Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1984 Huey Lewis And The News Walking On A Thin Line

1983 Huey Lewis and the News – Walking On A Thin Line

Hugh Anthony Cregg III was born in New York City and grew up near San Francisco. He became an accomplished harmonica player and also sang with the band Slippery Elm in the late sixties.

In 1971, he joined the band Clover and Hugh began using the name Hughie Louis. The band recorded a pair of albums in England with producer Mutt Lange, but they were unsuccessful. The albums credited the singer as Huey Louis but showed the name H. Cregg on songwriting credits.

In 1978, Bluesy Huey Lewis played harmonica on a Thin Lizzie album, after which he formed Huey Lewis and The American Express with some musicians from Clover and other local groups. The band released a disco version of Exodus released as Exodisco using the name American Express. Bob Brown became the group’s manager, and he encouraged them to change their name to Huey Lewis and the News to avoid potential problems with the credit card company.

In late 1980, the band released their first album, Huey Lewis and The News. While sales were a disappointment, their video for their lead single, Some of My Lies Are True (Sooner Or Later), got some airplay on MTV when the cable channel premiered the next year.

Their second album produced the top-ten single Do You Believe In Love and three singles that simply came and went. It was their third album in 1983 that turned the group into international superstars. Sports spawned four consecutive top ten singles: Heart and SoulI Want A New DrugThe Heart Of Rock And Roll, and If This Is It.

Perhaps they went a single too far, or maybe it was the unhappy subject matter of the next release, but their fifth single from the album did not fare as well as the first four singles. Walking On A Thin Line was about the challenges and struggles of Vietnam era soldiers. The single only reached #18 on the Hot 100 in late 1984.

Their next single came from the soundtrack of Back To The Future. The Power Of Love became the group’s first #1 record. The top forty singles kept coming through 1991. After that, the group only found success on the Adult Contemporary chart, racking up four top ten singles and a pair of records that peaked somewhere in the twenties.

At least four of the original members of the group continued to tour with a few replacements for those who  left the group over the years. Touring was halted in 2018 when Huey developed hearing loss from  Ménière’s disease.

The band released an album of new tracks in 2020, all of which were recorded before Huey’s hearing loss.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huey_Lewis_and_the_News
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huey_Lewis_and_the_News_discography

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1982 Joan Jett And The Blackhearts – Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)

1982 Joan Jett And The Blackhearts – Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)

Joan Marie Larkin grew up near Philadelphia and later near Baltimore. She began playing guitar when she turned 13. Her family moved to California and when her parents divorced, Joan changed her name to Joan Jett since that sounded more like a rocker’s name.

Joan was 17 when she and drummer Sandy West recruited Lita Ford and two more young women and formed the first successful female hard rock band, The Runaways. The group found success primarily in Japan and Europe but did not sell many records in the US.

After the Runaways finally disintegrated in 1979, Joan settled in England and began recording songs for a solo album. Paul Cook and Steve Jones, two members of The Sex Pistols, played on three of those recordings. One of them was a cover of a song by the Arrows that Joan had seen on British television: I Love Rock And Roll. They placed her first recording of the song on the B-side of a single that did not do well.

Joan moved back to LA to work on a movie project that was never completed. During the filming, she met producer Kenny Laguna. When the film project faded without being completed, the two of them relocated to New York and work on Joan’s solo album picked up again.  Ariola Records entitled the album Joan Jett and released it in Europe in early 1980.

Joan and Kenny tried to find a record label willing to release the album in the US, but 21 different companies turned them down. They finally started their own record label and literally sold copies of the album out of the trunk of Kenny’s car at her concerts in the US.

In order to tour and support the album, Joan needed a backup band. She ran an ad in The LA Weekly that sought “three good men,” and the musicians who passed the auditions became the Blackhearts (although they replaced the drummer after their first tour).

After some success touring through most of 1980, they convinced Neil Bogart of Casablanca Records to create a new label to distribute their first album. They re-titled the album Bad Reputation and issued it on Boardwalk Records. They released the title track as a single that missed the Hot 100 but reached #48 on the US Mainstream Rock chart.

The group recorded a second album. The title track was a new recording of I Love Rock And Roll and sales exploded and the single topped both the Hot 100 and the US Mainstream Rock chart in 1982. The success of the record allowed the group to create a video for Bad Reputation that showed the group being turned down by a stream of record companies.

The group issued five more singles in 1982. The follow-up single was Crimson And Clover, which reached the top ten of both charts.

To help promote their first album, their next single was a recording from that album. Do You Wanna Touch Me stalled at #20 on the Hot 100 and #21 on the US Mainstream Rock chart.

The next two singles from the second album failed to chart. The third (a cover of Summertime Blues) only charted on the US Mainstream Rock chart, where it peaked at #24.

The group would not have another big hit until the top ten single I Hate Myself For Loving You came out in 1988.

They inducted Joan Jett and the Blackhearts into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2015.

The members of the Blackhearts have changed over time, but Joan and her band have continued to perform at live concerts. The group is tentatively scheduled to tour in 2021 with  Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, and Poison.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Jett
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Jett_discography

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1981 Dottie West With Kenny Rogers – What Are We Doin’ In Love

1981 Dottie West With Kenny Rogers – What Are We Doin’ In Love

Dorothy Marie Marsh was the oldest of ten children in a very poor family that lived near McMinnville, Tennessee. She sang and played guitar in her high school band and worked at her mother’s restaurant to help the family financially.

After graduation, she moved to Cleveland, Ohio. She and Kathy Dee sang country music as the Kay-Dots on the Landmark Jamboree television show. She recorded several unsuccessful singles beginning in 1959 and moved to Nashville in 1961.

Dottie recorded her first top forty Country single in 1963 and routinely reached the charts with her records for nearly twenty years.

In 1973, Dottie co-wrote a jingle for use in a Coca-Cola Commercial. Billy Davis worked for the McCann-Erickson Advertising and had previously produced Coca-Cola ads for them, including the jingle that became the song I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony). He produced Dottie’s jingle, and they also recorded it as a full-length song that became the title track for her album that year. Country Sunshine peaked at #2 on the Country chart and crossed over and reached #49 on the Hot 100 and #37 on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart.

While Dottie was recording the single Every Time Two Fools Collide in 1977, Kenny Rogers wandered into the studio and started singing along. They eventually recorded the song as a duet that easily topped the Country chart the next year. It was the first of several hit duets the pair recorded.

Dottie’s next visit to the Hot 100 came in 1980. Her first #1 Country hit was A Lesson In Leaving, which also reached #73 on the Hot 100. Country singer Jo Dee Messina covered the song and her version peaked at #2 on the Country chart and also reached #28 on the Hot 100.

The last time Dottie and Kenny recorded together came in 1981. They released What Are We Doing In Love with only Dottie’s name on the label and the photo jacket for the single, but Kenny was clearly part of the recording. The two often sang the song together in live concerts. The record reached #1 on the Country chart and #14 on the Hot 100, becoming the last time Dottie reached the Hot 100.

Two more of Dottie’s singles peaked at #16 on the Country chart in 1981, but after that she had little success with her single releases. She continued to perform in concerts, but a series of financial mishaps left her deep in debt to the IRS and struggling with bankruptcy.

Dottie was riding in a car that went off the road on her way to a show at the Opry in 1991. Although she appeared to be okay at first, she had received injuries that killed her within a few days despite multiple operations. Dottie was only 58 years old.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dottie_West
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dottie_West#Discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/What_Are_We_Doin%27_in_Love

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1980 Ali Thomson – Take A Little Rhythm

1980 Ali Thomson – Take A Little Rhythm

Ali Thomson was born in Scotland in 1959. His older brother Doug was in several bands, first The Alan Brown Set and then Supertramp, and that encouraged Ali to pursue his own career in music. He sang and played piano in a few regional bands before moving to London in the mid-seventies.

Ali began working in the office of Mountain Records and eventually stepped up to a job as a songwriter. Doug set up an audition for Ali with A&M Records, and Ali moved to California and began recording a solo album. The title track was Take A Little Rhythm. They released the song as a single in the Summer of 1980. It reached #15 on the Hot 100 and did even better on the Adult Contemporary (AC) chart, where it got as high as #4. The record also reached #12 in the UK.

The second single from his album was Live Every Minute. The single peaked at #39 on the AC chart, but only reached #42 on the Hot 100. Ali recorded a second album in 1981, but it doesn’t look like A&M Records was confident enough to even release any singles from the album.

Ali continued to write songs that other artists recorded, including songs by Gary Wright.

In 2020, Ali released a CD in Japan that included ten new recordings and a new version of Take A Little Rhythm. The CD is now also available from his homepage, http://alithomson.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ali_Thomson
https://www.allmusic.com/artist/ali-thomson-mn0000004047

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1979 Ian Matthews – Shake It

1979 Ian Matthews – Shake It

Ian Matthews MacDonald grew up mostly in Lincolnshire, England, and went to work for a local painting and decorating first as an apprentice sign-writer in the early sixties. He also sang with a few local bands before moving to London and getting a job at a shoe shop.

In 1966, Ian formed the band Pyramid with Steve Hiatt and Al Jackson. Steve wrote the song The Summer Of Last Year, which the group successfully recorded as a surf music single. Sadly, nothing much came from the venture.

Fairport Convention recruited Ian as a singer in late 1967. Ian remained a member of the band during the recording of their first two albums, but he and the band parted ways after Ian sang on one of the songs for their third album. The rest of the band wanted to move into singing more traditional English folksongs while Ian wanted to focus on singer/songwriter tunes, and it became difficult to work through their differences. There must have been few hard feelings over the split since several of the members of the band worked on some of Ian’s future albums. Ian began using the name Ian Matthews because of the rising prominence of the King Crimson musician Ian McDonald.

With the help of an assortment of studio musicians, Ian recorded his first solo album, Matthews’ Southern Comfort. To support the album, he recruited a group of musicians. His intent with the album name was to identify a solo album named Southern Comfort, but everybody seemed to think the album was the name of the band, so he named the band Matthews Southern Comfort (without the apostrophe). After a few lineup changes, the band stabilized and recorded a second album.

In June 1970 the band went into the BBC’s studio to record a “live” performance, and when they arrived, they were informed that they would be playing four songs. The group only had three songs prepared, so they quickly worked up a soft rock harmony arrangement of Joni Mitchell’s song, Woodstock. Crosby, Stills, and Nash had a minor hit with the song that reached #11 on the US Hot 100, but their version was not getting much airplay in the UK. Thanks to the BBC appearance, there was a demand for the Matthews Southern Comfort version, so they recorded a single and released it in the UK and most of Europe. The record spent three weeks at the top of the UK record chart and also reached #23 on the US Hot 100 in 1971. After that, Ian disbanded the group to begin work on solo projects again.

In 1971, Ian recorded two albums. He then joined the group Plainsong and recorded another album in 1972. After Plainsong fell apart, Ian recorded his next solo album with Michael Nesmith of the Monkees as his producer. The standout cut on the album was a cover of the Steve Young song, Seven Bridges Road. The Eagles recorded a live version of the song using a nearly identical arrangement seven years later.

Ian finally had another hit in 1978. He released Shake It, and the single peaked at #13 on the Hot 100 that year. Ian has been prolific, and estimates that he has performed on over 200 albums during his career. He has taken part in revivals of several groups and appears to have been a member of at least eight distinct groups.

In 1988, Ian began using the name Iain Matthews.

In 2000, Ian permanently moved to Amsterdam, and he has continued recording music and appearing live as recently as 2019.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iain_Matthews
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairport_Convention
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthews_Southern_Comfort

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1978 Chris Rea – Fool If You Think It’s Over

1978 Chris Rea – Fool If You Think It’s Over

Chris Rea grew up in England, the son of a man who ran an ice cream factory. Unlike most musicians we investigate, Chris didn’t even own his first guitar until he was at least 21 years old. He practiced playing slide guitar and when the chance came to join a band…he turned it down since the cost of joining the band would exceed the income he could make playing in it. Instead, he kept working with ice cream.

Chris finally joined a band in 1973 and formed his own band, The Beautiful Losers, a few months later. He did not initially plan to be a singer, but after filling in for a vocalist who didn’t show up for practice, Chris began singing after all. In 1974 he recorded his first singleSo Much Love. His band broke up in 1977, after which Chris recorded his first album.

The results were dismal.

Elton John’s producer, Gus Dungeon, was brought in to produce a second try at the album, and he completed Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? in 1978. The first single from the album failed to gain any traction in England, but Fool If You Think It’s Over peaked at #12 on the US Hot 100. The single also topped the Adult Contemporary chart in the US. The record company re-issued the single in England after the success in the US, but the second try still couldn’t get the record any higher than #30 on the UK chart. The title song from the album became the next single, but it only reached #71 in the US.

Chris released his second album in 1978. The single Diamonds had identical results in both the UK and the US: it stopped at #44 on each chart. His career was essentially over in the US, but he continued to perform in the UK and Europe and built up enough of a following to have million selling albums and score over a dozen top forty singles and at least one top ten tune.

Strangely, Chris may be best remembered long-term because of a snowy night in England. When he and his wife were driving home in a snowstorm, he worked up the lyrics for the song that became Driving Home For Christmas in 1978. He wrote the song for Van Morrison, but never even got to sing the song to him. He began singing the song in live appearances during the Holiday seasons, and Chris finally recorded and released the song in 1988. He included it on a Christmas EP and it charted at #53. Christmas songs being as special as they are, the song began charting in the UK top forty every year beginning in 2007. It has reached as high as #11 in the UK and has already reached the top ten in several other countries.

Chris met Joan in 1968 when they were still teenagers, and they are still married, a rare success story for a musician.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Rea
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Rea_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_Home_for_Christmas

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Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1977 Dave Mason – We Just Disagree

1977 Dave Mason – We Just Disagree

Dave Mason first rose to prominence when he was one of the four founding members of Traffic. Dave played sitar on the band’s first singlePaper Sun. He wrote and sang lead on the group’s second singleHole In My Shoe, which peaked at #2 on the UK chart.

Dave left the band after as the band released their first album, so he did not tour with the band to support the album. He rejoined the group a few months later when Traffic began recording their second album. He wrote four of the songs on the album, including the single Feeling Alright, which didn’t perform well for Traffic but later became a significant hit for Joe Cocker.

Dave left the band again when the second album was completed and toured with Delaney and Bonnie and Friends in 1969-1970. After that tour, he worked with a group named Family and released the single Just For You and an album.

He then recorded an album with Mama Cass and also recorded his first solo album in 1970. His single Only You Know And I Know reached #42 on the Hot 100 in 1970.

He briefly returned to Traffic and toured with the band and took part in some live recordings before permanently leaving the group in 1971.

In the mid-seventies, Dave began touring with a group that included guitar-player Jim Krueger. Dave eventually recorded an album with his backup band. He released one of the songs that Jim had written, We Just Disagree, as a single. The record peaked at #12 on the Hot 100 in 1977.

Dave’s last visit to the top forty came the next year when his cover version of Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow reached #39 on the Hot 100.

In 1994, Dave joined Fleetwood Mac for a brief time. He toured with the group and took part in the recording of the 1995 album Time. Shortly after that, Fleetwood Mac disbanded, and Dave did not rejoin the group when it reformed in 1996.

Dave’s most recent album came out in 2014, and he continued to tour as recently as 2018.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Mason

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