Category Archives: black music artists

Blue Magic – Sideshow


Blue Magic is an American R&B/soul music group, and one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. Founded in 1972, the group’s original members included lead singer Ted Mills with Vernon Sawyer, Wendell Sawyer, Keith Beaton, and Richard Pratt. Their most notable songs included smooth soul ballads such as “Sideshow”, “Spell”, “What’s Come Over Me”, “Three Ring Circus” and “Stop to Start.”


Blue Magic was formed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1972 when former member of The Delfonics Randy Cain brought in singer-songwriter Ted Mills to do some writing with the Philly-based WMOT production company to create a new band. A short time later the group Shades of Love, featuring Keith Beaton, Richard Pratt, Vernon Sawyer and his brother Wendell, came in to audition. (According to Marc Taylor in his book ‘A Touch of Classic Soul of the Early 1970s’,[1] “although the group performed admirably, they lacked a standout lead singer”.) The execs decided to replace the Toppicks, the act Mills recorded with. They inserted Shades of Love (which they owned contractually) with Ted Mills and retitled the group Blue Magic. They were signed with Atco Records through WMOT in the same year.


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James Brown- This is A Man’ s World


“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” is a song by James Brown and Betty Jean Newsome. Brown recorded it on February 16, 1966 in a New York studio and released it as a single later that year. It reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.[2][3] Its title is a word play on the 1963 comedy film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

The song’s lyrics, which Rolling Stone characterized as “biblically chauvinistic”,[4] attribute all the works of modern civilization (the car, the train, the boat, and the electric light) to the efforts of men, but claim that it all would “mean nothing without a woman or a girl”.[1] The song also states that man made toys for the baby boys and girls, and makes a comment about the fact that “Man makes Money”, from other men. Before the song’s fade, Brown states that man is lost in his bitterness and in his emptiness. Brown’s co-writer and onetime girlfriend, Betty Jean Newsome, wrote the lyrics based on her own observations of the relations between the sexes. In later years, Newsome would claim that Brown didn’t write any part of the song and argued in court that Brown sometimes forgot to pay her royalties.[5]

The composition of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” developed over a period of several years. Tammy Montgomery, better known as Tammi Terrell, recorded “I Cried”, a Brown-penned song based on the same chord changes, in 1963. Brown himself recorded a demo version of the song, provisionally entitled “It’s a Man’s World”, in 1964. This version later appeared on the CD compilations The CD of JB and Star Time.

The released version of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” was recorded quickly, in only two takes, with a studio ensemble that included members of Brown’s touring band and a string section arranged and conducted by Sammy Lowe. A female chorus was involved in the recording sessions, but their parts were edited out of the song’s final master.[6]

“It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” became a staple of Brown’s live shows for the rest of his career. Its slow, simmering groove and declamatory vocal line made it suitable for long, open-ended performances incorporating spoken ruminations on love and loss and sometimes interpolations from other songs. It appears on almost all of Brown’s live albums starting with 1967’s Live at the Garden. Brown also recorded a big band jazz arrangement of the song with the Louie Bellson Orchestra for his 1970 album Soul on Top.

In 2004, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” was ranked number 123 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest songs of all time.


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The Staple Singers, is known as  an American gospel, soul and R&B singing group. Roebuck “Pops” Staples (1914–2000), the patriarch of the family, formed the group with his children Cleotha (1934–2013), Pervis (b. 1935), and Mavis (b. 1939). Yvonne (b. 1936) replaced her brother when he was drafted into the U.S. Army, and again in 1970. They are best known for their 1970s hits “Respect Yourself”, “I’ll Take You There”, “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me)”, and “Let’s Do It Again”, which with one exception (“I’ll Take You There”) peaked on the Hot 100 within a week from Christmas Day.

While the family surname is “Staples”, the group used the singular form for its name, “The Staple Singers”.


Roebuck moved from Mississippi to Chicago after his marriage, and worked in steel mills and meat packing plants while his family of four children grew up.[1] The family began appearing in Chicago-area churches in 1948. Their first public singing appearance was at the Mount Zion Church, Chicago, where Roebuck’s brother, the Rev. Chester Staples, was pastor.[2] They signed their first professional contract in 1952.[3] During their early career they recorded in an acoustic gospel-folk style with various labels: United Records, Vee-Jay Records (their “Uncloudy Day” and “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” were best sellers), Checker Records, Riverside Records, and then Epic Records in 1965. “Uncloudy Day” was an early influence on Bob Dylan, who said of it in 2015, “It was the most mysterious thing I’d ever heard… I’d think about them even at my school desk…Mavis looked to be about the same age as me in her picture (on the cover of “Uncloudy Day”)…Her singing just knocked me out…And Mavis was a great singer—deep and mysterious. And even at the young age, I felt that life itself was a mystery.”[4]

It was on Epic that the Staple Singers developed a style more accessible to mainstream audiences, with “Why (Am I Treated So Bad)” and “For What It’s Worth” (Stephen Stills) in 1967. In 1968, the Staple Singers signed to Stax Records and released two albums with Steve Cropper—Soul Folk in Action and We’ll Get Over, Pervis returning for these.[5] After Cropper left Stax, Al Bell produced their recordings, conducting the rhythm sessions at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio and cutting the overdubs himself at Memphis’ Ardent Studios,[6] moving in a more funk and soul direction.

The first Stax hit was “Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)” in early 1971. Their late 1971 recording of “Respect Yourself”, written by Luther Ingram and Mack Rice, peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Both sold over one million copies, and were each awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.[7] The song’s theme of self-empowerment had universal appeal, released in the period immediately following the intense American civil rights movement of the 1960s. In 1972 “I’ll Take You There” topped both Billboard charts.[8] In 1973 “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)” reached No. 9 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the R&B chart.

After Stax’s 1975 bankruptcy, the foursome signed to Curtis Mayfield’s label, Curtom Records, and released “Let’s Do It Again”, produced by Mayfield; the song became their second No. 1 pop hit in the US and the album was also successful. In 1976 they collaborated with The Band for their film The Last Waltz, performing on the song “The Weight” (which The Staple Singers had previously covered on their first Stax album). However, they were not able to regain their momentum, releasing only occasional minor hits. Their 1984 album Turning Point featured their final Top 40 hit, a cover of Talking Heads’ “Slippery People” (which also reached the Top 5 on the Dance chart). In 1994, they again performed the song “The Weight” with country music artist Marty Stuart for MCA Nashville’s Rhythm, Country and Blues compilation, somewhat re-establishing an audience. The song “Respect Yourself” was used by Spike Lee in the soundtrack to his movie Crooklyn, made in 1994.

In 1999, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Pops Staples died of complications from a concussion suffered in December 2000. In 2005, the group was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Mavis Staples has continued to carry on the family tradition and continues to add her vocal talents to both the projects of other artists and her own solo ventures. Mavis appeared at Glastonbury in 2015, and her 2016 album Livin’ on a High Note includes a simple acoustic version of a sermon of the late Martin Luther King, whom she knew, in the track MLK Song.[9] Cleotha Staples died in Chicago on February 21, 2013, after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for over a decade.[10]


Posted by on March 20, 2018 in 1970s, black music artists



“Wake Up Everybody – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes”

“Wake Up Everybody – Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes”
Harold Melvin & the Blue Noteswere an American singing group, one of the most popular Philadelphia soul groups of the 1970s. The group’s repertoire included soul, R&B, doo-wop, and disco.

Founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the early 1950s as The Charlemagnes, the group is most noted for several hits on Gamble and Huff’s Philadelphia International label between 1972 and 1976, although they performed and recorded until Melvin’s death in 1997. However, the remaining members, the Blue Notes, were reunited in 2013 for the Soul Train Cruise, and will reunite again in 2015, during the fourth sailing.

Despite group founder and original lead singer Harold Melvin’s top billing, the Blue Notes’ most famous member was Teddy Pendergrass, their lead singer during the successful years at Philadelphia International.


The group formerly known as The Charlemagnes took on the name “The Blue Notes” in 1954, with a lineup consisting of lead singer Harold Melvin (June 25, 1939—March 24, 1997), Bernard Williams, Roosevelt Brodie, Jesse Gillis, Jr., and Franklin Peaker.

The group recorded for a number of labels without success from its inception into the 1960s. The 1960 single “My Hero” was a minor hit for Val-ue Records, and 1965’s “Get Out (and Let Me Cry)” was an R&B hit for Landa Records. During this period, the group’s lineup changed frequently, with Bernard Wilson leaving the act to start a group called “The Original Blue Notes”, and Harold Melvin bringing in new lead singer John Atkins.

In 1970, the group recruited Teddy Pendergrass as the drummer for their backing band. Pendergrass had been a former member of Philadelphia R&B group The Cadillacs (not the New York group that had hits in the late 1950s) and was promoted to lead singer when John Atkins quit the same year.

Philadelphia International successEdit
This line-up of the group, featuring Melvin, Pendergrass, Bernard Wilson, Lawrence Brown, and Lloyd Parks, was signed to Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International label in 1972, scoring several major R&B and pop hits including million-selling singles and albums over the next four years.

Among the Blue Notes’ most important and successful recordings are love songs such as 1972’s “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” (#1 Billboard R&B, #3 pop), their breakout single, “I Miss You” (#7 R&B, #58 pop), “The Love I Lost” (#1 R&B, #7 pop, 1973) and socially conscious songs such as “Wake Up Everybody” (#1 R&B, #12 pop) and “Bad Luck” (#4 R&B, #15 pop), both in 1975. “Bad Luck” holds the record for the longest-running number-one hit on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart: 11 weeks. A fourth #1 R&B hit for the group was 1975’s “Hope That We Can Be Together Soon” which featured female vocalist Sharon Paige.

A 1976 cover of “Don’t Leave Me This Way” by Motown artist Thelma Houston was a number-one hit on the US pop chart; her version is one of the defining recordings of the disco era. The Blue Notes’ version on the album,

“Wake Up Everybody”

was not released as a single in the USA at the time, but proved to be the group’s biggest hit in the UK (#5) when released there as a single in 1977. The track was finally issued as a single in the US on 12-inch in 1979, coupled with “Bad Luck”. The group recorded four albums with Gamble & Huff, all of them going gold (over 500,000 copies), according to RIAA, including “To Be True (#26, Billboard Top 40 albums) and “Wake Up Everybody” (#9), both in 1975.

“Wake Up Everybody”

and a greatest hits compilation released in 1976 called “Collector’s Item” have now sold over a million copies.

Despite success, the Blue Notes’ lineup continued to change regularly. In 1974, Melvin brought in Jerry Cummings to replace Lloyd Parks and Sharon Paige was added to the lineup at that time, providing solo performances on several recordings. While at the top of their success in 1976, Pendergrass quit after an argument over the money he earned. A year earlier, he had gained billing recognition by having the act renamed to “Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes featuring Theodore Pendergrass”, starting from the “Wake Up Everybody” album.

Pendergrass went on to a successful solo career, with four consecutive million-selling albums with Philadelphia International between 1977 and 1980. His career was almost tragically cut short by a paralyzing 1982 car accident. He made a triumphant comeback in 1984, signing with Asylum/Elektra Records, and recording the hit LP Love Language and then the platinum selling Joy LP, released in 1988, which featured the Grammy nominated title song, an R&B number 1; his comeback was cemented by an appearance at the Live Aid concert in 1985.



“Early in the Morning”  the Gap Band

“Early in the Morning”  the Gap Band

Early in the Morning” is a song originally performed by The Gap Band and written by member Charlie Wilson and producers Lonnie Simmons and Rudy Taylor. It was released as a single in 1982 and went on to become their biggest hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 24, and also topped Billboard’s R&B chart for three weeks.[1]The single also peaked at number 13 on the dance charts.[2]The song became a hit again when Robert Palmer covered it in 1988. This version peaked at #19 on the Billboard Hot 100 and is to date the highest charting version of the song on that chart.

The song was used as the music for a film-making montage in Michel Gondry’s 2008 film Be Kind Rewind.


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“It’s A Shame”


“It’s a Shame”

is a song co-written by Stevie Wonder, Syreeta Wright and Lee Garrett and produced by Wonder as a single for The Spinners on Motown’s V.I.P. Records label. The single became the Detroit-reared group’s biggest single on the Motown Records company since they had signed with the company in 1964 and also their biggest hit in a decade.

The lineup of the Spinners include original members Pervis Jackson, Henry Fambrough, Billy Henderson and Bobby Smith and lead vocalist G.C. Cameron. The quintet recorded the single in 1970.

The song, which is about a man who complains about a lover’s “messin’ around” on him, became a huge hit for the group reaching number-fourteen on the Billboard Hot 100 and number-three on the R&B singles chart, making it their biggest hit to date. The song was the first song Wonder produced for another act by himself.

Two years later, the group would leave Motown for a contract with Atlantic Records on the advice of fellow Detroit native Aretha Franklin, also an artist on that label. Cameron, who was having an affair with Gwen Gordy (sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy) decided to stay in Motown and the group hired Cameron’s cousin Philippé Wynne to replace him. Later, Cameron moved with the Gordys to Los Angeles, and stayed with Motown for over a decade.

Early recording years: 1961–71
The Spinners first hit the charts in August 1961 on Harvey Fuqua’s Tri-Phi Records, with “That’s What Girls Are Made For”, peaking at number 27. Bobby Smith sang lead vocal on this track, coached by Fuqua. (Some sources report Fuqua sang lead vocal on this track, but both Smith and Fuqua have stated at various times that it was Smith.) The group’s follow-up, “Love (I’m So Glad) I Found You”, also featured lead vocals by Smith, although again some sources credit Fuqua. This track reached number 91 that November, but none of their other Tri-Phi singles charted.

The extent to which Fuqua became a member of the group during their stay at Tri-Phi is debated. Fuqua apparently sang on at least some of the records, and at minimum considered himself a Spinner, as made explicit by the credits on Tri-Phi 1010 and 1024—the artist credit on both these 1962 singles reads “Harvey (Formerly of the Moonglows and the Spinners)”. However most sources,[clarification needed] while respecting Fuqua’s contributions to the group, do not list him as an official member.

James Edwards’ brother, Edgar “Chico” Edwards, replaced Dixon in the group in 1963, at which time Tri-Phi and the entire artist roster was bought out by Fuqua’s brother-in-law Berry Gordy of Motown Records. The Spinners were then assigned to the Motown label.

In 1964, the Spinners made their debut at the Apollo Theater and won instant acclaim, a rare feat at the time.[citation needed] But with the exception of “I’ll Always Love You” (led by Smith), which hit number 35 in 1965, success mostly eluded them during the 1960s. After “I’ll Always Love You”, they released one single a year from 1966 to 1969 inclusive, but none charted on the Billboard Hot 100, and only their 1966 song “Truly Yours” (led by Smith) hit the Billboard R&B chart, peaking at number 16.

With commercial success virtually non-existent, during much of this decade the Spinners were used by Motown as road managers, chaperones and chauffeurs for other groups, and even as shipping clerks. G. C. Cameron replaced Edgar “Chico” Edwards in 1967, and in 1969, the group switched to the Motown-owned V.I.P. imprint. (The label name is somewhat ironic, given that V.I.P. was generally considered a substandard imprint behind Motown, Gordy, Tamla, and Soul).[citation needed]

In 1970, after a five-year chart absence, they hit number 14 with writer-producer Stevie Wonder’s composition (the Cameron-led) “It’s a Shame” (co-written by Syreeta Wright), and charted again the following year with another song Wonder wrote and produced, “We’ll Have It Made” (led by Cameron), from their new album 2nd Time Around. However, these were their last two singles for V.I.P.

Shortly after the release of 2nd Time Around, as Fambrough has stated in interview,[3] has it that Atlantic Records recording artist Aretha Franklin suggested the group finish out their Motown contract and sign with Atlantic. The group made the switch but due to his contractual obligations, Cameron was unable to leave Motown so he remained with Motown as a solo artist and suggested his cousin, singer Philippé Wynne, join the Spinners as Cameron’s replacement and the group’s new lead singer. However, original lead singer Bobby Smith also retained his lead position.

The hit years with Philippé Wynne Edit
When the Spinners signed to Atlantic in 1972, they were a respected but commercially unremarkable singing group who had never had a top-ten pop hit — despite having been a recording act for over a decade. However, under the helm of producer and songwriter Thom Bell, the Spinners charted five top 100 singles (and two top 10s) from their first post-Motown album, Spinners (1972), and went on to become one of the biggest soul groups of the 1970s.

The Bobby Smith-led “I’ll Be Around”, their first top ten hit, was actually the B-side of their first Atlantic single, (the Wynne-led) “How Could I Let You Get Away”. Radio airplay for the B-side led Atlantic to flip the single over, with “I’ll Be Around” hitting #3 and “How Could I Let You Get Away” reaching #77. “I’ll Be Around” was also the Spinners’ first million-selling hit single.[4]

The 1973 follow-up singles “Could It Be I’m Falling in Love” (led by Smith), “One of a Kind (Love Affair)” (led by Wynne), and “Ghetto Child” (led by Wynne) cemented the group’s reputation, as well as further that of Bell, a noted Philly soul producer.

Following their Atlantic successes, Motown also issued a “Best of the Spinners” LP which featured selections from their Motown/V.I.P. recordings. They also remixed and reissued the 1970 B-side “Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music” (led by Smith) as a 1973 A-side. In the midst of their Atlantic hits, it crawled to number #91 US.

The group’s 1974 follow-up album, Mighty Love, featured three Top 20 hits, “I’m Coming Home,” “Love Don’t Love Nobody,” and the title track. Their biggest hit of the year, however, was a collaboration with Dionne Warwick, “Then Came You” (led by Smith and Warwick), which hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming each act’s first chart-topping ‘Pop’ hit. The song also reached the Top 3 of Billboard′s R&B and Easy Listening charts.

The Spinners hit the Top 10 twice in the next two years with the Smith-led “They Just Can’t Stop It (The Games People Play)” (Billboard #5) and the Wynne-led “The Rubberband Man” (Billboard #2). “Games People Play” featured guest vocalist Barbara Ingram (though producer Bell disputed this in a UK-based interview, claiming Barbara’s line was actually group member Henry Fambrough – his voice sped up[5]) and led to a nickname of “12:45” for bass singer Jackson, after his signature vocal line on the song.


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A Taste of honey – “Boogie Oogie Oogie”

A Taste of honey – “Boogie Oogie Oogie”

A Taste of Honey was the name of an American recording act, formed in 1971 by associates Janice-Marie Johnson and Perry Kibble. In 1978, they had one of the best known chart-toppers of the disco era, “Boogie Oogie Oogie”. After their popularity waned during the 1980s, Johnson went on to record as a solo artist and released the album One Taste of Honey which produced numerous minor hits. In 2004, singers Hazel Payne (guitar) and Janice–Marie Johnson (bass) reunited for the first time in over 20 years to perform on the PBS specials Get Down Tonight: The Disco Explosion and My Music: Funky Soul Superstars.



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