Monday, April 19, 2021

Music History Today: April 20, 2021

April 20, 1968: "Lady Madonna" from the Beatles peaked at the number 4 position on the Hot 100 weekly chart.

Following a string of innovative singles, which were all so different from one another, The Beatles changed direction yet again. For their first single release of 1968, they went back to their roots for “Lady Madonna.”

The Beatles rehearsing in Miami Beach in 1964
The Beatles rehearsing in Miami Beach in 1964

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In a 1994 interview, Paul admitted, “‘Lady Madonna’ was me, sitting down at the piano trying to write a bluesy boogie-woogie thing … It reminded me of Fats Domino for some reason, so I started singing a Fats Domino impression. It took my other voice to a very odd place.” 
Read more: U Discover Music

April 20, 1968: Sly & the Family Stone peak at number 8 on the Hot 100 with their hit song "Dance to the Music."

Sly Stone took his manager’s advice and wrote something simple. It worked: Dance to the Music gave the group their first hit and turned them into major-league pop stars. 

Straightforward it may have been, but the song is daring, too. The track breaks down the Family Stone method into its constituent elements, allowing rivals and competitors sight of the group’s moving parts. The song effectively introduces the band members, turning them into characters that fans could begin to know and identify with. 

Read more: The Guardian

April 20, 1970: The Five Stairsteps released the single "O-o-h Child."

The soul ballad was written by Stan Vincent, a New Yorker who began his show-business career as a kid actor on the Chicago-based mid-1950s Saturday morning TV series, “Watch Mr. Wizard.” He later wrote hits for Connie Francis and managed a couple of New York doo-wop groups.

The Five Stairsteps
The Five Stairsteps

Vincent fell into The Five Stairsteps orbit after pop artist Lou Christie had a smash 1969 hit with Vincent’s “I’m Gonna Make You Mine.” Christie recorded for Buddha Records, then a pop-bubble-gum imprint. In the summer of 1970, Vincent composed, arranged and produced “O-o-h Child” for The Five Stairsteps. The Vincent connection is how the iconic soft soul hit wound up on Buddha. 

Read more: Newcity Music 

 

April 20, 1974: The Soul Train theme song "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)" by MFSB (featuring The Three Degrees) hits number 1 in America.

Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff got some things done in the early ’70s. They launched Philadelphia International Records, the first soul label ever to really challenge Motown’s commercial dominance. 

 

They developed their production style, an opulent and richly orchestrated take on soul music that effectively changed the sound of the genre. They turned veteran journeyman nightclub acts into bona fide stars. They wrote and produced massive hits like Billy Paul’s “Me And Mrs. Jones” and the O’Jays’ “Love Train.” 

They paved the way for disco. And as an encore, they wrote the theme song to the greatest black-music TV show of all time and created a mostly-instrumental #1 hit for their studio session musicians. That’s a hell of a run. “TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)” sounds like victory. 

Read more: Stereogum


April 20, 2020: Homebound during the coronavirus pandemic, Willie Nelson stages the "Come And Toke It" live stream to support efforts to legalize marijuana and free those incarcerated for it. 

Willie Nelson, country’s patron saint of marijuana, hosts a livestreamed variety show dubbed “Come and Toke It” on April 20th, or 4/20, the unofficial weed holiday.


The stoner special, Nelson’s fourth installment in his self-isolation Luck Reunion livestreams, will feature musical guests, comedians, chefs, and cannabis experts “all from the comfort of quarantine,” as well as Nelson himself, who promises to partake in the festivities. 

Read more: Rolling Stone

 

Lady Madonna
The Beatles

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