May 14 – At Times Staton’s Heart Ran Too Free

Happy birthday to a lady who’s been dubbed “the Queen of Southern Soul”, a disco superstar and a member of the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. And at 82 and still active, Candi Staton‘s a survivor, which she says is the one title she’s proudest of.

She’s come through numerous changes to the music scene, being molested as a child, several abusive marriages and breast cancer…which she told NPR was her hardest fight. “Fighting a human is one thing, fighting something you can’t see is another.”

She was born in rural northern Alabama, but her family moved to Nashville while she was still quite young, and sent her to a Christian school where her great voice got noticed. By the early ’50s, she, her sister and another young woman had formed the Jewell Gospel Trio and toured churches and revivals in the South with the likes of Mahalia Jackson, beginning to cut records by 1953 – when Candi (born Canzetta) was just 13. They were quite popular, but by the mid-’60s, she’d transitioned more to mainstream R&B or soul music, eventually compiling a dozen top 20s on U.S. R&B charts, usually covers like “In the Ghetto” and Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man”, which was her first regular chart hit, getting to #24 in 1970.

Her big break was the disco hit “Young Hearts Run Free”, a catchy song of independence. She said it was rather a companion piece to her friend Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Staton said Gaynor broke the “glass ceiling” with that one. Before it, she figured DJs wanted songs by females to be “baby, please don’t leave me…I’m your slave.” “I Will Survive” and her hit made it OK for women to be headstrong. The song took her career several steps ahead quickly. Before it, she says “I was playing what they called the ‘Chitlin Circuit’…backwoods, R&B, juke joint clubs with women painted on the walls. Most nights you’d have to chase the promoter down to get paid.”

She says she recorded it in one take – “the hurt in my voice is real…I was singing my life.” She took her own advice, and “was smart enough to …get rid” of an abusive husband she said was a drug-abuser and pimp “and run to my Mom’s house.” Soon she could probably afford better accommodations for herself (and maybe her mother too!) with the single hitting the U.S. top 20, and #21 to the north in Canada. But it was Britain where it really made a mark, getting to #2, going platinum …and re-charting again in both the ’80s and ’90s. It helped set her up as a star over there, with her recording four more top 40 hits in the decade that followed, including a cover of “Suspicious Minds.”

In the ’80s she became friends with Jim and Tammy Bakker and they helped her set up a ministry in Atlanta with her new husband; at that time she switched to mostly gospel music which has been well-received in that circuit and represents about half of her 30 studio album discography, although her most recent album, 2018’s Unstoppable is described more as “retro R&B”.

As smart as she is, she’s not had the best of luck picking mates. She’s been married six times, including to R&B star “Strokin’” Clarence Carter and even baseball player Otis Nixon. They haven’t always gone well, prompting her to begin a charity called A Veil of Silence, dedicated to helping women escape violent relationships and educating authorities about the issue….helping “Young Hearts Run Free.”

March 24 – Sun Began To Set On Bee Gees Golden Days

It’s likely no one will duplicate the level of success The Beatles had for six or seven years in the ’60s and the universal acclaim they enjoyed then. But one group came fairly close for a couple of years in the ’70s. An example of that – 43 years ago today, the Bee Gees hit #1 in the U.S. again. “Tragedy” was the #1 Billboard single this day in 1979, which is about what you’d expect if you’d looked at the record charts at the tail end of that decade.

Although it sounds very much like the fare they delivered on the mega-selling Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, “Tragedy” was off their Spirits Having Flown album, the second biggest record of the year in the U.S. It followed up their slower “Too Much Heaven”, which also hit #1 and preceded “Love You Inside Out,” which also hit #1. In so doing, it gave them six-straight #1 singles, something only done once before by…you guessed it, The Beatles. “Tragedy” in all was their eighth chart-topper of the decade in the States, and in Canada (where it went to #1 as well as in the UK), their ninth. It went platinum as a single in both countries. Two decades later in Britain, a band called Steps would do a cover of it that would also hit #1 there.

Whether you like ’em or hate ’em (and here at this site, we actually like their disco sounds although we could have done without so many hundreds of less-talented imitators) you have to tip your cap to the Brothers Gibb for their ability to churn out the music the masses adored back then. With this song, the brothers (the trio in the Bee Gees plus brother Andy) held down the top spot on Billboard for 26 weeks between the beginning of 1978 and the end of March, 1979… 29 if you include songs they wrote for other artists like “If I Can’t Have You” by Yvonne Elliman.By way of comparison, the Beatles held down the #1 single spot for 23 weeks in a similar 15-month period between early-’64 and May ’65, when American Beatlemania was at its frenzied peak.  How prolific were the Bee Gees? Barry, Robin and Maurice wrote this song in one afternoon, after writing “Too Much Heaven” earlier the same day. In the evening, they capped it off with “Shadow Dancing” which young Andy took to the top.

The likeable song about yearning for love wasn’t a tragedy for the Bee Gees bank account, but changing tastes were. After the ’70s were done, tastes had changed. “Love You Inside Out” was their final #1 hit and they managed only one more top 10 hit ever again in the U.S.

February 10 – Hot Chocolate Were Winners At Least

A little hot chocolate to go with that apple, perhaps? While Rod Stewart was topping the chart this day in 1979 (as we saw in the previous post), another British act were doing very well here too – Hot Chocolate. Their dance song “Every 1’s A Winner” peaked at #6 in the U.S, their third top 10 single and second one to go gold, “You Sexy Thing” being the first (with a title that sounds like a Rod Stewart song, come to think of it.) “Every 1’s A Winner” was winning over Canada as well; it got to #5 in there.

While not a “one hit wonder”, Hot Chocolate weren’t really piping hot on this side of the Atlantic. However, at home, they were one of the top acts of the ’70s. Perhaps not as surprising when one considers they had a Beatles connection. They’d formed in 1968 and signed to Apple Records by 1970. Their first song recorded was a cover of John Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance” and their name had even been suggested by the Beatles secretary, Mavis Smith, although she dubbed them “Hot Chocolate Band.”

Their dance-funk sound fit the times well, and they managed to score a chart hit every year of the decade in the UK, something only Elvis and Diana Ross did as well. They outlived those two, streak-wise, having hits annually through 1984. By the time this song came out, they had signed to RAK Records at home and an MCA subsidiary, Infinity, here.

Singer Errol Brown wrote the lyrics after their producer Mickie Most suggested the title. Most had a way with hits; earlier he’d produced hits for the Animals, Herman’s Hermits and Lulu’s great “To Sir With Love.”  The song also featured guitarist Harvey Hinsley and keyboards of Larry Ferguson prominently.

Hot Chocolate had a resurgence in popularity in the ’90s due to their music being used in The Full Monty, and continue on to this day. Although Brown left the band in the ’80s and has since died, three original members carry on the name and funk.

February 10 – People Thought Rod’s Record Was Pretty Sexy

Blondes have more fun…especially if they’re rich and can change on a dime in order to fit the times. Or so we’d guess from Rod Stewart, and his biggest-selling solo single, his foray into disco, “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” It hit #1 in the U.S. on this day in 1979 and would stay there for four weeks, until being bumped off the top by Gloria Gaynor and the equally disco-riffic “I Will Survive”.

Do You Think I’m Sexy?” was the lead, and actually the only noteworthy, single off his ninth solo album, Blondes Have More Fun. Mind you, with a career that was already a decade-strong and a song so universally popular, one single may be all you need per album. Blondes Have More Fun was his second #1 album in the States, fifth in both Canada and Australia, and got to #3 in his own UK. At the time, many balked at the lightweight and dance-driven sound for the one-time hard rockin’ bluesman. Rolling Stone for example, suggested “if blondes have as much fun as Rod Stewart’s new record suggests they do, no wonder they’re exhausted when they stagger into the studio” and make an “album that’s actively disagreeable to listen to.” Time has treated it somewhat more kindly though; the same magazine more recently included “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” among their 500 greatest songs of all-time. Allmusic consider the album “one of his most enjoyable records, even if the pleasures are guilty,” and call the hit single “one of the best rock-disco fusions”. Indeed, disco was so prevalent in that end of the ’70s that established “rock” acts like Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney had put out disco-tinged records and only a couple of months later, even Kiss would jump on the bandwagon with “I Was Made For Loving You.”

Do You Think I’m Sexy?” was co-written by the session drummer on the album, Carmine Appice and Duane Higgins. And perhaps Brazilian Jonge Ben Jor. He settled with Rod out of court after suing for plagiarism, thinking the chorus sounded too much like his song “Taj Mahal”. Stewart says he may have been guilty of “subconscious plagiarism” as he’d visited Carnival in Rio De Janeiro the previous year and probably heard Ben Jor’s song there. Higgins says the hit is not to be taken seriously. “We rock and roll guys thought we were dead meat when (Saturday Night Fever) and the Bee Gees came out,” he remembers, so “Rod in his brilliance decided to do a spoof on disco.”

Spoof or not, people ate it up, as part of his album, as one of the earlier 12” singles and as a normal-for-the-times 7” single. It was the fourth biggest seller of 1979 and Rod the Mod wouldn’t have a song as popular again until he joined in with Bryan Adams and Sting on “All for Love” some 14 years later.

February 2 – Sisters Cut A Path To Stardom Overseas

Musical appeal doesn’t always cross the Atlantic. Through the years, we’ve seen a number of British acts which were huge at home but not well-known over here: T Rex, Slade, Robbie Williams, etc. Likewise, a lot of huge American acts had middling at best success in the UK: Doobie Brothers, John Mellencamp and so on. Today though, we look at an act which was the opposite – an American act who were huge in Britain but close to ignored at home. It was on this day in 2004 the Scissor Sisters came out. To the record aisles that is. Those who knew the band knew they’d largely “come out” years before. Their self-titled debut was released 18 years ago in Europe. Their native land would have to wait until July to get it (surprisingly on the by-then Universal Music-owned Motown label, unlike the Brit version on Polydor.)

The Scissor Sisters are a New York City band which formed about four years earlier, largely the efforts of male lead singer Jake Shears and female one Ana Matronic. The pair loved both disco and glam rock as well as hanging out in the Big Apple’s gay clubs. They formed a band (the straight member, drummer “Paddy Boom” notes “it’s not a gay band… there are gay members but it doesn’t matter. It’s about the music.”) and became popular on the dancefloors of the city. However, they astutely realized that there was probably little room for them in the mainstream of American radio dominated by lightweight pop acts like Britney Spears and Clay Aiken or rap artists like 50 Cent and Ludacris. So they concentrated on Europe, touring extensively and putting out the single “Comfortably Numb” – yes, that “Comfortably Numb”, as in a cover of the Pink Floyd standout – in Britain and parts of the continent long before America. As The Guardian newspaper there put it, “it takes a genius to cover ‘Comfortably Numb’ in the style of the Bee Gees and not reduce it to a kitsch joke” but they pulled it off. So anticipation was high for the debut in “jolly ole”. And fans there weren’t disappointed.

Scissor sisters contained the Pink Floyd cover, plus ten originals, largely rowdy dance numbers like “Tits on The Radio” and “Filthy Gorgeous”, although (to these ears) the real standouts were a couple of slower pieces, “Return to Oz” and “Mary.” The latter, despite the name being slang for a gay was straight-forwardly enough a love song Shears wrote about a close friend of his, a girl called Mary.

Brit fans ate it up. It quickly jumped to #1 on the album charts there and ended up being the biggest seller of the year, going 9X platinum (thereby ranking in the top 10 of this century so far in the UK.) All five singles hit the top 20, including “Filthy Gorgeous” getting to #5. It won the Brit Award for the Best International Album the following year. Bono called them “the best pop group in the world.”  The media there raved about it. Take for example, the NME which graded it 9 out of 10. They said of the Sisters, “at first glance it’s easy to sneer at the Scissor Sisters – five achingly hip New Yorkers” but when you listen, they look at music “from a different angle”, “just like Bowie or the Smiths” and create “universal sounding party anthems that could get indie fans, pop-heads and 70 year old nutcases hitting the floor in tandem.”

Scissor Sisters also did well in a number of European countries. Over here, not so much. It failed to get into the U.S. top 100 and to date hasn’t cleared the 300 000 sales mark, meaning it sits far below gold status. They did crack the American top 20 with the follow-up, Ta-dah!, which garnered them their first UK #1 hit single (which was the first to make the Canadian top 30 as well), “I Don’t Feel Like Dancing” a disco answer to Leo Sayer’s ’70s hit “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.” The upbeat tune saw them working with one of their idols, Elton John, who co-wrote it and performs on it. However, the rest of the album was seen as a bit of an over-produced yawn, and while it sparked some interest in North America, Brits bought it in reduced numbers than the huge debut. When their fourth album flopped everywhere, the band went on hiatus” in 2012, although they still say they continue and will return some day.

Even if they don’t, they can live happily with the memories of being on top for a brief while… and presumably, the revenue that generated! And even if it wasn’t one of the all-time greats, we can be happy they added a bit of flair and color to the discouragingly dull music scene of the early-21st Century.

January 31 – Casey Found The Sunshine Sound Of ’70s

Two of the dominant music forms to emerge from opposite ends of the pop music field in the 1970s were punk and disco. Today marks the birthday of one of punk’s leading figures (John Lydon, 66 today) and, as luck would have it, one of the kings of disco’s as well. Happy 71st birthday to Harry Wayne Casey, aka “KC” of KC & the Sunshine Band.

When you think of KC, two things likely pop into mind – disco, and Florida. Fittingly so. Casey was born in Hialeah and has spent his whole life in the metro Miami area. “I always loved music and was fortunate enough to grow up in a multi-ethnic area that exposed me to a lot of different cultures and music, from reggae to pop to Latin.”

His love of music shaped his career choices, with him working at a record store in his late-teens and then as a helper at Miami’s TK Records and Studio. The studio had hosted artists including Ray Charles and James Brown; Brown had briefly signed to the record label as well. After he met Richard Finch in the studio in 1973, the pair began writing music and quickly came up with “Rock Your Baby” which became a major disco hit for George McRae, another TK artist. Casey played keyboards on the single to boot.

the hit gave the record company to allow Harry Wayne to start recording his own material. “I experimented at trying to put all three types (the reggae, pop and Latin) together,” he says and the result was what he terms “Sunshine Music.” He and Finch put together a multi-racial, multi-instrumental group which of course became KC & the Sunshine Band. Although the first album, in 1974, did nothing for them, their second, self-titled hit the cultural zeitgeist and struck gold for them. The first two singles, “Get Down Tonight” and “That’s The Way I Like It” were both #1 hits in the States and Canada, and they’d “keep it coming” through the ’70s and 1980, with three more #1 singles at home, four in Canada. Their appeal was more limited in Europe however, where in Britain they’d have to wait til well past their hey-day (1983) to score their lone chart-topper in the retro-disco/new wave type single “Give It Up.

The change of decades meant a change of fates for Casey, and KC. In 1981, disco was falling very out of favor with the record-buying public, TK Records went bankrupt, Casey and Finch had a fight that resulted in the latter quitting the band and writing partnership. Worse still, he was in a head-on car crash which left him paralyzed for several months.

Amazingly, he worked his way back onto his feet, and re-learned how to play keyboards and re-formed the band. They’ve kept recording since, and with the exception of “Give it Up”, have found chart success scarce. However, they remain a popular touring band, known for upbeat, happy shows and periodically record new music, as in 2019 when they worked with Nile Rodgers and came up with another dancefloor hit, “Give Me Some More.”

December 30 – Mad Russian Led To Madly Popular Record

Today marks the fifth anniversary of singer Bobby Farrell’s death…and remarkably, the 105th anniversary of the death of the man Farrell famously sang about, Grigori Rasputin. Farrell was part of Boney M, and Rasputin…well, he was a story in himself. The Russian scoundrel was something of a very early sort of televangelist and may have altered the shape of World War I and Russia for decades…and inspired one of the ’70s more interesting dance hits. Which is why we look at Rasputin on this Sound Day.

Rasputin was born in what is now Siberia, the son of peasant farmers. Sometime around the turn of the century, he decided to go on a pilgrimage to a monastery. By this time he’d already married and had three kids. Some claim he’d had a religious ephiphany, being visited by the Virgin Mary. Others suggest it was a convenient way for him to hastily leave town after being accused of horse theft. Either way, he spent time with the monks and soon declared himself a holy man in the Russian Orthodox Church and began preaching. A short period of healthy living, swearing off booze and being vegetarian and devout soon gave way to a life of hedonism, which he proclaimed a route to God.

One thing that is clear is that Rasputin was a very charismatic man. No matter what he did or said, people seemed to flock to him and his alleged ability to heal the ill helped him gain followers. Soon he was befriended by the Tsar and his family, particularly the Tsar’s wife. He seemed to be able to make their sickly child well and soon became a honored, and trusted member of the Royal circle. So respected was he that the Tsar followed his advice on matters related to World War I, including going to the front himself (leaving Rasputin alone with the tsaress, as it were.) All the while, resentment towards the Tsar and his family was growing among the masses and Rasputin was seen as perhaps the worst of the lot, with his love of the Tsar and his womanizing with many of the ladies of the elite class. In 1914, a girl stabbed him in the stomach; Rasputin survived. Two years later a group of noblemen set out to kill him. they invited him to dinner, fed him poisoned food and drink… and hours later, he was still in good spirits, showing no ill effect. At which time one of the nobles shot him in the head, which likely finally killed him. If that didn’t, his being dumped in the icy river nearby certainly did. Months later the Tsar himself was dead and of course, Russia took a mighty swing to the left politically.

Fast forward to the 1970s and Boney M. Boney M. were a disco-quasi-reggae group put together by German singer/producer Frank Farian, who would go on to put Milli Vanilli together the following decade. He in fact produced the Milli Vanilli album and co-wrote many of their hits, like “Baby Don’t Forget My Number.” He put out the first Boney M. single entirely himself, but decided that there needed to be other people on stage for TV or concerts, so he brought in four singer/dancers from Caribbean countries to make the “group” Boney M. Live performances were often supplemented heavily by dubbed in, taped voices. Nevertheless, the group put out catchy, danceable tunes that really caught the ear of Europeans. In Germany, for instance, they had seven #1 singles (including “Rasputin”) and in Britain, three #1 albums. They were particularly well-known for their Christmas tunes, recording no less than six different Christmas albums, and having a platinum Christmas single through much of Europe, “Mary’s Boy Child”.

Although “Rivers of Babylon” was their biggest single overall worldwide, another single from their third album, 1978‘s Night Flight To Venus, dealt with the crazy-looking bearded Russian, putting his life and death to a dance beat. “Rasputin”, with a balalaika (a Russian three-stringed guitar) adding texture to the sound, was a #1 in Germany and Australia, hit #2 in the UK and #7 in Canada where it was their only significant hit. Surprisingly, that helped the album go 5X platinum in the Great White North, the only non-compilation of theirs to even make gold status there! The single itself also hit platinum level there. In the U.S. though, bigtime success eluded Boney M, then and now.

The band continued on, somewhat through the 1980s and at times since, with varying lineups. At times in the late-’80s, Farian actually had several different Boney M.s playing tours in different countries.

Ironically, the “lead singer” of the song, Bobby Farrell (quotation marks because some dispute whether he actually sang at all or merely lip-synched and was hired for his looks and dance moves, foreshadowing the Milli Vanilli fiasco of a decade or so later) died on Dec. 30, 2016 in St. Petersburg, Russia… 100 years to the day after Rasputin himself , in the same city!

November 24 – When The Queen Of Disco Met Queen Of Show Tunes

Disco was king, and Donna Summer was the undisputed queen of it in 1979. She paired up with another mega-selling female, Barbra Streisand, for the #1 hit on this day, “No More Tears (Enough is Enough.)” For Summer it was her third number one hit of the year, (Surprisingly, the Bee Gees also had three number ones that year, the first acts to do so in the U.S. since Elton John in ’75). She had in fact topped Billboard for a Bee Gees-like 13 weeks in the previous year and a week – almost one quarter of the entire time.

For both singers, it was the fourth number one hit of their careers and the song was released on albums by both singers – Streisand’s Wet and a greatest hits compilation for Summer. Summer’s version was remastered a little with added production from Harold Faltermeyer (“Axel F theme”). The tune wasn’t quite as disco as much of Summer’s hit fare and was a bit spryer than most of Barbra’s. It was written by Bruce Roberts and Paul Jabara. Besides co-writing “It’s Raining Men”, Jabara was already known for working with both the singers before. He’d worked on creating Summer’s song “Last Dance” as well as Streisand’s “Main Event.” The song of female empowerment got to #2 in Canada and #3 in the UK and was certified platinum in the U.S.

That alone might have been remarkable only because the paperwork involved would have been substantial. Since two star singers were on it, and both wanted it on their LPs, it also got released as a 7” and 12” single on both Casablanca (Summer’s label) and Columbia Records (Streisand’s). Collect all four! That was likely easier than getting the record companies to co-operate, or even the singers themselves. The pair never performed it together live although both played it in concert from time to time. They did get together to sing it in the studio, but Jabara recalls they weren’t bosom buddies. “The two were intimidated by each other,” he says and to compensate tried to one-up each other. “There’s Streisand, hands flaring, and Donna, throwing her head back…sparking each other.” In the ’70s, Summer was of course known for her racy lyrics and , if we believe the stories, singing-through-orgasms on her first biggie, “Love to Love You Baby.” She later became a born-again Christian and turned away from the sexually-charged persona long before she passed away from cancer in 2012. Her daughter Amanda is in the favorite band of Fixer Upper‘s Joanna and Chip Gaines – Johnnyswim. That duo star in the Gainses-produced Home on the Road.

Meanwhile, Streisand is still busy, putting out a new album in 2018 and in 1995 won an Emmy, making her one of the rare performers in the “EGOT” club… recipients of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award.

October 13 – 80s Preview Came Early

The ’80s came early this day in 1979. Which is to say two of the big men of music in the ’80s gave a little preview of what was ahead, hitting the top of different charts. In Canada, Robert Palmer hit #1 with “Bad Case of Loving You”, while in the bigger market to the south, the U.S., an even bigger star did the same – Michael Jackson with “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough.” Although both would go on to major success in the next decade, neither was an expected chart-topper at the time.

Palmer had been recording for much of the ’70s, putting out records that were well-reviewed but generally low to middling sellers. He would, of course go on to huge success in the mid and late-’80s with the help of MTV, with his Riptide album selling in the millions and winning him a Grammy. But his first real taste of success came in Canada, with Secrets (his fifth album, from which “Bad Case Of Loving You” came) getting to #4 and winning him his first platinum record anywhere. The song, written by American rockabilly artist Moon Martin caught the fancy of Canucks, bringing down E.L.O.’s “Don’t Bring Me Down” from the top spot. Elsewhere, it wasn’t as big. In the U.S. it hit #14, in his native UK just #61, although it did seem to gain popularity retroactively when he got to be better known with songs like “Simply Irresistible” and “Addicted To Love.” To help that along, he re-recorded it in the late-’80s for a Best Of album, adding a bit more drums and edge to it. The 1979 original did earn him a Grammy nomination for Best Male Rock Performance, the very first year it was awarded, but he lost out to Bob Dylan.

Jackson, on the other hand was far from unknown by 1979. In fact, he was already something close to a household name. But he wasn’t regarded as a big deal in music then; he’d been the cute, cherubic voice of the Jackson 5 at the decade’s start and briefly had a little success by himself but hadn’t really had a hit record since “Ben” which hit #1 almost exactly seven years before. His previous album, Forever Michael, was a total flop, missing the American top 100 and failing to produce anything radio found palatable. That prompted him to quit Motown and sign with CBS’ Epic division. It took awhile but with the help of super-producer Quincy Jones, the first result was his Off the Wall album, from which this song came. Surprising as it might seem now, it didn’t get to #1 (in the States it topped out at #3) but it sold very well, eventually hitting 20 million world-wide, and it put him back in the spotlight with this song.

Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” featured a couple of things which would become Michael trademarks when he was “the King of Pop” a few years later – his falsetto voice and beat tailor made for the dancefloor. In fact, many regard “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” as one of the last two or three disco songs to hit the top. The song was a dance hit, an R&B radio one and, most importantly a big hit on mainstream radio. A couple of people who perhaps didn’t like the song so much were Michael’s mother, who was “shocked” and thought the lyrics blatantly sexual, and perhaps keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. Well, Phillinganes doubtless liked the song, the problem was he said he co-wrote the melody with Jackson (which Quincy Jones agreed with), but he wasn’t given songwriting credit by and large. His case is bolstered by the fact that a few editions of the single actually did list him as a co-writer.

Among the other talented musicians on the track were bassist Louis Johnson of the Brothers Johnson, a young Sheila E. adding percussion years before she’d become famous working with Prince, and the Seawind Horns.

Although it was his first hit in years, and his first “grown up” one, it certainly wouldn’t be his last. He added 11 more #1 singles during the ’80s.

August 5 – Dancing, Err, Rolling Stones

Maybe you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but you can at least get them to put a new spin on the old ones. Or at least you could the Rolling Stones as they forged on well into their second decade. They hit #1 in the U.S. on this day in 1978 with “Miss You.”

It was the first single off their Some Girls album, the first to have Ronnie Wood onboard as a full-time member and guitarist. Despite Keith Richards’ deepening drug problems in that time period, it was seen as one of their most creative albums of the decade and a return to form after a few less-than-brilliant records.

Considering that by then they used Richards and Wood as guitarists and Mick Jagger played some guitar on the single as well, it wasn’t as much a blow-the-walls down rocker as one might have expected. The Stones were taking note of what was going on in the music world and didn’t want to get left behind. It was the height of the disco revolution and old-style rock and roll wasn’t in vogue. So the Stones set out to get with the times… but do so in their own style.

“’Miss You’ was heavily influenced by going out to the discos,” drummer Charlie Watts confirms. “you can hear it on the four-to-the floor and the Philadelphia-style drumming.” Keith Richards says it “was a damn good disco record.” To whit, the band took the song which is just under five minutes on the LP, under four on the single and put in a bit more dance beat and extended it to eight-and-a-half minutes in their first 12” single.

If you could dance to it, the song about the dude pining for his lost love and his buddies just wanting him to stop his moping didn’t exactly scream “Studio 54” like some other rockers crossover disco hits of that era (think Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy” or Kiss’s “I Was Made For Loving You.”) Part of that probably is owing to the fine, and prominent bluesy harmonica played by Sugar Blue, a New York bluesman Mick found busking in Paris! Ian McLagan, formerly of Faces joined in the fun adding some electric piano to the song Mick apparently wrote with a bit of help from Billy Preston when they were jamming in Toronto the year before. (Unfortunately for Preston, he wasn’t credited for writing while Keith Richards was, per the Stones’ norm.)

Miss You” spent a week on top in the States before being deposed by the Commodores, and also made #1 in Canada. It was their seventh U.S. #1 single, but only the second of the ’70s. It got to #3 in the homeland which wasn’t very much home to them at that point, the UK.

Beast of Burden” was the next single off Some Girls and was also a North American top 10 making the album the last of theirs to produce two major hit songs.