Saturday, October 18, 2014

This Date in Rock Music History: October 19

1955:  Elvis Presley and Pat Boone were in concert in Cleveland, Ohio.
1958:  Brenda Lee recorded "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree".
1959:  "Mack The Knife" spent a third week at #1 for Bobby Darin and it wasn't close to done.  Paul Anka would have to settle for #2 with "Put Your Head On My Shoulder".  The Fleetwood had song #3--"Mr. Blue" while Sandy Nelson's great instrumental "Teen Beat" took #4.  The rest of the Top 10:  The Everly Brothers and "('Til) I Kissed You", Santo & Johnny with another of The Top 100 Instrumentals of the Rock Era*--"Sleep Walk", Andy Williams and "Lonely Street" at #7, the Coasters with "Poison Ivy", Frankie Avalon was back with "Just Ask Your Heart" and the Browns with their former #1 "The Three Bells".
1963:  The Beatles performed at the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton, England.
1964:  Bobby Vinton released the single "Mr. Lonely".

1966:  The Yardbirds, with co-lead guitarists Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck, arrived in New York City for their first American tour.  Guitarist Jeff Beck, however, left the band later on the tour to form the Jeff Beck Group. 
1967:  Jose Feliciano recorded his version of "Light My Fire".
1967:  The Beatles finished vocal and guitar parts for "Hello Goodbye" at Abbey Road Studios in London.

1967:  Smokey Robinson & the Miracles released the single "I Second That Emotion" on Tamla Records.
1967:  The Soundtrack to "The Sound of Music" was the #1 album in the U.K.
1968:  Eighteen-year-old Peter Frampton played guitar with the Small Faces at a concert in London.
1968:  The Vogues reached #1 on the Easy Listening chart with "My Special Angel".

1970:  Chicago released the single "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?".
1973:  Art Garfunkel owned the top Easy Listening song for the third week with "All I Know".
1974:  The Eagles performed at the Littlejohn Coliseum in Clemson, South Carolina for the On the Border tour.
1974:  B.T. Express hit #1 on the R&B chart with "Do It ('Til You're Satisfied)".

1974:  The Three Degrees were hotter than that, moving from 72 to 40 with "When Will I See You Again".

1974:  Billy Preston took over at #1 with "Nothing From Nothing".  Dionne Warwick & the Spinners were close with "Then Came You" and Stevie Wonder's powerful protest song "You Haven't Done Nothin'" was third.  The former #1 from Olivia Newton-John ("I Honestly Love You") was #4 with Carole King from Stanley, Idaho moving from 15-5 with "Jazzman".  The rest of the Top 10:  "The Bitch Is Back" from Elton John, although most stations placed it at #1, Blue Swede with their second hit "Never My Love", Bad Company's "Can't Get Enough" was #8, Tony Orlando & Dawn had "Steppin' Out" and the Osmonds moved into the Top 10 with "Love Me For A Reason".

1979:  Styx released the album Cornerstone.

1979:  Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers released their breakthrough album Damn the Torpedoes.
1979:  After a highly successful tour of North America, ABBA began the European leg of the tour at the Scandinavian in Gothenburg, Sweden.
1980:  AC/DC began their first tour since the death of lead singer Bon Scott at Colston Hall in Bristol, England.

1981:  Lindsey Buckingham released his solo single "Trouble".
1981:  The Clash performed at the Lyceum Ballroom in London.

1985:  A talented new singer from Florida and her band debuted on the chart for the first time with their first single "Conga".  Gloria Estefan & the Miami Sound Machine had their first hit on this date.
1985:  A-Ha had the #1 song with "Take On Me".
1987:  A new album was out and people were starting to figure out that it was pretty good.  On this date, George Michael released the title track to Faith.
1989:  Alan Murphy, guitarist of Level 42 who also worked with Mike + the Mechanics, Go West and Kate Bush, died from pneumonia due to AIDS at age 35.
1991:  "Romantic" by Karyn White topped the R&B chart.

1991:  Cathy Dennis scaled the Adult Contemporary chart to #1 with "Too Many Walls".

        Karyn White had a big hit...

1991:  Mariah Carey spent a second week at #1 with "Emotions" with competition coming from "Do Anything" by Natural Selection.  Karyn White's "Romantic" was third followed by "Hole Hearted" from Extreme and "Something To Talk About" by Bonnie Raitt.  The rest of the Top 10:  Marky Mark & the Funky Bunch with "Good Vibrations", "I Adore Mi Amor" from Color Me Badd, Aaron Neville moved up to #8 with "Everybody Plays The Fool", Bryan Adams collected his seventh Top 10 song--"Can't Stop This Thing We Started" and Martika entered the list with "Love...Thy Will Be Done".

1993:  Mariah Carey released the single "Hero" on Columbia Records
1993:  Pearl Jam released the great album Vs.
1996:  Boyzone's remake of the great Bee Gees song "Words" was #1 in the U.K.
1996:  Simply Red reached #1 on the U.K. album chart with their Greatest Hits package.

                                        No Mercy in the Top 10...

1996:  "Macarena" by Los Del Rio was #1 for the 12th week, four off the Rock Era record set the year before by Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men ("One Sweet Day").  Donna Lewis spent a record ninth week at #2 with "I Love You Always Forever", probably a #1 song in almost any other time.  Celine Dion had her lucky 13th hit with "It's All Coming Back To Me Now", BLACKstreet with Dr. Dre moved from 48 to 4 with "No Diggity" and No Mercy had their great song "Where Do You Go" at #5.  The rest of the Top 10:  "Twisted" by Keith Sweat, "Change The World" from Eric Clapton, the Quad City DJ's slipped with "C'Mon N' Ride It (The Train)", Az Yet and "Last Night" and Toni Braxton's great double sided hit "You're Makin' Me High"/"Let It Flow".

1997:  Glen Buxton, guitarist for Alice Cooper and co-writer of "School's Out", died of pneumonia at age 49.  (Note:  several websites state that Glen's death was October 18.  According to the book 'The Tombstone Tourist:  Musicians' by Scott Staton, 'The Arizona Republic' newspaper, and the North Central Iowa Genealogical Society, Buxton caught pneumonia on October 18, and died the next morning at North Central Iowa Mercy Medical Center.  Some websites report his place of death as Clarion--Buxton lived in Clarion at the time, but North Central Iowa Mercy Medical Center is in Mason City.)

1998:  Famed producer Sir George Martin, known as "The Fifth Beatle", retired from the music business.  Martin produced every Beatles record from "Love Me Do" through Abbey Road, with the exception of post-production on the Let It Be album, and also produced artists including Elton John, America, and Jeff Beck.
2003:  The Sugababes took over at #1 in the U.K. with "Hole in the Head".
2004:  Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic, formerly with Nirvana, appeared in public together for the first time in ten years at a rally in Las Vegas, Nevada for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.
2005:  Bono of U2 was invited to the White House where he discussed the G8 and fighting AIDS with U.S. President George W. Bush.

2005:  Alicia Keys led the Album chart with Unplugged.
2007:  Johnny Marr, guitarist of the Smiths and Modest Mouse, was hired as a visiting professor of music at the University of Salford in Manchester, England.  Marr taught several workshops and master classes to students pursuing the BA Popular Music and Recording degree.

2007:  Trini Lopez, who scored his biggest hit with a remake of the Peter, Paul & Mary song "If I Had a Hammer" in 1963, was given the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Latinos of Distinction Awards in Ontario, California.
2008:  Keane owned the top U.K. album with Perfect Symmetry.

2012:  Raphael Ravenscroft died of a heart attack in Exeter, England at the age of 70.  He'll be forever remembered for his classic sax solo in Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street", but Ravenscroft played on scores of great albums, working with ABBA, Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, America, Kim Carnes, Maxine Nightingale, Bonnie Tyler, Daft Punk, and many more. 

Born This Day:

1944:  George McCrae, who had one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era* with "Rock Your Baby" in 1975, was born in West Palm Beach, Florida.
1945:  Patrick Simmons, guitarist with the Doobie Brothers, was born in Aberdeen, Washington.
1945:  Jeannie C. Riley ("Harper Valley P.T.A." from 1968) was born in Stamford, Texas.  (Note:  many websites report her birthplace as Anson, Texas.  She was born in Stamford and raised in Anson, according to her official website ''.)
1946:  Keith Reid, lyricist of Procol Harum, was born in Welwyn, Garden City, Hertfordshire, England.
1947:  Wilbert Hart of the Delfonics ("La La Means I Love You" from 1968) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1950:  Patrick Simmons, founding member and guitarist of the Doobie Brothers, was born in Aberdeen, Washington.  (Note:  some websites claim Simmons was born on January 23, 1950, but he was born on October 19, 1948, according to the official website for the Doobie Brothers.)
1955:  Nino DeFranco, guitarist of the DeFranco Family ("Heartbeat...It's A Lovebeat" from 1973)

1960:  Jennifer Holliday ("And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going") was born in Riverside, Texas.
1960:  Dan Woodgate, drummer of Madness, was born in London.
1972:  Pras Michel of the Fugees was born in Brooklyn, New York.  (Note:  some websites report his birthplace as Haiti, and still others as New Jersey.  Michel is of Haitian heritage, but according to 'MTV', he was born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey.)

A Treat Tomorrow on Inside The Rock Era!

Because of the years that this group was popular, you won't find them among the Top 10 Artists of the 60's or The Top 10 Artists of the Seventies*.  But from 1966-1972, they scored hit after hit, and they'll be featured tomorrow in our Top 100 Artists of the Seventies*.

Join us on Inside The Rock Era!

The great Top 100 Artists of the Seventies so far...

We're already hearing that this is one of your favorite music specials so far.  It only gets better from here!

If you're just discovering it, we started on October 1 with #100.  Here are the links to the artists we have featured so far:

#100:  ZZ Top

#99:  Journey

#98:  Cheap Trick

#97:  AC/DC

#96:  Van Halen

#95:  Jefferson Starship

#94:  Bachman-Turner Overdrive

#93:  England Dan & John Ford Coley

#92:  Neil Sedaka

#91:  Kansas

#90:  KISS

#89:  Ringo Starr

#88:  Seals & Crofts

#87:  John Lennon

#86:  Andy Gibb

#85:  Beatles

#84:  Gordon Lightfoot

#83:  K.C. and the Sunshine Band

KC and The Sunshine Band, The #83 Artist of the Seventies*

We begin this group's story in 1973, when Harry Casey worked at a record store, helped out at Tone Record Distributors, and hung out at a local recording studio in Florida, anything that would make someone give him a chance to achieve his dream of recording a record for himself.

Henry Stone, who owned both Tone Distributors and TK Recording Studios, was the man that gave Casey his chance.  He liked the enthusiastic Casey, and Stone, who had recorded artists such as Ray Charles and James Brown at his studio, set out to help Casey.

Casey brought together studio musicians from TK and a local band called the Miami Junkanoo Band, which included the great percussionist Fermin Goytisolo.  But the best thing that happened was that Casey met Richard Finch, an engineer at TK.  Guitarist Jerome Smith and drummer Robert Johnson were added, and KC & the Sunshine Band had its beginnings.

The group recorded the album Do It Good in 1974.  "Blow Your Whistle" reached the Top 15 on the R&B chart, and "Sound Your Funky Horn" was another minor R&B hit.

While working on another album, Casey and Finch created the song "Rock Your Baby", which reached #1 in 51 countries for George McCrae.  This gave the songwriting duo substantial credibility.
The group's follow-up album, KC & the Sunshine Band, was released in 1975.  The first single flopped, but along came "Get Down Tonight".  It soared to #1 in both the U.S. and Canada.

Another hit, "That's The Way (I Like It)" repeated that success, and also hit #1 in the Netherlands and was #34 in the U.K.

KC & the Sunshine Band captured the American Music Award for Best R&B Artist, as the album went Triple Platinum.

On a roll, KC and the Sunshine Band released the album Part 3.  "(Shake Shake Shake) Shake Your Booty" also topped charts in the U.S. and Canada.

The red-hot group released the single "I'm Your Boogie Man", which also went to #1 in both the United States and Canada.  KC and the Sunshine Band thus became the first act to achieve four #1 songs in a 12-month period since the Beatles in 1964.

Casey had not only realized his dream of recording a record; he and the band were now a major factor in the Disco craze of the 70's.  Part 3 also sold over three million copies for the group.  They continued with the single "Keep It Comin' Love".  All it did was go to #2 (but they probably should have edited the last minute out of the 45...).

The group landed a song on the influential "Saturday Night Fever" Soundtrack, "Boogie Shoes".  The song stalled at #35, but nonetheless gave the group tremendous exposure.  And, the song is still heard every time someone watches the outstanding movie.  KC picked up Grammy Awards for Album of the Year and Producer of the Year for his work on the soundtrack. 

The next album Who Do Ya (Love) went Platinum, but the formula didn't work here, as no hits were generated.  In 1979, KC & the Sunshine Band released the album Do Ya Wanna' Go Party.  The group recorded a rare ballad, "Please Don't Go", which gave them their last big hit.  The single hit #1 in the  United States, Canada, and Australia, and was #3 in the U.K.

The title track was not released, but received significant airplay, especially in discoteques.

Do You Wanna' Go Party also went Platinum.  KC later joined a former high school friend, Teri DeSario, for the big hit "Yes, I'm Ready".  That of course does not factor into the point total achieved for the group.

The group landed 15 hits in the decade, with four #1 songs and five Top 10's.  They were prolific on the R&B chart, with 20 hits and eight Top 10 songs.

In 2002, KC was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  KC & the Sunshine Band sold over 500,000 albums in the U.S. in the Seventies.

Friday, October 17, 2014

This Date in Rock Music History: October 18

1957:  Paul McCartney performed with the Quarrymen for the first time at the New Clubmoor Hall in Liverpool, England.  McCartney, who played lead guitar, didn't perform well in his solo, which eventually led to George Harrison being invited into the group and Paul switching to bass.
1957:  Peggy Sue Gerron first heard the song that was named for her when she went to see Buddy Holly & the Crickets in concert in Sacramento, California.  Gerron later married Crickets drummer Jerry Allison.
1963:  Chuck Berry was released from federal prison in Springfield, Missouri after serving 19 months for transporting a minor across state lines for an immoral purpose.

1964:  The Beatles recorded "I Feel Fine", "Eight Days A Week", "Kansas City/Hey Hey Hey Hey", "I'll Follow The Sun", "Mr. Moonlight", "Rock And Roll Music", "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby" and "Words Of Love" in a marathon nine-hour recording session at the EMI Studios on Abbey Road in London.  The group was working to complete the songs on their upcoming Beatles for Sale album.  
1964:  The Animals set out on their first tour of the United Kingdom at the ABC in Manchester, England.  Carl Perkins, Gene Vincent and the Nashville Teens opened. 
1967:  The movie How I Won the War starring John Lennon premiered in theatres in London.

1967:  The Bee Gees topped the U.K. chart with "Massachusetts".
1968:  John Lennon and Yoko Ono were arrested for possession of marijuana when police raided Ringo Starr's apartment.
1969:  Rod Stewart joined the group Faces as its lead singer.
1969:  The Jackson 5 made their television debut on the show Hollywood Palace on ABC-TV.
1969:  The Temptations had the top song on the R&B chart for the third week with "I Can't Get Next To You".

 African-American artists have gone into an abyss lately but in 1969 the Temptations were amazing!

1969:  The Temptations rose to #1 with "I Can't Get Next To You".  Sly & the Family Stone had the #2 song with "Hot Fun In The Summertime" and after four weeks at #1, the Archies slipped with "Sugar, Sugar".  Oliver's "Jean" was #4 followed by "Little Woman" from Bobby Sherman.  The rest of the Top 10: The 111th hit for Elvis Presley--"Suspicious Minds", "That's The Way Love Is" by Marvin Gaye entered the Top 10, "Wedding Bell Blues" shot up from 25 to 8 for the 5th Dimension, Three Dog Night's big hit "Easy To Be Hard" was now #9 and "Tracy" by the Cuff Links came in #10.

1971:  Bread released their single "Baby I'm-a-Want You".  (Note:  one naive website claims the song was released October 23.  "Baby I'm-a-Want You" debuted on the Singles chart on October 23.  It is physically impossible for a record company to mail a 45, be received by radio stations, listened to and added to radio station playlists, reported to the trade papers, and printed and published by the trade papers, all in one day.)
1972:  The Diana Ross movie Lady Sings the Blues opened in theaters.  (Note:  some websites report the opening as October 8 or October 12, but according to the book 'If You Can't be Free, be a Mystery:  In Search of Billie Holliday', the film premiered at the Lowes State Theater in Manhattan New York on October 18.)
1974:  Mary Woodson threw a pot of boiling grits on her boyfriend, Al Green, when he was getting out of the bathtub, then shot herself.
1974:  Sweet Sensation owned the #1 song in the U.K.--"Sad Sweet Dreamer".
1975:  The Eagles performed at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the One of These Nights tour.

1975:  Simon and Garfunkel reunited on the second episode of Saturday Night Live on NBC-TV.
 1975:  Olivia Newton-John scored her fourth consecutive #1 and sixth straight Top 3 song on the Easy Listening chart with "Something Better To Do".

                            More soul than 1,000 rappers combined...

1975:  The Spinners reached #1 on the R&B chart with "Games People Play".
1975:  Silver Convention rose from 87 to 48 with "Fly, Robin, Fly".

                              The amazing 4 Seasons story wasn't over yet...

1975:  Neil Sedaka and Elton John remained at #1 with "Bad Blood" in an excellent Top 10.  John Denver held steady with "Calypso"/"I'm Sorry" and "Miracles" by Jefferson Starship moved up to #3.  The Eagles had their third Top 10 in a row with "Lyin' Eyes" which jumped up from 10 to 4 and Sweet climbed into the #5 spot with "Ballroom Blitz".  The rest of the Top 10:  Orleans and "Dance With Me", Morris Albert's "Feelings", Hellen Reddy couldn't budge with "Ain't No Way To Treat A Lady", the Spinners entered the Top 10 with "Games People Play" and, in an amazing Rock Era story, the 4 Seasons reached the Top 10 for the first time in eight years with the 43rd hit of their career--"Who Loves You".

1975:  The fine album Windsong by John Denver took over from Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here as the top album.  Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run was third with Jefferson Airplane cruising in with Red Octopus.  The rest of the Top 10:  Win, Lose or Draw from the Allman Brothers Band, the Eagles' great album One of These Nights was at #6, Linda Ronstadt moved to 7 with Prisoner in Disguise, the Spinners and Pick of the Litter, Jethro Tull moved up with Minstrel in the Gallery and George Harrison's Extra Texture moved from 34-10.

1976:  Leo Sayer released the single "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing".
1979:  Elton John performed for the first of nine nights at the Palladium in New York City.

1979:  The Buggles rose to #1 in the U.K. with "Video Killed The Radio Star".
1980:  The Game by Queen was #1 on the Album chart for the fifth week but Guilty from Barbra Streisand moved from 15 to 2.  Diana by Diana Ross came in third while the excellent "Xanadu" Soundtrack was #4.  The rest of the Top 10:  One Step Closer from the Doobie Brothers, Crimes of Passion by Pat Benatar remained at #6, Give Me the Night by George Benson, the Cars slipped with Panorama, Emotional Rescue by the Rolling Stones was #9 and AC/DC logged a third straight week at #10 with Back in Black.

1980:  Queen had the biggest hit of their career with "Another One Bites The Dust" which remained #1 for a third week.  Barbra Streisand was poised at #2 with "Woman In Love" while Diana Ross was at #3 with her 24th solo hit and 57th overall (counting the Supremes)--"Upside Down".  Air Supply was officially #4 with "All Out Of Love" even though it was a #1 song in most markets.  The rest of the Top 10:  The Pointer Sisters were up big (12-5) with "He's So Shy", the Doobie Brothers edged up with "Real Love", Kenny Loggins remained at #7 with "I'm Alright", Olivia Newton-John and ELO combined for "Xanadu", Eddie Rabbitt with "Drivin' My Life Away" and Paul Simon fell to 10 with "Late In The Evening".

1982:  Don Henley released one of The Most Important Songs of the Rock Era*--"Dirty Laundry", a seething satire on the media and specifically, television news.
1986:  Christine McVie married Eduardo Quintela.
1986:  Cameo owned the top song on the R&B chart for the third week with "Word Up".

1986:  Genesis had the top Adult Contemporary song again with "Throwing It All Away".

1986:  The great album Fore!  from Huey Lewis & the News was #1 but Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi was a strong second.  The "Top Gun" Soundtrack fell to 3, Lionel Richie's Dancing on the Ceiling was in the #4 position and Raising Hell from Run-D.M.C. was 5.  The rest of the Top 10:  Back in the High Life from Steve Winwood, Madonna dropped with True Blue, Billy Joel's The Bridge, Invisible Touch from Genesis remained at #9 and Janet Jackson held on to #10 with Control.
1987:  The Smiths starred in a documentary shown on television in the U.K. filmed during the recording of Strangeways.

1988:  The Traveling Wilburys released the amazing album Volume One.
1989:  Axl Rose, lead singer of Guns N' Roses, announced to the crowd at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, California that he was quitting the group.

1994:  In 1980, the members of the supergroup the Eagles vowed they would get back together "when hell freezes over."  Here it was 14 years later and that is what happened, and the band jokingly called their album Hell Freezes Over.  It contained live tracks from an immensely successful tour and four new songs.  On this date, they released their first single in 14 years--"Get Over It".
1994:  Lee Allen, great saxophone player who played on such songs as "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard, and "I'm Walking" by Fats Domino, who worked with the Rolling Stones, the Stray Cats, Etta James, and numerous others, died at the age of 67.
1997:  Hanson sang the U.S. national anthem at the opening game of the World Series in Florida.

1997:  "Candle In The Wind 1997" by Elton John, which had debuted at #1 the week before, remained in that spot. 
2000:  The New York State Supreme Court overturned a Court of Appeals ruling and ruled that the Ronettes did not have the right to share in money earned by producer Phil Spector from movies, television and advertising in using the group's songs.  The Court cited a 1963 contract in reaching their decision and ended a 15-year dispute.

2000:  Julie London ("Cry Me A River" from 1955), who had suffered a severe stroke in 1995, died in Encino, California at age 74.
2005:  Midge Ure of Ultravox and co-founder of Live Aid, earned an Order of the British Empire medal from the Queen at Buckingham Palace in London.
2008:  Adele appeared on Saturday Night Live on NBC-TV.
2008:  T.I. had the #1 album with Paper Trail.

Born This Day:

1926:  Chuck Berry was born in St. Louis, Missouri.

1937:  Cynthia Weil, lyricist for Don Kirshner's Aldon Music, who wrote such hits as "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "On Broadway", was born in New York City.
1938:  Ronnie Bright of the Coasters was born in New York City.
1943:  Russ Gugiere, guitarist and vocalist for the Association, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

1947:  Singer/songwriter Laura Nyro, whose songs "Wedding Bell Blues" and "Stoned Soul Picnic" were big hits for the 5th Dimension, and also wrote "Eli's Comin'" for Three Dog Night, "And When I Die" for Blood, Sweat & Tears, and "Stoney End" for Barbra Streisand, was born in The Bronx, New York; died of ovarian cancer in Danbury, Connecticut on April 8, 1997.
1949:  Gary Richrath, guitarist for REO Speedwagon, was born in Peoria, Illinois; died September 13, 2015.
1949:  Joe Egan, singer/songwriter and co-founder of Stealer's Wheel ("Stuck in the Middle With You" from 1973) was born in Paisley, Scotland.
1974:  Peter Svenson, main songwriter and guitarist of the Cardigans ("Lovefool"), was born in Jönköping, Sweden.
1975:  Baby Bash was born in Vallejo, California.
1982:  Ne-Yo was born in Camden, Arkansas.
1987:  Zachary Efron, singer from High School Musical and famous actor, was born in San Luis Obispo, California.

Coming Tomorrow in The Top 100 Artists of the Seventies...

We won't tell if you do some dancing while listening to The #83 Artist*.  He worked as a DJ, but he had dreams of recording.  That he did, and he and his band were a major force in the mid to late 70's.

Stay tuned for that on Inside The Rock Era!

Gordon Lightfoot, The #84 Artist of the Seventies*

Gordon Lightfoot began training in music at an early age, and he sang in the choir at St. Paul's United Church in Orillia, Ontario, Canada.  Gordon began performing at music festivals and local operettas.  In his teens, Lightfoot learned how to play piano and taught himself how to play drums.  In high school, Gordon taught himself to play folk guitar, and performed often. 

Lightfoot moved to California in 1958, where he studied jazz composition and orchestration at the Westlake College of Music in Hollywood.  He sang on demos for others, and wrote, arranged, and produced commercial jingles.  But Lightfoot missed Canada, and moved back in 1960.

Gotdon began performing with the Swinging Eight and the Gino Silvi Singers, and played the coffeehouses around Toronto.  He began experiencing success in Canada as early in 1962 with two local hits. 

In 1965, Lightfoot signed a management contract with Albert Grossman, who was also Bob Dylan's manager.  Grossman helped Gordon get a recording contract with United Artists later in the year.  Lightfoot's appearance at the famous Newport Folk Festival garnered him significant attention, and he released his debut album Lightfoot! in 1966.

Lightfoot released four more albums before switching to Warner Brothers Records in 1970.  His first album for Warner Brothers was Sit Down, Young Stranger.  Warner delivered for him, as Lightfoot achieved an international smash with "If You Could Read My Mind".  The single sold over one million copies and officially peaked at #5, although many stations had it #1.  The song did reach #1 on the Easy Listening chart.

Lightfoot won an ASCAP Songwriting Award for his great song, and he also received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Performance, Male.  Unfortunately, Lightfoot didn't have a capable follow-up, and his next four releases stalled.  In 1972, he came back with the album Don Quixote, which included this underrated track--"Beautiful".

In 1974, Lightfoot released one of his best career albums, Sundown, which contained the #1 title song.  "Sundown" achieved #1 in both the United States and Canada, and Gordon won another ASCAP Songwriting Award.

"Carefree Highway" gave Lightfoot his third career #1 song on the Easy Listening chart, and a #10 Popular hit.


"Circle Of Steel" is another popular song on the album.

In 1975, Lightfoot released the album Cold on the Shoulder.  The top song from the album was "Rainy Day People", a bit underrated at #26 overall, but another #1 Adult hit.


In November, Lightfoot read about the loss of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank on November 10 on Lake Superior, with all 29 crew members losing their lives.  He sat down and wrote a song about it, with many of the facts coming from the news.  In 1976, Lightfoot released the album Summertime Dream, which gave him another smash hit.  "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" did not reach #1, but it was a solid #2. 

Lightfoot received another Grammy nomination for "The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald" for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance.  He also captured Song of the Year honors at the ASCAP Awards.

The album Endless Wire yielded another big Adult hit for Gordon--"The Circle Is Small (I Can See It In Your Eyes)", a song he had included on an earlier album, but re-recorded in 1978.  It reached #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Lightfoot never found the Top 10 again, but he has proven to be one of the most enduring of the 70's stars.  His career has now included recordings and performances in five decades.  His songs have been recorded by Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Johnny Cash, Olivia Newton-John, Bob Dylan, Dan Fogelberg, John Mellencamp, Anne Murray, Glen Campbell, Peter, Paul and Mary, Sarah McLachlan, Jim Croce, Neil Young, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Buffett, and many others.

Robbie Robertson of the Band said that Lightfoot was one of his "favourite Canadian songwriters and is absolutely a national treasure."  Dylan said that when he heard a Gordon Lightfoot song, he wished "it would last forever".

Lightfoot was one of the featured performers at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary, Alberta.  He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 1979.

In 1991, Lightfoot was selected as the celebrity captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team for the National Hockey League's 75th anniversary season.  In 2003, Gordon was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, the highest honour a Canadian civilian can attain.  In 2007, Canada Post honored Lightfoot by including his name and image on a postage stamp.

In 2012, Lightfoot was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.