Sunday, June 16, 2024

WE REMEMBER: Musician Michael Wycoff Dies (Zhane’s ‘Hey Mr DJ’ Sampled His ‘Looking Up to You)

michael wycoff - love conquers all - album cover

*(Via SoulTracks.com) – While never breaking out as a crossover artist, keyboardist and vocalist Michael Wycoff developed a following as a result of three solid albums he released in the early 80s and a minor hit that was later sampled as part of a major hit. And his music continued to be discovered by new music fans, more than three decades after his commercial peak. We are sad to inform SoulTrackers that Mr. Wycoff has died, causes undisclosed.

Wycoff first came to the attention of audiences through his participation as a background vocalist on Stevie Wonder’s landmark Songs in the Key of Life album in 1976.  He worked over the next several years on albums by Natalie Cole and 7th Wonder before being signed by RCA Records’ fledgling Black Music division in 1980 (around the time of their signings of other acts such as Evelyn “Champagne” King and Tavares).

Wycoff’s RCA 1981 debut album, Come To My World, spun off two minor hits, “Feel My Love” and “One Alone,” but failed to chart.  The next year, Wycoff worked with producer Webster Lewis and a group of top notch musicians, including drummer James Gadson and vocalists Gary Taylor, Tawatha Agee and Fonzi Thorton, for Love Conquers All, a strong but underappreciated album that squeaked onto the Soul charts but bore no immediate hits, though it had a number of appealing tracks.  However, a decade later, one of the album’s cuts, the midtempo “Looking Up to You,” was sampled in Zhane’s “Hey Mr. DJ” and found a second life, becoming a much sought-after steppers’ classic.  It created an underground market for Love Conquers All that continues to this day.

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Unfortunately, like many other talented artists of the 80s, Wycoff succumbed to addiction to drugs and alcohol.  His addiction ultimately caused him the loss of his career, his home and his family, and Wycoff ended up homeless.  At the bottom, he found his way back through his faith, beating his habit and ultimately becoming Minister of Music at several Los Angeles area churches, telling his story of fame, loss and ultimate redemption to young people.

Get the rest of this story at SoulTracks.com.

 

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