On this day 47 years ago, Billy Preston scored the first of his two number one hits on Billboard’s Hot 100.
“Will It Go Round in Circles,” from his second album “Music Is My Life,” released in 1972, was written by Preston and Bruce Fisher. This was also Preston’s first chart topper as a solo artist. As a killer session keyboardist in the 60s, the Los Angeles native has played on No. 1 hits for the likes of Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Rev. James Cleveland and the Beatles, where he played on “Let it Be” and became the only non-Beatle to ever be credited on a Beatles recording for his contribution to “Get Back,” which reached No. 1 in 1969. Preston was famously referred to as “The Fifth Beatle.”
On January 30, 1969, the Beatles, with keyboardist Preston, surprised a central London office district with an impromptu concert from the roof of Apple headquarters at 3 Savile Row. Listen to his keyboard work below:
Preston was briefly signed to the Fab Four’s Apple Records but didn’t find solo success until he switched to A&M Records. His first album there, “I Wrote A Simple Song,” yielded the Grammy Award-winning instrumental “Outa-Space.”
Preston’s second and final No. 1 single, “Nothing from Nothing,” would come with his third A&M album, “The Kids and Me,” released in 1974.
Preston had suffered kidney disease in his later years and received a kidney transplant in 2002, but his health continued to deteriorate. During a voluntarily stint in a drug rehab clinic in Malibu, he suffered pericarditis, leading to respiratory failure that left him in a coma from November 21, 2005. Preston died on June 6, 2006, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
RADIOSCOPE RAW Podcast: Our Uncut 1989 Interview with Kool Moe Dee
*Episode 5 of the Radioscope Raw podcast features our Spring 1989 interview with rapper Kool Moe Dee.
The emcee and former member of the Treacherous Three was among hip hop’s most successful artists, with the singles “How You Like Me Now” and “Wild Wild West” having saturated urban radio two years prior.
In our interview, Kool Moe Dee (the Moe Dee short for his real name Mohandas Dewese) spoke to us about a wide range of topics, including an exchange about systemic racism and police brutality that could’ve happened yesterday, a very strong opinion on Robin Givens wanting half of ex-husband Mike Tyson’s fortune in their divorce (which inspired the album’s single “They Want Money”), and an extended dissection of his beef with LL Cool J.
“Our whole little conflict started because I felt his ego was out of hand,” he told us, adding that his frustration with LL stemmed from an opinion that the Queens rapper “never left you with any knowledge. His whole thing was like enticing the females, taking off his shirt, humping the couch and things like that, and he never went to another level. When you have that type of impact on kids, I think it’s extremely important to let them walk away with something, walk away with something inspiring.”
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.
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