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This Week In History: Neil Diamond’s Monkee Business, “Love Rollercoaster” & Karma Karma Karma…

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Big-Jay-Sorensen Big Jay Sorensen
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The music history books are vast and full of interesting bits of knowledge. “Big” Jay Sorensen gives you a recap of the biggest and most interesting music news from the week; something from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.

For this week in history Big Jay schools you on the relationship between Neil Diamond and the Monkees, the Ohio Players and Culture Club’s success on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

The 1960s

The Monkees "I'm a Believer"

The Monkees “I’m a Believer”

This song was the final chart-topper in ’66 and for another consecutive six weeks at the start of 1967. The Neil Diamond composition “I’m A Believer” was the second single to top the pop chart for the Monkees, released on Colgems Records.

The chronicle of the Monkees is well known, including their pains to perform instrumentally on their releases. That didn’t come to pass until after “I’m A Believer,” taken from their second album More Of The Monkees. Their first LP, The Monkees was still the top album in the nation this week in ’67, but their latest album would be on top next week; remaining at the summit of the LP chart for 18 weeks.

Diamond had suggested “I’m A Believer” to the Connecticut group the Fifth Estate as a follow up to their novelty hit “Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead.” But unfortunately for them, it remained an album track for that one-hit wonder group.

The 1970s

The Ohio Players "Love Rollercoaster"

The Ohio Players “Love Rollercoaster”

This R&B/Funk group was as well identified for their racy album covers as they were for their music. But the group’s second number one pop hit was smokin’ hot all by itself.

“Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players on Mercury Records was the pop chart-topper for one week this week in ’76. Their earlier pop number one song was “Fire.” Their album Honey, featured snap-shots of Playboy Bunny Ester Cordet uncovered on the inside sleeve. The front cover of the LP was provoking as well, with her holding a jar of honey while eating it from a giant spoon. There was an urban legend attached to this song, with numerous fans believing the sound of someone being murdered took place during an instrumental break. It sounds like a woman’s voice, but in reality it was a guitar sound according to the group.

The LP Honey had been number one in the fall of ’75, but “Love Rollercoaster” boosted it to number two on the pop album chart as well. Several group associates have died since their halcyon days, including the departure on January 26th of one of their lead singers and guitarist Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner.

The 1980s

Culture Club "Karma Chameleon"

Culture Club “Karma Chameleon”

This weeks US pop charting single in 1984 had already been a number one record in the UK several months prior in 1983. “Karma Chameleon” by Culture Club (released in the US on Virgin Records) was their only number one single in America. The song was an international hit, selling more than five million copies overall.

“Karma Chameleon” was taken from the album Colour By Numbers which featured other hit singles “Miss Me Blind,” “Church Of The Poisoned Mind,” and “It’s A Miracle.” Another single from the album, “Victims,” was a hit in other countries, but not in America.

The group won a GRAMMY Award for Best New Artist of 1984. “Karma Chameleon” also won a Brit Award for Best British Single that year. Band member Boy George got most of the attention due to his androgynous style of dressing. He was quoted as saying, “The aim is to be creatively fluid to make everything we do a little different. We want to be a bridge between white rock and black soul.”


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