Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Top 100 Adult Contemporary Artists of the 1980's, #60 through #51

We continue now with the next 10 artists in our Adult Contemporary special:

At #60, an artist which debuted in the 80's:

#60.  Breathe

This group was originally known as Catch 22. In 1984, singer David Glasper, guitarist Marcust Lillington, Ian "Spike" Spice on drums and bassist Michael Delahunty began working on demos that led to a contract with A&M Records. 
In 1987, Breathe released the album All That Jazz.  The group enjoyed huge success on the AC chart with "Hands To Heaven" (#2), "How Can I Fall?" (#1) and "Don't Tell Me Lies" (#5).  Although they scored three more hits in the genre, the group split up after their second album in 1989.

There's few formats that wouldn't do very well with the artist at #59:

#59.    Journey 

The original members of Journey began in San Francisco in 1973.  Santana alums Neal Schon and Gregg Rolie were part of that original lineup.  Bassist Ross Vallory and drummer Aynsley Dunbar completed the group, but it wasn't until the group hired Steve Perry as lead singer in 1977 that they took off.  
In fact, when Journey added former Babys keyboardist Jonathan Cain in 1980, they arguably became the most talented group in the world.  Immediately after Cain came on board, Journey released their eighth and biggest-selling studio album, Escape.  The album has now gone Platinum nine times, and produced the hits "Who's Cryin' Now", "Don't Stop Believin'", "Still They Ride" and "Open Arms".  
Frontiers in 1983 continued Journey's status as one of the top groups with six million copies sold.  The group had minor AC hits with 
"Faithfully" and "Send Her My Love".  They sold out large venues wherever they went.  Journey drew 80,000 at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; scenes from that concert appear in the video documentary, Frontiers and Beyond.
The members took time off to pursue solo projects, but the band did release "Ask the Lonely" on the "Two of a Kind" Soundtrack in 1983 and "Only the Young" on the "Vision Quest" Soundtrack in 1985.  Journey released Raised on Radio in 1986 that sold two million copies and yieled the #7 AC hit "I'll Be Alright Without You".  However, Perry wasn't actively involved, and the band went their separate ways following the release of the album.

At #58, an artist who has come a long ways since his rock & roll days.

#58.    Michael Bolton 

Bolton began his career in hard rock and heavy metal, once opening for Ozzy Osbourne.  He became famous after a stylistic change in the 1980's towards Adult Contemporary music.  Michael got his first break when his song, "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" reached #1 on the AC chart for Laura Branigan.  
Bolton scored his first big hit on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1987 with "That's What Love Is All About", which hit #3.  He also had minor hits with a remake of the Otis Redding classic, "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" and "Walk Away".  He also landed the #3 AC hit "Soul Provider", the title track from his 1989 album, and his own version of "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" went to #1.
The seeds planted in the 80's would make Bolton one of the world's top stars in the 1990's, with other remakes of soul and Motown classics and albums such as Time, Love & Tenderness in 1991.
Eight of Bolton's albums have reached the Top 10.  Bolton has performed with artists such as Celine Dion, Ray Charles, B.B. King, Percy Sledge, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jose Carreras and Lucia Aliberti.

The next artist finally saw his career take off in the 80's in the way that he and music critics had hoped:

#57.    Bruce Springsteen 

After seeing Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show at age seven, Springsteen knew what he wanted to do.  In 1965, he became the lead guitarist and eventually the lead singer of the Castiles, who performed at several places including Cafe Wha? in Greenwich Village, New York.
He had been paraded as "the next big superstar", and Springsteen finally landed a hit with "Born to Run" in 1975, though it would be nine years later, that he could realistically lay claim to superstar status.  Bruce landed his first Top 10 song with "Hungry Heart", which actually is nowhere near the level of "Born to Run", which wasn't Top 10.
Springsteen did an extensive tour in 1980 and 1981 to promote the double album The River, then followed that up with the acoustic album Nebraska.  But Springsteen's main work was Born in the U.S.A. in 1984, which sold 15 million copies in the United States and spawned a wildly successful tour.  "I'm on Fire" and the #1 "My Hometown" were the only AC hits for Bruce on the album.  Bruce sang on the fundraising song "We Are the World" in 1985 to raise money for victims of poverty in Africa.
Bruce hit #5 with "Brilliant Disguise" and #3 with "One Step Up", and also had the minor AC hit "Tunnel of Love".

Springsteen has sold more than 65 million albums in the U.S. and has won 21 Grammys, two Golden Globes and an Academy Award for his work.

The next featured artist from Canada was a hard-working singer-songwriter waiting for his big break:

#56.    Dan Hill 

Hill left high school in Toronto, Ontario, Canada at the age of 17 to work as a songwriter for RCA Records.  He achieved his first success with the ballad "Sometimes When We Touch" in 1977.  
In 1982, Hill wrote "It's a Long Road" for the great movie First Blood.  Dan joined many Canadian performers on the benefit single "Tears Are Not Enough".  He continued to chart regularly in his native Canada, but it would be several years before he was successful again in the U.S.
In 1987, Hill joined Vonda Shepard for "Can't We Try" and followed that up with "Never Thought (That I Could Love)".  Both were #2 smashes on the AC chart.  Dan hit #8 with "Carmelia" and #3 with "Unborn Heart", giving him four Top 10 Adult Contemporary hits in the decade.  

We've heard from 45 artists so far, and up next is a popular superstar who also came into his own in the 80's:

#55.    Kenny Loggins 

Loggins got his break as a $100-a-week staff songwriter and wrote four songs on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's 1970 album Uncle Charlie and His Dog Teddy, including "House at Pooh Corner".

The brilliant Kenny Loggins  was a little-known singer/songwriter when he was introduced to Jim Messina in 1970.  Messina arranged for Loggins to sign a six-album contract with Columbia Records and helped in terms of songwriting, arrangement, guitar and vocals so that an "accidental duo" was born.
But once Loggins had his start, there was no looking back.  He was in major demand from movie producers to record music, and became known for it in the 80's.  Kenny began with "I'm Alright" from Caddyshack in 1980, followed by "Footloose" and "I'm Free" from Footloose, "Meet Me Halfway" from Over the Top and "Danger Zone" in Top Gun.  

He scored another big AC hit with "Heart to Heart".  In 1985, Loggins joined the all-star cast of U.S.A. for Africa on "We Are the World".  
Kenny recorded introspective, deeply personal albums in the decade, including Vox Humana in 1985 and Back to Avalon in 1988.  Vox Humana included Kenny's sensational vocal performance on "Forever", which reached #5.  Vice President Al Gore called Kenny's "Conviction of the Heart" "the unofficial anthem of the environmental movement".

Twelve of Loggins' album have gone Platinum and Kenny has enjoyed hit songs in four consecutive decades.  

The next artist in the special has faced the difficult question of "How do follow up a legend for a father?"  She has done quite well:

#54.    Natalie Cole 

The daughter of legend Nat King Cole, Natalie began singing in small clubs after graduation.  She made her own name beginning in the 70's with the album Inseparable.  Although she won Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards, Cole went through a long dry spell and didn't begin to achieve her potential until spending six months in a rehab facility for drug addiction.
Natalie began the decade with the album Don't Look Back in 1981, and had a huge hit with "Someone That I Used to Love".  After her rehab in 1983, Cole signed with Modern Records and the album Dangerous began to reverse the negative trend she had been experiencing.  "A Little Bit of Heaven" was a minor hit for Natalie.    
In 1987, Cole switched to EMI Records and her Everlasting album brought her back to the top, selling over a million copies.  It was Cole's first Platinum success in 10 years and featured the #2 AC hit "I Live for Your Love". 

 In 1989, Natalie released the album Good to Be Back, which included the #1 "Miss You Like Crazy" and the minor hit "I Do".

The #53 artist received his big break when talented Roberta Flack came looking for a new singing partner:

#53.    Peabo Bryson 

Bryson went to several concerts at an early age, developing his love of music from seeing artists such as Sam Cooke, Little Richard and Billie Holiday.  Bryson made his professional debut at the age of 14 signing for a local group.  When Peabo recorded at the studios of Bang Records in Atlanta, Georgia, the label was not impressed with his band, but general manager Eddie Biscoe did like Bryson.  Biscoe signed Peabo to a contract as a writer, producer and arranger.

Bryson teamed up with Roberta Flack for two huge AC hits--"Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" and "You're Looking Like Love to Me".

After several albums, Peabo scored big with "If Ever You're in My Arms Again".  The song became Peabo's first #1 on the AC chart and it remained there for four weeks.  In 1985, he appeared on the television soap opera One Life to Live to sing a lyrical version of its theme song.  Bryson's vocals were added to the theme and his voice was heard daily until 1992.  Bryson scored another Top 10 in the genre with Regina Belle on the song "Without You" in 1988.  

Bryson has sung duets with Celine Dion, Natalie Cole, Melissa Manchester, Minnie Riperton, Deborah Gibson, Regina Belle and Sandi Patti.

It's all in the family for our #52 artist:

#52.    DeBarge 

Sister Bunny and brothers Mark, Randy, El and James formed groups in the mid-70's.  They eventually became DeBarge and sent a demo tape to Motown CEO and founder Berry Gordy, who signed them.  
In 1982, the group's second album, All This Love paved the way for success, led by the title track, which reached #1 on the AC chart, and the minor hit, "Time Will Reveal".  The follow-up, In a Special Way, reached Gold status in the United States.  Following that success, Luther Vandross handpicked DeBarge to open for him on a national tour. 
Sparked by the success of the tour, DeBarge recorded the Diane Warren song "Rhythm of the Night" for Motown's movie, Berry Gordy's The Last Dragon.  The song was also the title for the group's 1985 album, and it became their biggest career success, selling over a million copies.  "Rhythm of the Night" became the second #1 from the group, which scored a third with "Who's Holding Donna Now" in 1985.  
Bunny and El were offered solo contracts by Motown, which dropped the rest of the DeBarges from its lineup.  El went on to a fairly successful solo career.

The next artist followed that familiar path of going from lead singer to solo star:

#51.    Jeffrey Osbourne 

Jeffrey is the youngest of 12 children of what is indeed a musical family. His father, Clarence "Legs" Osborne, was a trumpeter who played with Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Lionel Hampton. Jeffrey began his career in 1970 with Love Men Ltd., later known as L.T.D. 
Osborne released his self-titled debut album in 1982, which yielded the Top 10 AC hit "On the Wings of Love".  His sophomore release,Stay with Me Tonight, reached Platinum status.  In 1985, Jeffrey wrote the lyrics to "All at Once" for Whitney Houston and also sang on the U.S.A. for Africa song, "We Are the World".  Osborne sang the vocals for the theme song of the television soap opera, Loving, from 1992-1995.  
Osborne released two more gold albums, Don't Stop and Emotional.  The former featured his second Top 10 on the AC chart, "We're Going All the Way", while the latter included the #2 smash "You Should Be Mine".  In 1987, Jeffrey joined Dionne Warwick for the #1 AC hit "Love Power".  
In his career, Osborne racked up five Gold and five Platinum albums.

Join us tomorrow on Inside the Rock Era for the next installment of 10 artists.

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