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Ike Turner is certainly one of the most dehumanized figures in rock history. Mention his name and the first association that comes to most anyone's mind is "abusive husband," not "soul star" or "rock & roll pioneer." According to legend, Turner was a tyrannical ogre who used physical violence and psychological intimidation to control his infinitely more talented wife Tina, while indulging his own appetites for cocaine and women at every turn. That's not entirely accurate, although by most accounts Turner did quite a bit to earn that reputation; he spent time in prison due to his drug problems, and his own refutations of Tina's allegations of abuse have been inconsistent at best over the years. Still, this view of Turner as villain does a disservice to his very real musical legacy as an instrumentalist and bandleader. As a pianist in the early '50s, Turner helped lay the groundwork for rock & roll; he was also a distinctive guitarist with a biting, nasty tone, and was one of the first to make the whammy bar an integral part of his sound. It's true that he was nowhere near the singer Tina was, and it's probably also true that she was his ticket to stardom; moreover, his songwriting, while sometimes inspired, often possessed a generic quality that made consistent chart appearances difficult. But as a bandleader, his disciplinarian approach -- when it wasn't manifesting itself in darker fashion, that is -- resulted in undeniably tight, well-drilled ensembles and some of the most exhilarating live shows the R&B world ever saw -- centered around Tina, yes, but spectacles nonetheless. If Turner isn't exactly the most defensible character around, in the end his musical strengths and weaknesses deserve the same objective appraisal as anyone.
Izear Luster Turner, Jr. was born November 5, 1931, in Clarksdale, MS, the heart of the segregated South. His father was beaten to death by a mob of angry whites, and growing up in a hostile environment unquestionably hardened Turner. He found his calling in music from an early age; he learned boogie-woogie piano firsthand from his inspiration, Pinetop Perkins, and as a teenager talked himself into a DJ slot on the local radio station, where he played everything from the jump blues of Louis Jordan to country & western. He formed his first band while still in high school, and by the late '40s had assembled an outfit dubbed the Kings of Rhythm. In 1951, the Kings of Rhythm traveled to Memphis to record at Sam Phillips' Sun studio. Their original tune "Rocket 88" (actual authorship is still disputed) was recorded with a lead vocal by sax player Jackie Brenston, and as a result was released under the name Jackie Brenston & His Delta Cats, not Ike Turner & His Kings of Rhythm. "Rocket 88" zoomed to the top of the R&B charts and is today regarded by many critics as being quite possibly the first true rock & roll record. Brenston subsequently departed for an unsuccessful solo career, while Turner and his band became session regulars around Memphis; they went on to back legendary bluesmen like Howlin' Wolf ("How Many More Years"), Elmore James, Otis Rush ("Double Trouble," "All Your Love"), Robert Nighthawk, Buddy Guy, and Sonny Boy Williamson II, plus an assortment of Sun artists. During the early '50s, Turner switched from piano to guitar, and also doubled as a talent scout for the Bihari Brothers' Los Angeles-based Modern Records, where he helped get early breaks for artists like Howlin'Wolf and B.B. King.
During the mid-'50s, Turner moved the Kings of Rhythm to East St. Louis, where they rose to the top of the local R&B circuit; Brenston rejoined in 1955, and the group also continued its session activity. Turner sometimes issued records under his own name on labels like Flair, RPM, and Federal, also using the aliases Icky Renrut and Lover Boy. Adopting a revue format for their live performances, the Kings of Rhythm worked with a revolving group of vocalists during this period. One was a teenaged singer originally from Tennessee named Anna Mae Bullock, who met Turner in 1956. She joined the revue, and moved into Turner's house after becoming pregnant by the band's sax player; soon, she and Turner began their own relationship and had a child of their own, marrying in 1958.
Renamed Tina, Turner's new (and latest) wife got her first chance to sing lead on a recording in late 1959, cutting "A Fool in Love" for the Sue label. Released the following year, the song was a runaway smash on the R&B charts, peaking at number two. Turner realized he'd discovered a potential breakout star, and reshaped the band into the Ike & Tina Turner Revue, with Tina now the centerpiece of the act. It took a little time for all involved to get their bearings, but in the meantime, the hits kept coming; "I Idolize You," "It's Gonna Work Out Fine," "Poor Fool," and "Tra La La La La" all hit the R&B Top Ten, a string that ran through 1962. (All except "It's Gonna Work Out Fine" were written by Turner.) 1962 also saw the release of Dance With Ike & Tina Turner & Their Kings of Rhythm Band, an all-instrumental album that showcased Turner's unpredictable guitar work at its best. As Ike & Tina became one of the hardest-working, most popular acts on the so-called chitlin circuit, they recorded for a number of independent labels over the next few years; however, since Turner's original material was increasingly standard-issue, their chart fortunes declined somewhat.
In 1969, Ike & Tina were invited to open for the Rolling Stones, and that changing times had made the Revue's rough, nasty brand of soul music more palatable to white rock audiences. Accordingly, Turner incorporated contemporary rock & roll covers into the Revue's repertoire, giving them a whole new lease on life. Versions of "Come Together," "I Want to Take You Higher," and "Proud Mary" revived Ike & Tina's chart fortunes -- especially "Proud Mary," which became their first Top Five pop single in 1971 and also won a Grammy. However, Turner's off-stage problems were taking their toll on the act; 1973's "Nutbush City Limits," a song written by Tina, would be their last major hit, and Tina walked out on him in the middle of a 1975 tour.
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Donna Summer's title as the "Queen of Disco" wasn't mere hype -- she was one of the very few disco performers to enjoy a measure of career longevity, and her consistent chart success was rivaled in the disco world only by the Bee Gees. Summer was certainly a talented vocalist, trained as a powerful gospel belter, but then again, so were many of her contemporaries. Of major importance in setting Summer apart were her songwriting abilities and her choice of talented collaborators in producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, which resulted in a steady supply of high-quality (and, often, high-concept) material. But what was more, few vocalists could match the sultry, unfettered eroticism Summer brought to many of her best recordings, which seemed to embody the spirit of the disco era perfectly. The total package made Summer the ultimate disco diva, one of the few whose star power was even bigger than the music.
Summer was born LaDonna Andre Gaines on December 31, 1948, and grew up in Boston's Mission Hill section. Part of a religious family, she first sang in her church's gospel choir, and as a teenager performed with a rock group called the Crow. After high school, she moved to New York to sing and act in stage productions, and soon landed a role in a German production of +Hair. She moved to Europe around 1968-1969, and spent a year in the German cast, after which she became part of the +Hair company in Vienna.
She joined the Viennese Folk Opera, and later returned to Germany, where she settled in Munich and met and married Helmut Sommer, adopting an Anglicized version of his last name. Summer performed in various stage musicals and worked as a studio vocalist in Munich, recording demos and background vocals. Her first solo recording was 1971's "Sally Go 'Round the Roses," but success would not come until 1974, when she met producers/songwriters Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte while working on a Three Dog Night record. The three teamed up for the single "The Hostage," which became a hit around Western Europe, and Summer released her first album, Lady of the Night, in Europe only. In 1975, the trio recorded "Love to Love You Baby," a disco-fied reimagining of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin's lush, heavy-breathing opus "Je T'aime...Moi Non Plus." Powered by Summer's graphic moans, "Love to Love You Baby" became a massive hit in Europe, and drew the attention of Casablanca Records, which put the track out in America. It climbed to number two on the singles charts, and became a dance-club sensation when Moroder remixed the track into a 17-minute, side-long epic on the LP of the same name.
In the wake of "Love to Love You Baby," albums (as opposed to just singles) became an important forum for Summer and her producers. The 1976 follow-up Love Trilogy contained another side-long suite in "Try Me (I Know We Can Make It Work)," and demonstrated Moroder and Bellotte's growing sophistication as arrangers with its lush, sweeping strings. Four Seasons of Love, released later in the year, was a concept album with one track dedicated to each season, and 1977's I Remember Yesterday featured a variety of genre exercises. Despite the album's title, it produced the most forward-looking single in Summer and Moroder's catalog, the monumental "I Feel Love." Eschewing the strings and typical disco excess, "I Feel Love" was the first major pop hit recorded with an entirely synthesized backing track; its lean, sleek arrangement and driving, hypnotic pulse laid the groundwork not only for countless Euro-dance imitators, but also for the techno revolution of the '80s and '90s. It became Summer's second Top Ten hit in the U.S., and she followed it with Once Upon a Time, another concept album, this one retelling the story of Cinderella for the disco era.
Summer's albums were selling well, bolstered by her popularity in the dance clubs, and she was poised to become a major pop hitmaker as well. Her acting turn in the 1978 disco-themed comedy Thank God It's Friday produced another hit in "Last Dance," which won her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal (as well as an Oscar for songwriter Paul Jabara). Doubtlessly benefiting from the added exposure, the double-LP set Live and More became Summer's first number one album later that year. It featured one side of new studio material, including a disco cover of the psychedelic pop epic "MacArthur Park" that became her first number one pop single early the next year. Her 1979 double-LP Bad Girls featured more of her songwriting contributions than ever, and went straight to number one, as did the lusty singles "Bad Girls" and the rock-oriented "Hot Stuff," which made Summer the first female artist ever to score three number one singles in the same calendar year. Her greatest-hits package On the Radio also topped the charts, the first time any artist had ever hit number one with three consecutive double LPs; the newly recorded title track became another hit, and Summer's duet with Barbra Streisand, "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)," became her fourth number one single.
At the peak of her success, Summer decided to leave Casablanca, and became the first artist signed to the new Geffen label. Sensing that the disco era was coming to a close, Summer attempted to modify her style to include more R&B and pop/rock on her first Geffen album, 1980's The Wanderer; the album and its title track were both hits. Not wanting to alienate her core audience, Summer returned to pure dance music on an attempted follow-up; however, Geffen deemed I'm a Rainbow not worthy of release (it was finally issued in 1996). Instead, Summer ended her collaboration with Moroder and Bellotte and teamed up with Quincy Jones for 1982's Donna Summer. "Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)" was a significant hit, but none of its follow-ups did very well. With producer Michael Omartian, Summer moved back into post-disco dance music and urban R&B with 1983's She Works Hard for the Money; its title track was a smash and became a feminist anthem of sorts. However, with her career momentum slowing, it also marked the end of Summer's prime. Despite winning a gospel Grammy for "Forgive Me," Summer's 1984 follow-up Cats Without Claws flopped, as did the 1987 comeback effort All Systems Go. Hiring the British production team of Stock, Aitken & Waterman, Summer scored her last major success with the 1989 Top Ten single "This Time I Know It's for Real," from the album Another Place & Time; around the same time, she began denouncing her earlier, "sinful" disco material. 1991's lackluster, urban-styled Mistaken Identity effectively killed her career momentum, and none of her new '90s albums produced that elusive hit.
However, she did make some noise on the dance charts with "Melody of Love," from the excellent 1994 retrospective Endless Summer, and reunited with Moroder for the 1997 non-LP single "Carry On," which won the inaugural Grammy for Best Dance Recording. Summer subsequently signed a deal with Sony, which primed her for re-establishment with the 1999 greatest-hits live album VH1 Presents: Live and More Encore!; it featured the new song "I Will Go With You (Con Te Partiro)," which had some success on the dance charts. The energetic and eclectic Crayons, her first proper studio album since Mistaken Identity, was released on the Burgundy label in 2008. ~ All Music Guide
Lady of the Night, Groovy, 1974.
Love to Love You Baby, Casablanca, 1975.
A Love Trilogy, Casablanca, 1976.
Four Seasons of Love, Casablanca, 1976.
I Remember Yesterday, Casablanca, 1977.
Once Upon a Time, Casablanca, 1977.
Bad Girls, Casablanca, 1979.
The Wanderer, Geffen, 1980.
I'm a Rainbow, Geffen, 1981.
Donna Summer, Geffen, 1982.
She Works Hard for the Money, Mercury, 1983.
Cats Without Claws, Geffen, 1984.
All Systems Go, Geffen, 1987.
Another Place and Time, Atlantic, 1989.
Mistaken Identity, Atlantic, 1991.
Christmas Spirit, Mercury, 1994.
Crayons, Burgundy, 2008.
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As a solo artist, Diana Ross is one of the most successful female singers of the rock era. If you factor in her work as the lead singer of the Supremes in the 1960s, she may be the most successful. With her friends Mary Wilson, Florence Ballard, and Barbara Martin, Ross formed the Primettes vocal quartet in 1959. In 1960, they were signed to local Motown Records, changing their name to the Supremes in 1961. Martin then left, and the group continued as a trio. Over the next eight years, the Supremes (renamed "Diana Ross and the Supremes" in 1967, when Cindy Birdsong replaced Ballard) scored 12 number one pop hits. After the last one, "Someday We'll Be Together" (October 1969), Ross launched a solo career.
Motown initially paired her with writer/producers Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson, who gave her four Top 40 pop hits, including the number one "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" (July 1970). Ross branched out into acting, starring in a film biography of Billie Holiday, Lady Sings the Blues (November 1972). The soundtrack went to number one, and Ross was nominated for an Academy Award.
She returned to record-making with the Top Ten album Touch Me in the Morning (June 1973) and its chart-topping title song. This was followed by a duet album with Marvin Gaye, Diana & Marvin (October 1973), that produced three chart hits. Ross acted in her second movie, Mahogany (October 1975), and it brought her another chart-topping single in the theme song, "Do You Know Where You're Going To." That and her next number one, the disco-oriented "Love Hangover" (March 1976), were featured on her second album to be titled simply Diana Ross (February 1976), which rose into the Top Ten.
Ross' third film role came in The Wiz (October 1978). The Boss (May 1979) was a gold-selling album, followed by the platinum-selling Diana (May 1980) (the second of her solo albums with that name, though the other, a 1971 TV soundtrack, had an exclamation mark). It featured the number one single "Upside Down" and the Top Ten hit "I'm Coming Out."
Ross scored a third Top Ten hit in 1980 singing the title theme from the movie It's My Turn. She then scored the biggest hit of her career with another movie theme, duetting with Lionel Richie on "Endless Love" (June 1981). It was her last big hit on Motown; after more than 20 years, she decamped for RCA. She was rewarded immediately with a million-selling album, titled after her remake of the old Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers hit, "Why Do Fools Fall in Love," which became her next Top Ten hit. The album also included the Top Ten hit "Mirror, Mirror."
Silk Electric (October 1982) was a gold-seller, featuring the Top Ten hit "Muscles," written and produced by Michael Jackson, and Swept Away (September 1984) was another successful album, containing the hit "Missing You," but Ross had trouble selling records in the second half of the 1980s. By 1989, she had returned to Motown, and by 1993 was turning more to pop standards, notably on the concert album Diana Ross Live: The Lady Sings...Jazz & Blues, Stolen Moments (April 1993).
Motown released a four-CD/cassette box set retrospective, Forever Diana, in October 1993, and the singer published her autobiography in 1994. Take Me Higher followed a year later, and in 1999 she returned with Every Day Is a New Day. 2000's Gift of Love was promoted by a concert tour featuring the Supremes, although neither Mary Wilson nor Cindy Birdsong appeared -- their roles were instead assumed by singers Lynda Laurence and Scherrie Payne, neither of whom had ever performed with Ross during the group's glory days. In 2006 Motown finally released Ross' lost album Blue, a collection of standards originally intended as the follow-up to Lady Sings the Blues. The album I Love You from 2007 featured new interpretations of familiar love songs. That same year the cable television network BET honored Ross with their Lifetime Achievement Award. ~ All Music Guide
For the Record...
Born Diane Ernestine Earle Ross on March 26, 1944, in Detroit, MI; daughter of Fred and Ernestine Ross; married Robert Ellis Silberstein, 1971 (divorced, 1976); married Arne Naess, Jr., 1985 (divorced, 2000); children: Rhonda, Suzanne, Tracee Joy, Chudney, Ross Arne, Evan.
Began singing as part of quartet with The Primettes, 1959; signed to Motown Records (group's name was changed to The Supremes), 1960; released first single with Supremes for Motown, 1961; left Supremes to pursue solo career, 1968; appeared on Broadway with one-woman show An Evening with Diana Ross, 1976; signed contract with RCA, 1980; returned to Motown, 1989; wrote the first volume of her autobiography Diana Ross: Secret of a Sparrow for Headline Books, 1993; with Roseanne Shelnutt co-authored the career scrapbook Diana Ross: Going Back for Universe Books, 2002; released the second volume of her autobiography Wrong Turns, Right Turns, and the Road Ahead for Reagan Books, 2004.
Awards: NAACP Image Award, Female Entertainer of the year, 1970; Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award, 1972; Golden Globe Award, Most Promising Newcomer, 1972; American Music Awards, Favorite Pop/Rock Album, 1974; Favorite Female Artist, Soul/R&B, and Favorite Single, Soul R&B, 1981; Favorite Female Artist, Pop/Rock, Favorite Single, Soul R&B, 1982; Favorite Female Artist, Soul/R&B, and Special Award of Merit, 1983; Inducted into Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame as member of Supremes, 1988; Guinness Book of World Records, Most Successful Female Singer of All Time, 1993; Soul Train Music Awards, Heritage Award for Career Achievement, 1995; inducted into Soul Train Hall of Fame, 1995; World Music Awards, Lifetime Achievement Award, 1996; National Academy of Popular Music, Songwriters Hall of Fame Hitmaker Award, 1998; BET Walk of Fame Award, 1999; National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), Heroes Award, 2000.
Addresses: Record company Motown Records, 825 Eighth Ave., 28th Fl., New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.motown.com. Agent/i>Rogers & Cowan PR, 1888 Century Park E., Ste. 500, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Website/i>Diana Ross Official Website: http://www.dianaross.com.
Albums (produced by Motown unless otherwise noted):
Diana Ross, 1970.
Everything is Everything, 1970.
Touch Me in the Morning, 1973.
Diana & Marvin (with Marvin Gaye), 1973.
Last Time I Saw Him, 1973.
Diana Ross, 1976.
Baby It's Me, 1977.
The Boss, 1979.
Why Do Fools Fall in Love, RCA, 1981.
Silk Electric, RCA, 1982.
Ross, RCA, 1983.
Swept Away, RCA, 1984.
Eaten Alive, RCA, 1985.
Red Hot Rhythm & Blues, RCA, 1987.
Workin' Overtime, 1989.
The Force Behind the Power, 1991.
A Very Special Season, EMI, 1994.
Take Me Higher, 1995.
Every Day Is a New Day, 1999.
I Love You, EMI/Manhattan, 2006.
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According to Billboard chart statistics, Chicago is second only to the Beach Boys as the most successful American rock band of all time, in terms of both albums and singles. Judged by album sales, as certified by the R.I.A.A., the band does not rank quite so high, but it is still among the Top Ten best-selling U.S. groups ever. If such statements of fact surprise, that's because Chicago has been singularly underrated since the beginning of its long career, both because of its musical ambitions (to the musicians, rock is only one of several styles of music to be used and blended, along with classical, jazz, R&B, and pop) and because of its refusal to emphasize celebrity over the music. The result has been that fundamentalist rock critics have consistently failed to appreciate its music and that its media profile has always been low. At the same time, however, Chicago has succeeded in the ways it intended to. From the beginning of its emergence as a national act, it has been able to fill arenas with satisfied fans. And beyond the impressive sales and chart statistics, its music has endured, played constantly on the radio and instantly familiar to tens of millions. When, in 2002, Chicago's biggest hits were assembled together on the two-disc set The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning and the album debuted in the Top 50, giving the band the distinction of having had chart albums in five consecutive decades, the music industry and some music journalists may have been startled. But the fans who had been supporting Chicago for over 30 years were not.
Chicago marked the confluence of two distinct, but intermingling musical strains in Chicago, IL, in the mid-'60s: an academic approach and one coming from the streets. Reed player Walter Parazaider (born March 14, 1945, in Chicago, IL), trumpeter Lee Loughnane (born October 21, 1946, in Chicago, IL), and trombonist James Pankow (born August 20, 1947, in St. Louis, MO) were all music students at DePaul University. But they moonlighted in the city's clubs, playing everything from R&B to Irish music, and there they encountered less formally educated but no less talented players like guitarist Terry Kath (born January 31, 1946, in Chicago, IL; died January 23, 1978, in Los Angeles, CA) and drummer Danny Seraphine (born August 28, 1948, in Chicago, IL). In the mid-'60s, most rock groups followed the instrumentation of the Beatles -- two guitars, bass, and drums -- and horn sections were heard only in R&B. But in the summer of 1966, the Beatles used horns on "Got to Get You into My Life" on their Revolver album and, as usual, pop music began to follow their lead. At the end of the year, the Buckinghams, a Chicago band guided by a friend of Parazaider's, James William Guercio, scored a national hit with the horn-filled "Kind of a Drag," which went on to hit number one in February 1967.
That was all the encouragement Parazaider and his friends needed. Parazaider called a meeting of the band-to-be at his apartment on February 15, 1967, inviting along a talented organist and singer he had run across, Robert Lamm (born October 13, 1944, in New York, NY [Brooklyn]). Lamm agreed to join and also said he could supply the missing bass sounds to the ensemble using the organ's foot pedals (a skill he had not actually acquired at the time).
Developing a repertoire of James Brown and Wilson Pickett material, the new band rehearsed in Parazaider's parents' basement before beginning to get gigs around town under the name the Big Thing. Soon, they were playing around the Midwest. By this time, Guercio had become a staff producer at Columbia Records, and he encouraged the band to begin developing original songs. Kath, and especially Lamm, took up the suggestion. (Soon, Pankow also became a major writer for the band.) Meanwhile, the sextet became a septet when Peter Cetera (born September 13, 1944, in Chicago, IL), singer and bassist for a rival Midwest band, the Exceptions, agreed to defect and join the Big Thing. This gave the group the unusual versatility of having three lead singers, the smooth baritone Lamm, the gruff baritone Kath, and Cetera, who was an elastic tenor. When Guercio came back to see the group in the late winter of 1968, he deemed them ready for the next step. In June 1968, he financed their move to Los Angeles.
Guercio exerted a powerful influence on the band as its manager and producer, which would become a problem over time. At first, the bandmembers were willing to live together in a two-bedroom house, practice all the time, and change the group's name to one of Guercio's choosing, Chicago Transit Authority. Guercio's growing power at Columbia Records enabled him to get the band signed there and to set in place the unusual image the band would have. He convinced the label to let this neophyte band release a double album as its debut (that is, when they agreed to a cut in their royalties), and he decided the group would be represented on the cover by a logo instead of a photograph.
Chicago Transit Authority, released in April 1969, debuted on the charts in May as the band began touring nationally. By July, the album had reached the Top 20, without benefit of a hit single. It had been taken up by the free-form FM rock stations and become an underground hit. It was certified gold by the end of the year and eventually went on to sell more than two million copies. (In September 1969, the band played the Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Festival, and somehow the promoter obtained the right to tape the show. That same low-fidelity tape has turned up in an endless series of albums ever since. Examples include: Anthology, Beat the Bootleggers: Live 1967, Beginnings, Beginnings Live, Chicago [Classic World], Chicago Live, Chicago Transit Authority: Live in Concert [Magnum], Chicago Transit Authority: Live in Concert [Onyx], Great Chicago in Concert, I'm a Man, In Concert [Digmode], In Concert [Pilz], Live! [Columbia River], Live [LaserLight], Live Chicago, Live in Concert, Live in Toronto, Live '69, Live 25 or 6 to 4, The Masters, Rock in Toronto, and Toronto Rock 'n' Roll Revival.) To Guercio's surprise, he was contacted by the real Chicago Transit Authority, which objected to the band's use of the name; he responded by shortening the name to simply "Chicago." When he and the group finished the second album (another double) for release at the start of 1970, it was called Chicago, though it has since become known as Chicago II.
Chicago II vaulted into the Top Ten in its second week on the Billboard chart, even before its first single, "Make Me Smile," hit the Hot 100. The single was an excerpt from a musical suite, and the band at first objected to the editing considered necessary to prepare it for AM radio play. But it went on to reach the Top Ten, as did its successor, "25 or 6 to 4." The album quickly went gold and eventually platinum. In the fall of 1970, Columbia Records released "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?," drawn from the group's first album, as its next single; it gave them their third consecutive Top Ten hit.
Chicago III, another double album, was ready for release at the start of 1971, and it just missed hitting number one while giving the band a third gold (and later platinum) LP. Its singles did not reach the Top Ten, however, and Columbia again reached back, releasing "Beginnings" (from the first album) backed with "Colour My World" (from the second) to give Chicago its fourth Top Ten single. Next up was a live album, the four-disc box set Chicago at Carnegie Hall, which, despite its size, crested in the Top Five and sold over a million copies. (The band itself preferred Live in Japan, an album recorded in February 1972 and initially released only in Japan.) Chicago V, a one-LP set, released in July 1972, spent nine weeks at number one on its way to selling over two million copies, spurred by its gold-selling Top Ten hit "Saturday in the Park." Chicago VI followed a year later and repeated the same success, launching the Top Ten singles "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" and "Just You 'n' Me."
The next Top Ten hit, "(I've Been) Searchin' So Long," was released in advance of Chicago VII in the late winter of 1974. The album was the band's third consecutive chart-topper and another million-seller. "Call on Me" became its second Top Ten single. Chicago VIII, which marked the promotion of sideman percussionist Laudir de Oliveira as a full-fledged bandmember, appeared in the spring of 1975, spawned the Top Ten hit "Old Days," and became the band's fourth consecutive number one LP. After the profit-taking Chicago IX: Chicago's Greatest Hits in the fall of 1975 came Chicago X, which missed hitting number one but eventually sold over two million copies, in part because of the inclusion of the Grammy-winning number one single "If You Leave Me Now." Chicago XI, released in the late summer of 1977, continued the seemingly endless string of success, reaching the Top Ten, selling a million copies, and generating the Top Five hit "Baby, What a Big Surprise."
But there was trouble beneath the surface. The band's big hits were starting to be solely ballads sung by Cetera, which frustrated the musicians' musical ambitions. They had failed to attract critical notice, and what press attention they were given often alluded to Guercio's Svengali-like control as manager and producer. Chicago determined to fire Guercio and demonstrate that they could succeed without him. Shortly afterward, they were struck by a crushing blow. Kath, a gun enthusiast, accidentally shot and killed himself on January 23, 1978. Though he, like most of the other members of the band, was not readily recognizable outside the group, he had actually had a large say in its direction, and his loss was incalculable. Nevertheless, the band closed ranks and went on.
Guitarist Donnie Dacus was chosen from auditions and joined the band in time for its 12th LP release, which was given a non-numerical title, Hot Streets, and which put prominent pictures of the bandmembers on the cover for the first time. The sound, as indicated by the first single, the Top 20 hit "Alive Again," was harder rock, and the band's core following responded, but Hot Streets was Chicago's first album since 1969 to miss the Top Ten. Chicago 13 then missed the Top 20. (At this point, Dacus left the band, and Chicago hired guitarist Chris Pinnick as a sideman, eventually upping him to full-fledged group-member status.) Released in 1980, Chicago XIV, the last album to feature de Oliveira, didn't go gold. By 1981, with the release of the 15th album, the poor-selling Greatest Hits, Vol. 2, the band parted ways with Columbia Records and began looking for a new approach.
They found it in writer/producer David Foster, who returned to an emphasis on the band's talent for power ballads as sung by Cetera. They also brought in one of Foster's favorite session musicians, Bill Champlin (born May 21, 1947, in Oakland, CA), as a full-fledged bandmember. Champlin, formerly the leader of the Sons of Champlin, was a multi-instrumentalist with a gruff voice that allowed him to sing the parts previously taken by Kath. With these additions, the band signed with Full Moon Records, an imprint of Warner Bros., and released Chicago 16 in the spring of 1982, prefaced by the single "Hard to Say I'm Sorry," which topped the charts, leading to a major comeback. The album returned Chicago to million-selling, Top Ten status. Chicago 17, released in the spring of 1984, was even more successful -- in fact, the biggest-selling album of the band's career, with platinum certifications for six million copies as of 1997. It spawned two Top Five hits, "Hard Habit to Break" and "You're the Inspiration."
The renewed success, however, changed the long-established group dynamics, thrusting Cetera out as a star. He left the band for a solo career in 1985. (Pinnick also left at about this time, and the band did not immediately bring in a new guitarist.) As Cetera's replacement, Chicago found Jason Scheff, the 23-year-old bass-playing son of famed bassist Jerry Scheff, a longtime sideman with Elvis Presley. Scheff boasted a tenor voice that allowed him to re-create Cetera's singing on many Chicago hits. The split with Cetera had a negative commercial impact, however. Despite boasting a Top Five hit single in "Will You Still Love Me?," 1986's Chicago 18 only went gold. The band recovered, however, with Chicago 19, released in the spring of 1988. Among its singles, "I Don't Want to Live Without Your Love" made the Top Five, "Look Away" topped the charts, and "You're Not Alone" made the Top Ten as the album went platinum. Another single, "What Kind of Man Would I Be?," originally found on the album, was included as part of the 1989 compilation Greatest Hits 1982-1989 (which counted as the 20th album) and became a Top Five hit, while the album sold five million copies by 1997.
At the turn of the decade, Chicago underwent two more personnel changes, with guitarist DaWayne Bailey joining and original drummer Danny Seraphine departing, to be replaced by Tris Imboden. Chicago Twenty 1, released at the start of 1991, sold disappointingly, and Warner rejected the band's next offering (though tracks from it did turn up on compilations). Chicago, however, maintained a loyal following that enabled them to tour successfully every summer. In 1995, Keith Howland replaced Bailey as Chicago's guitarist. The same year, the band regained rights to its Columbia Records catalog and established its own Chicago Records label to reissue the albums. They also signed to Giant Records, another Warner imprint, to release their 22nd album, Night & Day, a collection of big-band standards that made the Top 100. They were now able to combine hits from their Columbia and Warner years, resulting in the release of the gold-selling The Heart of Chicago 1967-1997 and its follow-up, The Heart of Chicago, Vol. 2 1967-1998 (their 23rd and 24th albums, respectively). In 1998, they released Chicago 25: The Christmas Album on Chicago Records, and they followed it in 1999 with Chicago XXVI: The Live Album. In 2002, Chicago began leasing its early albums to Rhino Records for deluxe repackagings, often with bonus tracks. And the success of The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning demonstrated that their music continued to appeal to fans. Feeding off the renewed interest, the band reappeared in 2006 with the new album Chicago XXX on Rhino. The rejected Warner album from 1993 was finally released by Rhino in 2008 as Stone of Sisyphus: XXXII.
Source: William Ruhlmann, All Music Guide
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First formed in the early '50s, the Isley Brothers enjoyed one of the longest, most influential, and most diverse careers in the pantheon of popular music -- over the course of nearly a half century of performing, the group's distinguished history spanned not only two generations of Isley siblings but also massive cultural shifts which heralded their music's transformation from gritty R&B to Motown soul to blistering funk. The first generation of Isley siblings was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, where they were encouraged to begin a singing career by their father, himself a professional vocalist, and their mother, a church pianist who provided musical accompaniment at their early performances. Initially a gospel quartet, the group was comprised of Ronald, Rudolph, O'Kelly, and Vernon Isley; after Vernon's 1955 death in a bicycling accident, tenor Ronald was tapped as the remaining trio's lead vocalist. In 1957, the brothers went to New York City to record a string of failed doo wop singles; while performing a spirited reading of the song "Lonely Teardrops" in Washington, D.C., two years later, they interjected the line "You know you make me want to shout," which inspired frenzied audience feedback. An RCA executive in the audience saw the concert, and when he signed the Isleys soon after, he instructed that their first single be constructed around their crowd-pleasing catch phrase; while the call-and-response classic "Shout" failed to reach the pop Top 40 on its initial release, it eventually became a frequently covered classic.
Still, success eluded the Isleys, and only after they left RCA in 1962 did they again have another hit, this time with their seminal cover of the Top Notes' "Twist and Shout." Like so many of the brothers' early R&B records, "Twist and Shout" earned greater commercial success when later rendered by a white group -- in this case, the Beatles; other acts who notched hits by closely following the Isleys' blueprint were the Yardbirds ("Respectable," also covered by the Outsiders), the Human Beinz ("Nobody but Me"), and Lulu ("Shout"). During a 1964 tour, they recruited a young guitarist named Jimmy James to play in their backing band; James -- who later shot to fame under his given name, Jimi Hendrix -- made his first recordings with the Isleys, including the single "Testify," issued on the brothers' own T-Neck label. They signed to the Motown subsidiary Tamla in 1965, where they joined forces with the famed Holland-Dozier-Holland writing and production team. Their first single, the shimmering "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)," was their finest moment yet, and barely missed the pop Top Ten.
"This Old Heart of Mine" was their only hit on Motown, however, and when the song hit number three in Britain in 1967, the Isleys relocated to England in order to sustain their flagging career; after years of writing their own material, they felt straitjacketed by the Motown assembly-line production formula, and by the time they returned stateside in 1969, they had exited Tamla to resuscitate the T-Bone label. Their next release, the muscular and funky "It's Your Thing," hit number two on the U.S. charts in 1969, and became their most successful record. That year, the Isleys also welcomed a number of new members as younger brothers Ernie and Marvin, brother-in-law Chris Jasper, and family friend Everett Collins became the trio's new backing unit. Spearheaded by Ernie's hard-edged guitar leads, the group began incorporating more and more rock material into its repertoire as the 1970s dawned, and scored hits with covers of Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With," Eric Burdon & War's "Spill the Wine," and Bob Dylan's "Lay Lady Lay."
In 1973, the Isleys scored a massive hit with their rock-funk fusion cover of their own earlier single "Who's That Lady," retitled "That Lady, Pt. 1"; the album 3 + 3 also proved highly successful, as did 1975's The Heat Is On, which spawned the smash "Fight the Power, Pt. 1." As the decade wore on, the group again altered its sound to fit into the booming disco market; while their success on pop radio ran dry, they frequently topped the R&B charts with singles like 1977's "The Pride," 1978's "Take Me to the Next Phase, Pt. 1," 1979's "I Wanna Be With You, Pt. 1," and 1980's "Don't Say Goodnight." While the Isleys' popularity continued into the 1980s, Ernie and Marvin, along with Chris Jasper, defected in 1984 to form their own group, Isley/Jasper/Isley; a year later, they topped the R&B charts with "Caravan of Love." On March 31, 1986, O'Kelly died of a heart attack; Rudolph soon left to join the ministry, but the group reunited in 1990. Although the individual members continued with solo work and side projects, the Isley Brothers forged on in one form or another throughout the decade; in 1996, now consisting of Ronald, Marvin, and Ernie, they released the album Mission to Please. Ronald and Ernie hooked up several years later for Eternal (2001), a brand-new selection of R&B cuts featuring collaborative efforts with Jill Scott, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Raphael Saadiq. On that particular release, Ronald also introduced the alter ego Mr. Biggs. Body Kiss (2003) and Baby Makin' Music (2006) followed.
Source: Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide; eNotes
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The Shirelles were the first major female vocal group of the rock era, defining the so-called girl group sound with their soft, sweet harmonies and yearning innocence. Their music was a blend of pop/rock and R&B -- especially doo wop and smooth uptown soul -- that appealed to listeners across the board, before Motown ever became a crossover phenomenon with white audiences. Even if the Shirelles were not technically the first of their kind, their success was unprecedented, paving the way for legions of imitators; their inviting musical blueprint had an enduring influence not just on their immediate followers, but on future generations of female pop singers, who often updated the style with a more modern sensibility. What was more, they provided some of the earliest hits for important Brill Building songwriters like Gerry Goffin & Carole King, Burt Bacharach & Hal David, and Van McCoy.
The Shirelles were originally formed in 1958 in Passaic, NJ, by four high school friends: Doris Coley (later Doris Kenner-Jackson), Addie "Micki" Harris, Shirley Owens (later Shirley Alston), and Beverly Lee. Christening themselves the Poquellos, the girls wrote a song called "I Met Him on a Sunday" and entered their school talent show with it. A school friend had them audition for her mother, Florence Greenberg, who ran a small record label; she was impressed enough to become the group's manager, and changed their name to the Shirelles by combining frequent lead singer Owens' first name with doo woppers the Chantels. The Shirelles' recording of "I Met Him on a Sunday" was licensed by Decca and climbed into the national Top 50 in 1958. Two more singles flopped, however, and Decca passed on further releases. Greenberg instead signed them to her new label, Scepter Records, and brought in producer Luther Dixon, whose imaginative, sometimes string-heavy arrangements would help shape the group's signature sound.
"Dedicated to the One I Love" (1959) and "Tonight's the Night" (1960) both failed to make much of an impact on the pop charts, although the latter was a Top 20 R&B hit. However, they broke big time with the Goffin-King composition "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"; released in late 1960, it went all the way to number one pop, making them the first all-female group of the rock era to accomplish that feat; it also peaked at number two R&B. Its success helped send a re-release of "Dedicated to the One I Love" into the Top Five on both the pop and R&B charts in 1961, and "Mama Said" did the same; a more R&B-flavored outing, "Big John," also went to number two that year. 1962 continued their run of success, most notably with "Soldier Boy," a Luther Dixon/Florence Greenberg tune that became their second pop number one; they also had a Top Ten pop and R&B hit with "Baby It's You." Unfortunately, Dixon subsequently left the label; the Shirelles managed to score one more pop/R&B Top Ten with 1963's "Foolish Little Girl," but found it difficult to maintain their previous level of success.
The group went on to record material for the film It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, headlined the first integrated concert show in Alabama, and helped a young Dionne Warwick get some of her first exposure (subbing for Owens and Coley when each took a leave of absence to get married). A money dispute with Scepter tied up their recording schedule for a while in 1964, and although it was eventually settled, the Shirelles were still bound to a label where their run was essentially over. Of course, this was also because of the British Invasion, whose bands were among the first to cover their songs; not only their hits, but lesser-known items like "Boys" (the Beatles) and "Sha La La" (a hit for Manfred Mann). The Shirelles scraped the lower reaches of the charts a few more times, making their last appearance, ironically, with 1967's "Last Minute Miracle."Doris Kenner left the group the following year to concentrate on raising her family, and the remaining Shirelles continued as a trio, cutting singles for Bell, United Artists, and RCA through 1971. The group continued to tour the oldies circuit, however, and appeared in the 1973 documentary Let the Good Times Roll. Shirley Alston left for a solo career in 1975, upon which point Doris Kenner-Jackson returned. Micki Harris died of a heart attack during a performance in Atlanta on June 10, 1982, upon which point the group went into what turned out to be a temporary retirement; the three remaining charter members recorded together for the last time on a 1983 Dionne Warwick record. Different Shirelles lineups toured the oldies circuit in the '90s, though Beverly Lee eventually secured the official trademark. They were officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. Doris Kenner-Jackson passed away after a bout with breast cancer in Sacramento on February 4, 2000.
For The Record
Members include Shirley Alston (born June 10, 1941); Addle "MBcId" Harris (born January 22, 1940; died of a heart attack, June 10, 1982, in Los Angeles); Doris Kenner (born August 2, 1941); and Beverly Lee (born August 3, 1941).
Group formed as the Poquellos for school talent shows, Passaic, NJ; "discovered" by Florence Greenberg and signed with her Tiara label, 1958; recorded "I Met Him on a Sunday"; signed with Greenberg's Scepter Records, 1959, and recorded "Dedicated to the One 1 Love" and "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" ; scored last chart entry, 1967; recorded and toured on nostalgia circuit; surviving members formed and led separate versions of the Shirelles.
Awards: Three gold records; awards from performance rights society Broadcast Music Inc., U.S.O., Vietnam Veterans of America, and U.S. Army; named best female group in Billboard and Cash Box for five consecutive years; citation in Congressional Record, 1983, in honor of the group's 25th anniversary.
Addresses: Management—Bevi Corp., P.O. Box 100, Clifton, NJ 07011-0100.
In 1968, Kenner left the group, and Alston, Lee, and Harris carried on as a trio, occasionally making new recordings and performing their old hits on the nostalgia circuit. Then, in the mid-1970s, Kenner returned and the group toured again as a quartet, until Harris's untimely death from a heart attack—suffered during a performance—in June of 1982. But even the loss of one of the original members did not bring an end to the Shirelles; by 1990 there were three separate groups touring under the name, each led by one of the surviving members.
Baby It's You, Scepter, 1962, reissued, Sundazed, 1993.
(With Curtis "King Curtis" Ousley) The Shirelles & King Curtis Give a Twist Party, Scepter, 1962, reissued, Sundazed, 1993.
Anthology, 1959-1965, Rhino, 1986.
Greatest Hits, Impact, 1987.
Lost and Found, Impact, 1987.
Greatest Hits, Special, 1991.
Dedicated to You, Pair, 1991.
Golden Classics, Collectables, 1992.
The Scepter Records Story, Capricorn, 1992.
Million Sellers, Laurie, 1993.
Foolish Little Girl, reissued, Sundazed, 1993.
Sing to Trumpets and Strings, Sundazed, 1993.
Frank, Island, 2003.
Much can be said about Amy Winehouse, one of the U.K.'s flagship vocalists during the 2000s.
The British press and tabloids seemed to focus on her rowdy behaviour and heavy consumption of alcohol, but fans and critics alike embraced her rugged charm, brash sense of humour, and distinctively soulful and jazzy vocals. Her platinum-selling breakthrough album, Frank (2003), elicited comparisons ranging from Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan to Macy Gray and Lauryn Hill.
Interestingly enough, despite her strong cockney accent and vernacular, one can often hear aspects of each of those singers' vocal repertoire in Winehouse's own voice. Nonetheless, her allure has been her songwriting - almost always deeply personal, but best known for its profanity and brutal candour.
Born to a taxi-driving father and pharmacist mother, Winehouse grew up in the Southgate area of Northern London. Her upbringing was surrounded by jazz. Many of the uncles on her mother's side were professional jazz musicians, and even her paternal grandmother was romantically involved with British jazz legend Ronnie Scott at one time.
While at home, she listened to and absorbed her parents' selection of greats: Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra among others. However, in her teens, she was drawn to the rebellious spirit of TLC, Salt-N-Pepa, and other American R&B and hip-hop acts of the time.
At the age of 16, after she had been expelled from London's Sylvia Young Theatre School, she caught her first break when pop singer Tyler James, a schoolmate and close friend, passed on her demo tape to his A&R, who was searching for a jazz vocalist. That opportunity led to her recording contract with Island Records.
By the end of 2003, when she was 20 years old, Island had released her debut album, Frank. With contributions from hip-hop producer/keyboardist Salaam Remi, Winehouse's amalgam of jazz, pop, soul, and hip-hop received rave reviews. The album was nominated for the 2004 Mercury Music Prize as well as two Brit awards, and its lead single, "Stronger Than Me," won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song.
Following Winehouse's debut, the accolades and inquiring interviews appeared concurrently in the press with her tempestuous public life. Several times she showed up to her club or TV performances too drunk to sing a whole set. In 2006, her management company finally suggested that she enter alcohol detox, but instead, she dumped the company and transcribed the ordeal into the U.K. Top Ten hit "Rehab," the lead single for her second, critically acclaimed album, Back to Black.
Containing evocative productions from Salaam Remi and British DJ/multi-instrumentalist Mark Ronson, the album somewhat abandoned jazz, delving into the sounds of '50s/'60s-era girl group harmonies, rock & roll, and soul.
The fanfare over the release was so great that it started to spill over onto U.S. shores; several rappers and DJs made their own remixes of various songs - not to mention covers by Prince and the Arctic Monkeys.
One month after Winehouse won Best Female Artist at the Brit Awards in February 2007, Universal released Back to Black in the U.S. The LP charted higher than any other American debut by a British female recording artist before it, and it remained in the Top Ten for several months, selling a million copies by the end of that summer.
Just as in the U.K., she became the talk of the town, landing on the covers of Rolling Stone and Spin magazines. Not long afterward, though, Winehouse cancelled her North American tour. Early reports revealed that she was entering rehab for alcohol and drug addiction, but her new management denied the claims, stating it was due to severe exhaustion.
Her erratic behaviour kept her and her new husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, constantly in the tabloids and on and off stages on both sides of the Atlantic, but in late 2007 American fans were finally given a chance to hear Winehouse's early work, with a slightly abbreviated (two songs removed and one added) version of Frank. ~Amy died of a drugs overdose in July 2011 Cyril Cordor, All Music Guide
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Singer Tammi Terrell joined forces with the immortal Marvin Gaye to create some of the greatest love songs ever to emerge from the Motown hit factory; sadly, their series of classic duets - "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing," and "You're All I Need to Get By" among them - came to an abrupt and tragic halt with her premature death.
Terrell was born Thomasina Montgomery in Philadelphia on April 29, 1945; after winning a number of local talent contests, by the age of 13 she was regularly opening club dates for acts including Gary “U.S.” Bonds and Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles.
In 1961, she was discovered by producer Luther Dixon and signed to Scepter. Credited as Tammy Montgomery, she made her debut with the single "If You See Bill," followed early the next year by "The Voice of Experience." After James Brown caught Terrell's live act, she was signed to his Try Me label, issuing "I Cried" in 1963 and also touring with his live revue.
"If I Would Marry You" appeared on Checker a year later, during which time she also studied pre-med at the University of Pennsylvania. While performing with Jerry Butler in Detroit in 1965, Terrell was spotted by Motown chief Berry Gordy, Jr., making her label debut with "I Can't Believe You Love Me."
When subsequent outings "Come On and See Me," "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)," and "Hold Me Oh My Darling" earned little notice, she was paired with Gaye, who previously recorded duets with Mary Wells and Kim Weston. His chemistry with Terrell was immediate and in 1967, they entered the pop Top 20 with the magnificent "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," the first in a series of lush, sensual hits authored by the husband-and-wife team of Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson.
"Your Precious Love" cracked the Top Five a few months later and in 1968, the twosome topped the R&B charts with both "Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing" and "You're All I Need to Get By." The success of these later hits was nevertheless tempered by Terrell's off-stage travails - after an extended period of severe migraine headaches, in 1967 she collapsed in Gaye's arms while in concert at Virginia's Hampton-Sydney College, and was diagnosed with a brain tumour.
Although the tumour forced Terrell to retire from performing live, she continued to record with Gaye even as her health deteriorated; however, as time went on, Valerie Simpson herself assumed un-credited vocal duties on a number of hits, including 1969's "Good Lovin' Ain't Easy to Come By" and "What You Gave Me." (For several other tracks, Gaye's vocals were added to pre-existing Terrell solo recordings.)
In all, Terrell endured eight operations, ultimately resulting in loss of memory and partial paralysis; she finally died in Philadelphia on March 16, 1970. Gaye was so devastated by her decline and eventual passing that he retired from the road for three years; her loss also contributed greatly to the spiritual turmoil which informed his 1971 masterpiece What's Going On.
At the time of her death, Tammi Terrell was just 24 years old.
The Early Show, 1967.
The Essential Collection, 2001.
Come On and See Me: The Complete Solo Collection, 2010.
~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide
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Dr. Feelgood is a British R&B band and is often seen as an influential group generally in the punk and rock scene of the 1970s. Hailing from Essex, the group is best known for its top ten hit, Milk and Alcohol. Its early singles, Back in the Night and Roxette are also widely recognised tunes by the band.
According to the band’s website, the founding members were inspired to pursue music after going to a Howlin’ Wolf gig in Ilford. Shortly after, a rag tag Dr. Feelgood was formed to play a series of gigs in Holland. On the return to the British Isles, the lineup which consisted of Wilko Johnson, John B. Sparks, John Martin and iconic frontman, Lee Brilleaux agreed they had something special and they decided to take things seriously.
At the time, the local London music scene was embracing no nonsense pub rock bands and Dr. Feelgood quickly gained a reputation for energetic performances. One journalist at the time described them as “Hiroshima in a pint glass” or something to that effect.
In 1972, they were approached to become the backing band for a reunion R&B concert that consisted of Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and Bo Diddly. Two years later, the band secured a deal with United Artists and released Down by the Jetty.
Its breakthrough record came in the form of a live album called Stupidity which skyrocketed to the number one spot on the UK charts. Johnson, the core song writer, decided to leave the band and was replaced by John Mayo. The last real chart success the band experienced was with Milk and Alcohol, a deep and simplistic rock tune.
In the 80s, there were numerous lineup changes and little chart entries but the band continued to be a sought-after live, touring act. In 1994, Brilleaux lost his battle with cancer at the age of 41.
The band wasn’t sure whether to carry on and decided that fans deserved the real Dr. Feelgood rather than the tribute acts that were coming out of the woodwork. They recruited Pete Gage but eventually settled on Robert Kane who did a stint as the front man for the The Animals.
Kane is still with the band and has racked up an impressive 1200+ live performances with the group including the annual concert that takes place in memory of Brilleaux .
A rockumentary type film called Oil City Confidential, which tells the tale of Dr. Feelgood’s early days premiered in October 2009. It received a standing ovation.
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Scary, Sporty, Posh, Baby, and Ginger – these are the nicknames of one of the biggest selling and globally successful acts to come out of England since The Beatles.
Melanie Brown, Emma Bunton, Melanie Chisholm, Geri Halliwell and Victoria Beckham (Adams) had explosive success with their first single release Wannabe in 1996. The song hit #1 in over 31 countries and launched a global phenomenon of pre-teens girls asserting "Girl Power" and pubescent (and probably not so pubescent) boys’ visions filled with Union Jack mini dresses.
On the back of the immense hype and publicity, the group had two further hits with Say You’ll Be There and 2 Become 1. The group’s management capitalised on the popularity and began brokering sponsorship deals and merchandising. A book, videos and eventually a rockumentary type movie called Spice World were released to feed the somewhat insatiable hunger of fans.
Their second album, Spiceworld produced their fifth and sixth #1s in the form of Spice Up Your Life and Too Much. But the media and public began to turn on the group claiming oversaturation. In 1998, Halliwell left the group.
The remaining members returned to the studio to commence work on a third album called Forever. The single Holler hit #1 in the UK however failed to make a ripple in the States. The girls decided to split “indefinitely” in 2001 in order to pursue solo careers.
Each girl had success as a solo artist or remained in the limelight in their own special way. Melanie Chisholm released several successful albums in Europe and North America. Melanie Brown also released moderately successful albums. Geri Halliwell had some big hits in the late 90s and leading into the 2000s. She also became a children’s book author, graced tabloid covers regularly and often did television appearances. Emma Bunton became a popular radio DJ with the Heart FM network. Victoria Beckham (Adams) became a model, WAG and Hollywood fashionista.
Six years later, rumours of a reunion were put to rest when the announcement went out that The Spice Girls would indeed reunite for a world tour. Tickets flew out of the box offices and they performed a total of 47 sell out shows despite cancelling some dates in Asia, Africa and South America. A greatest hits album was also released to coincide with the reunion tour.
Sources: Juanita Appleby; Mary Alice Adams
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