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 rise of Beatlemania, one of Sly & The Family Stones biggest hits and a “celebration” from Kool & The Gang.
Beatlemania was born in America with this week’s number one pop single from 1964. Much has been written about the Beatles, but it is unanimously agreed that “I Want To Hold Your Hand” is sealed forever in the minds of American record buyers as a landmark release. The song is in the second of an eventual seven weeks at the summit of the pop chart.
Their release of “She Loves You” predated “I Want To Hold Your Hand” in the U.K. and caused full-blown hysteria among British music fans. In the UK, this new single was backed with “This Boy” but in the US the song “I Saw Her Standing There” rocked the B-side.
The Capitol Records single release was moved up due to the upcoming live performance on The Ed Sullivan Show set for February 9th. At first, Capitol didn’t think this group would do anything in the US, as they gave the rights to their first album and two singles to Vee-Jay Records. They came to their senses with this week’s number one song… and music has never been the same.
The second of three eventual number one pop singles was on top this week in 1970 for Epic Records act Sly & The Family Stone. Their landmark Larry Graham-played, slap-bass funk song “Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” was at the summit this week, shared with the B-side co-listed as number one (a quirk in Billboard magazine’s methodology for a short while) “Everybody Is A Star.”
These two new recordings were included on Sly & The Family Stone’s Greatest Hits compilation, instead of being included on a new album. In fact, it would be over a year and a half before additional new music was released by the group, which was already succumbing to drug abuse and internal strife by Sylvester Stewart, three other real family members and associate musicians.
It’s the second and concluding week in the top spot on the pop chart in ’81 for Kool & The Gang and “Celebration.” The song had previously been number one on the R&B chart for the last two weeks in 1980 and the first four weeks in ’81. It was formerly a top Dance chart hit as well.
The Brazilian-born pianist and composer Eumir Deodato produced, arranged and mixed their album Celebrate as a premeditated way to become more pop oriented. Deodato had won a GRAMMY for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for his 1973 hit “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001).”
In 1979 they brought in a new lead singer, James “J.T.” Taylor. Kool & The Gang had been a fixture on the R&B landscape since their early days in Jersey City, NJ, and recorded on the De-Lite Records label, whose official name was De-Lite Recorded Sound Corporation. The label’s founder Gene Redd hired Kool & The Gang as one of his original signings. “Kool” was Robert Bell, despite the fact that his brother Ronald Bell was the musical leader of the group. Their early hits included the instrumental “Kool & The Gang,” “Jungle Boogie” and “Hollywood Swinging,” that featured a much heavier horn-based funk sound.
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