*It’s been 11 years since the death of Michael Jackson screeched the world to a halt and sent fans into a lengthy haze of disbelief. To honor the King of Pop’s impact on music, here’s an EUR Video Throwback celebrating some of his most memorable moments.
We’re talking strictly music, though. Yes, there are the numerous awards, the cringy on-stage kiss with his newlywed Lisa Marie Presley, that time he stood on top of an SUV outside the courthouse, his hair going up in flames, dangling Blanket from a balcony, the molestation accusations, coming to court in pajamas, the unsettling Martin Bashir interview… While those were indeed memorable pitstops in his career, we’re focusing 100 percent on the music, and narrowing it down to just a handful of moments from the countless throughout his career.
It has to start with this pivotal July 3, 1968 audition for Motown founder Berry Gordy, Without this performance, his future iconic moments would cease to exist.
“You Can’t Win,” from The Wiz (1978)
His first hit and video after leaving his brothers and going solo, “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” (1979)
His introduction of the one glove, glittered socks and moonwalk on “Motown 25: Yesterday, Today, Forever” – NBC (May 16, 1983)
That time James Brown called MJ to the stage at the Beverly Theatre in Hollywood, and then MJ, in turn, told JB to call Prince up, too. As the story goes, The Godfather had no idea The Purple One was also in the crowd. (Aug. 20, 1983)
Crafting “Thriller” (1983). It would become (and still is) the biggest selling album of all time. The 13-minute short film for the title track pushed the envelope for music videos. It revolutionized the production values, choreography and storylines, and established MTV as a cultural staple when the channel aired the Dec. 2, 1983 premiere.
Co-writing the all-star charity single, and fastest selling single of all time, “We Are The World” (1985)
Performing the Super Bowl 27 Halftime Show (1993)
Being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Twice.
With the Jackson 5 (1997)
As a Solo Act (2001)
His final performance, rehearsing “Earth Song” in Los Angeles for the upcoming “This Is It” tour on June 24, 2009, less than 24 hours before his death at age 50.
The Supremes Made History When This Album Hit No. 1 on Oct. 22, 1966 [EUR Video Throwback]
*Fifty-four years ago today, The Supremes made history as the first girl group to score a No. 1 album in the United States.
Their ninth studio LP, “The Supremes A’ Go-Go, was released by Motown on August 25, 1966 with two tracks that hit the Top 10 on the Hot 100 chart.
The first was the No. 9 hit “Love is Like an Itching in My Heart.” written and produced by Motown’s main production team of Holland–Dozier–Holland, and featuring instrumentation by The Funk Brothers. With Diana Ross on lead and background vocals from Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard, the song was one of their few that did not reach No. 1.
Released in April 1996, the track about being “bitten by the love bug” and not being able to scratch the itch peaked at No. 9 for one week in May of 1966.
The second release from “The Supremes A’ Go-Go,” on July 25, 1966, was the No. 1 classic “You Can’t Hurry Love,” also written and produced by Motown’s house writers Holland–Dozier–Holland.
According to AllMusic, “You Can’t Hurry Love” was based on the 1950s gospel tune “(You Can’t Hurry God) He’s Right on Time,” written by Dorothy Love Coates of The Original Gospel Harmonettes. Her lyrics included: “You can’t hurry God/you just have to wait/Trust and give him time/no matter how long it takes.”
Songwriter Lamont Dozier said, according to Songfacts.com, “We were trying to reconstruct ‘Come See About Me’ and somehow it turned into ‘You Can’t Hurry Love.’ It was basically a gospel feel we were after.”
The song is housed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s permanent collection of 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll. It was such a huge hit that Motown head Berry Gordy had The Supremes cut an Italian version, “L’amore verrà” (“Love Will Come”).
On the strength of its two hit singles, “The Supremes A’ Go-Go” unseated the Beatles album “Revolver” at No. 1 on Oct. 22, 1966, and stayed on the Billboard album chart for 60 weeks, selling more than 3,500,000 copies worldwide. One million of those sales were in the U.S.
Watch a 1966 interview with The Supremes below.
How Herb Alpert’s ‘Rise’ Topped the Chart 41 Years Ago Today for All the Wrong Reasons (EUR Video Throwback)
*Some people of a certain age hear the 1979 instrumental “Rise” by Herb Alpert and think back no further than the 1997 image of Notorious B.I.G. and Puffy on a yacht. But there’s an entire generation of fans who, to this day, hear the song’s baseline strut and are instantly taken back to a critical scene on the soap opera “General Hospital.”
A rape scene.
On October 20, 1979, “Rise” went to No. 1 in the U.S. after it was used in a scene featuring Luke Spencer and Laura Webber, “General Hospital’s” “Luke & Laura” lovebirds whose immense popularity would explode beyond their own soap – and daytime dramas in general – to become a cultural flashpoint.
But the iconic characters, played by Genie Francis and Anthony Geary, weren’t even a couple when Geary reportedly suggested “Rise” to the show’s music director for his pivotal scene with Francis.
In fact, Laura was still with Scottie Baldwin when Luke – after Laura rebuffed his declaration of love – threw on the DJ’s record player and raped Laura on the floor of the campus disco, as “Rise” played in the background.
“General Hospital” ran this song several times a week for a short period after this scene, until writers transformed Luke and Laura into romantic lovers and made his redemption a part of their storyline.
“Rise,” written by Andy Armer and Herb’s nephew Randy “Badazz” Alpert, reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 exactly three months after its July 20, 1979 release from the album of the same name. It remained at the top for two weeks, and gave Alpert the distinction of becoming the first and only artist to score Hot 100 chart toppers with both an instrumental performance and a vocal performance (1968’s “This Guy’s in Love With You,” written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David).
“Rise” was also a fixture on Black radio in 1979, having peaked at number four on the R&B chart and number seventeen on the disco chart.
Sean “Puffy” Combs came along 18 years later and gave “Rise” new life by choosing its bass line for Biggie’s track “Hypnotize.” Released on March 1, 1997, one week before the rapper’s death in a drive by shooting, Puff’s production laced with B.I.G.’s indelible lyrics took “Rise” back to the Hot 100 summit. The original spent the entire summer of ’79 climbing the charts until that episode of “General Hospital” shoved it into the No. 1 spot on Oct. 20. Biggie’s version debuted at No. 2 and reached the pinnacle a week later.
Randy Alpert told the website songfacts.com, “I asked Puffy, in 1996 when he first called me concerning using ‘Rise’ for ‘Hypnotize,’ why he chose the ‘Rise’ groove. He told me that in the summer of 1979 when he was I think 10 years old the song was a huge hit everywhere in New York and ‘Rise’ along with Chic’s ‘Good Times’ were ‘The Songs’ that all the kids were dancing and roller skating to that summer. He had always remembered that summer and that song. When he first played the loop for Biggie, Biggie smiled and hugged him.”
Randy Alpert continued: “Over the years I was approached by Ice Cube, Easy E, Vanilla Ice, and maybe another 4-5 artists to use the song and I never said yes until I heard a rough version of Biggie’s recording. I was sent a cassette from Puffy and when I cranked it up I not only immediately loved it but my gut thought that this could be a #1 record once again.”
While “Hypnotize” wasn’t the only record to sample “Rise,” it was by far the most successful.
Monica used the groove on “I’m Back” from her 2002 album “All Eyez on Me.”
And Bell Biv DeVoe sampled the groove in their 2016 single “Run,” the trio’s first track in 14 years.
RADIOSCOPE RAW Podcast: Our Uncut 1989 Interview with Gladys Knight and the Pips
*Episode 4 of the Radioscope Raw podcast features our 1989 interview with Gladys Knight and the Pips.
The group had just signed with MCA Records to release their final album, 1988’s All Our Love. It included the singles “Lovin’ On Next to Nothin'” and their Grammy-winner “Love Overboard.”
In the four years before leaving Columbia and signing with MCA, Knight flirted with Hollywood, starring in the sitcom “Charlie and Co.” and several TV movies. She also joined Stevie Wonder, Dionne Warwick and Elton John in 1985 for the anthem “That’s What Friends Are For.”
Our RadioScope writer sat down with Gladys and her brother Bubba Knight of the Pips to talk about their 35 years in the business, Gladys’ approach to acting and their last album as a group before the Empress of Soul embarked on her epic solo career.
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