Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Music History Today: January 13, 2021

January 13, 1979: Donny Hathaway commits suicide at age 33 by jumping from the balcony of his 15th floor room at the Essex House hotel in New York City.

Most people will tell you that Donny Hathaway's true home as an artist was not the studio but the stage.  One moment will serve as an illustration. 

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It comes from a performance that wasn't included on Donny Hathaway Live, although it was recorded at one of the sets from which Atlantic drew songs for the album. After his band had left the stage at Los Angeles's Troubadour one night, Hathaway returned alone to play "A Song for You" as an encore. Although the recording would not be released until after his death, it is one of his most inspired performances.

Read more: NPR

January 13, 1962: Gene Chandler releases "Duke Of Earl."

It started out as a vocal warmup. Gene Chandler, a Chicago native and former Army serviceman, was part of an early-’60s singing group called the Dukays; they’d had a couple of minor hits on the R&B charts. 

They’d sing nonsense syllables in different keys to get their voices going, and Chandler would sometimes turn those nonsense syllables into nonsense words: “Duke, duke, duke, duke of Earl.” When he turned them into a song, that song was pretty much still nonsense:  “Nothing can stop me now cuz I’m the Duke Of Eeeeaaaaarl!” And the pure, giddy nonsense of “Duke Of Earl” is what makes it great. 
Read more: Stereogum

January 13, 1968: Smokey Robinson & the Miracles reached number 1 on the R&B chart with "I Second That Emotion."

The inspiration for "I Second That Emotion" struck when Smokey Robinson was out shopping with his friend and fellow writer Al Cleveland.

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Picking out some pearls for his then-wife and fellow Miracles member Claudette Rogers, he told the shop assistant that he hoped Claudette would like them. “I second that emotion,” said Cleveland, meaning to say “motion.” Both of them realized that they had the title of a potential hit, on which Claudette would add backing vocals with the rest of the Miracles. 
Read more: U Discover Music

January 13, 1975: Minnie Riperton releases "Lovin' You"

Plenty of hit ballads sound a bit like lullabies. “Lovin’ You,” the only big hit for the art-soul singer Minnie Riperton, actually is a lullaby — or, at least, that’s how it started out. 

Minnie Ripperton

When she and her husband Richard Rudolph wrote “Lovin’ You,” Minnie Riperton was basically retired from the music business. They’d moved from Chicago to Gainesville, Florida, where they were raising a couple of young kids. When their daughter — the future SNL/Bridesmaids star Maya Rudolph — was a baby, Riperton would get her to sleep by singing her a version of “Lovin’ You.” Riperton never intended to record it.  
Read more: Stereogum

January 13, 1973: Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert is recorded at the Rainbow Theatre in London.

Most stints in rehab take place secretly, or at the very least privately. Then there was Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert, which served as an all-too-public, one-night cold turkey of sorts that proclaimed the legendary guitarist's resurgence from the dire depths of heroin addiction – goosed along by some helpful celebrity friends.

Eric Clapton

Clapton's descent into serious addiction had begun almost three years prior, and was spurred on by a combination of professional and personal issues – namely his restless cameos with multiple bands and artists and unrequited love for George Harrison's then-wife Pattie Boyd, who was the subject of Derek and the Dominos' "Layla." 

Read more: Ultimate Classic Rock

A Song for You
Donny Hathaway

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