is also his well-publiscised battle with Alzheimers.  I hope, in some way, he appreciates how much those who love 70s music value the contribution he made to our musical lives throughout the 60s, 70s and beyond.

glen campbell fax

  • Born in Arkansas in 1936, Glen was the seventh son of 12 children.
  • Glen started playing guitar in his teens, taught by his uncle whose band he joined in 1954.
  • By 1958, Glen had formed his own band, the Western Wranglers before moving to Los Angeles in 1960 to become a session musician, songwriter and recorder of demos. He was a part of a group of musicians known as The Wrecking Crew.  The Wrecking Crew would back him on a number of recordings throughout his career.
  • As a backing musician, Glen played on recordings by Campbell played on recordings by many of the eras great artists, including, Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, The Monkees, Nancy Sinatra, Merle Haggard, Jan and Dean, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Phil Spector.
  • In 1961, Glen was signed to Crest Records he signed to Capitol Records a year later) and began his solo career.
  • Throughout the 60s and 70s, Glen had a string of hit songs and, for three years, hosted his own music and comedy variety show called The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour.
  • During his 50 years in show business, Glen released over 70 albums and sold over 45 million records. 12 of those albums achieved gold record status, with four becoming platinum albums and one double-platinum album.
  • He has had over 80 singles hit the charts, 29 top 10’s and nine #1s, including, Gentle on My Mind; By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Wichita Lineman, Galveston, Rhinestone Cowboy and Southern Nights.
  • In 1967, Glen won four Grammys total in the country and pop categories – two for Gentle on My Mind in the country and western category and two for By the Time I Get to Phoenix in the pop category.
  • In 2012, Glen was awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012.
  • Glen has appeared in 11 movies, including playing alongside John Wayne in the classic, True Grit.
  • In June 2011, Glen announced he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease six months earlier. He embarked on a “Goodbye Tour,” with three of his children joining him in his backup band.  His final show was on November 30, 2012, in Napa, California and he performed Rhinestone Cowboy as a goodbye at the 2012 Grammy Awards ceremony held on February 12, 2012, his final televised on-stage performance.  Since April 2014, he has been a patient at an Alzheimer’s long-term care and treatment facility where, he is reported to be unable to communicate with people and understand what people say.  His family have stated, Glen is receiving good care and is “happy” and “cheerful.”

glen campbell trivia

  • From December 1964 to early March 1965, Glen was a touring member of The Beach Boys, filling in for Brian Wilson. He also played guitar on the band’s Pet Sounds (1966) album, among other Beach Boys recordings. On tour, he played bass guitar and sang falsetto harmonies.

rhinestone cowboy fax

  • Rhinestone Cowboy was written by Larry Weiss and recorded on his 1974 album Black and White.
  • In late 1974, Campbell heard Rhinestone Cowboy on the radio. He was touring Australia and decided to learn the song. On returning to the US, he was talking to a record company exec. who told him about a great song he should record… the song was Rhinestone Cowboy.
  • Glen recorded the song in March 1975 with The Wrecking Crew. It was released on May 26, 1975.
  • Rhinestone Cowboy hit #1 on the US singles chart and #4 on the UK singles chart. Interestingly, it was one of six songs released in 1975 that topped both the US singles chart and the US Country singles chart. The others being: Before the Next Teardrop Falls by Freddy Fender, (Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song by BJ Thomas Thank God I’m a Country Boy and I’m Sorry/Calypso, both by John Denver, and Convoy by C. W. McCall.
  • In 2013, Glen recorded a new version of Rhinestone Cowboy for his final studio album, See You There.
  • Rhinestone Cowboy served as the basis for the 1984 movie Rhinestone, starring Sylvester Stallone and Dolly Parton.
  • Amongst artists to cover Rhinestone Cowboy are, Slim Whitman, Guns N’ Roses and Tony Clifton (aka Andy Kaufman).
  • Rhinestone Cowboy lyrics.

rhinestone cowboy – glen campbell – 1975 – video

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Memphis, Tennessee – Roy Orbison – 1972

May 5, 2017

One of the greatest ever songs of all time was a hit for neither Chuck Berry nor Roy Orbison – but it’s a great song all the same – Memphis Tennessee

roy orbison fax

  • Born in Texas in 1936, died in Hendersonville, Tennessee in 1988 – he was only 52, but what a ride!!
  • Most of Roy’s success was in the early rock and roll era from 1957 to 1964. At the height of his popularity, Roy had 22 songs on the US top 40, 6 Top five hits and, 2 went all the way to #1 – Running Scared and Oh, Pretty Woman.
  • In the UK Roy had ten Top 10 hits between 1960 and 1966, including three #1’s – Only the Lonely, It’s Over, and Oh, Pretty Woman.
  • In the 1980s there was a resurgence in Roy’s popularity via The Traveling Wilburys (with Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, and George Harrison).
  • Roy’s start in music came thanks to Sam Phillips at Sun Records where he had moderate success.
  • Later he recorded several songs at Monument Records under producer Fred Foster. With Fred and song writing partners Joe Melson and Bill Dees, Roy wrote songs that were more suited to his unique voice.
  • Roy died of a heart attack on December 6, 1988. He had taken on a heavy workload and had complained to Johnny Cash that he was having chest pains that he feared were health related.
  • Two posthumous albums have been released. Mystery Girl, just after his death (1989) – he was working on it at the time of his death.  And, King of Hearts (1999) which was put together from master sessions and demos by Jeff Lynne for Virgin Records.
  • Most of the16 singles Roy released in the 70s didn’t even dent the charts. He did, however, do a great version of Memphis, Tennessee, which peaked at #84 in Australia; it didn’t chart anywhere else in the world – but is a great version.

memphis, tennessee fax

  • Memphis, Tennessee was written and first recorded by Chuck Berry.
  • Chuck released it in 1959 – surprisingly, it failed to chart anywhere in the world except the UK where it peaked at #6 in 1963.
  • Interestingly, at the same time as Chuck’s release was in the UK charts, Decca Records issued a cover version in the UK by Dave Berry and the Cruisers – it also became a UK Top 20 hit single.
  • Johnny Rivers covered the song in 1964 – his version made it to #2 on the US charts.
  • Memphis, Tennessee may be one of the most covered songs of all time. Artists to have covered it include: The Beatles, The Animals, The Who (as The High Numbers), Paul Anka, Count Basie, The Dave Clark Five, Bo Diddley, Faces, Al Green, The Hollies, Jan and Dean, Tom Jones, Jerry Lee Lewis, Led Zeppelin, Roy Orbison, Elvis Presley, Johnny Rivers, The Rolling Stones, Del Shannon, Wayne Fontana & the Mindbenders, The Statler Brothers, Rod Stewart, George Thorogood, Conway Twitty, and Hank Williams Jr.
  • Chuck Berry later composed a sequel, “Little Marie”, which appeared in 1964 as a single and on the album St. Louis to Liverpool.
  • The Beatles first performed this song for their failed Decca audition on 1 January 1962, with Pete Best on drums.
  • Memphis, Tennessee lyrics.

memphis, tennessee – roy orbison – 1972


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I Think I Love You – The Partridge Family – 1970

April 7, 2017

I think I love you - Partridge FamilyDebut single from debut album – straight to #1 – I Think I Love You from The Partridge Family!

the partridge family fax

  • I think we all know the story – The Partridge Family, an American musical-sitcom. A widowed mother (Shirley Jones) and her five children somehow become pop stars.
  • The show ran from September 25, 1970, until March 23, 1974, the band ran for almost exactly the same time span.
  • Apparently, the show was loosely based on The Cowsills; a real-life family band.
  • To promote the show, ABC released a series of albums and – did they play their own instruments? No.  David Cassidy sang, and Shirley Jones provided some BVs, but that was it.  No other cast member featured on any recording.
  • Of course, David Cassidy became a teen idol leading him to be signed as a solo act. David gathered his own band and toured across the USA, UK, Europe, Japan and Australia, singing his own songs and those of “his family.”
  • The Partridge Family’s biggest hit was back in 1970 – their debut single, I Think I Love You.
  • The band’s first album, The Partridge Family Album, peaked at #4 on the US album charts and sold over a million copies.
  • A number of hits followed: Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted, I’ll Meet You Halfway, I Woke Up In Love This Morning, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do, etc.
  • In just four years, The Partridge Family released 89 songs on 9 albums.

Even as late as 2017, David was touring and singing the old hits. He had his battles with drink, but now battles dementia and has retired from singing.

In 1971, The Partridge Family were nominated for a Grammy in the Best New Artist category.

i think i love you fax

  • I Think I Love You was written by Tony Romeo who previously wrote a number of hits for The Cowsills.
  • In 1970, I Think I Love You was released as the debut single by The Partridge Family, featuring David Cassidy on lead vocals and Shirley Jones on BVs.
  • The song went straight to #1 on the US charts – the band’s only #1 hit. It peaked at #18 on the UK charts.
  • I Think I Love You was 1970s top selling record in the US. It sold over five million copies, outselling the Beatles’ Let It Be, and making The Partridge Family the third fictional artist to have a #1 hit (after The Chipmunks and The Archies).
  • I Think I Love You lyrics.

i think i love you – the partridge family – 1970

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