1970 The Assembled Multitude – Overture From Tommy
The Who released arguably the first Rock Opera in 1969 when the double album Tommy came out. In an effort to promote the album to AM radio stations who were unlikely to play album cuts, Decca sent a special boxed-set of four promotional 45 rpm singles of some songs from the album to radio stations. Ironically, the single that eventually reached #12 on the Hot 100 (See Me, Feel Me) was not on those records.
The album sold extremely well and Tommy got a lot of airplay on Rock stations, but the biggest hit from the rock opera came from a group of studio musicians in Philadelphia.
Record producer Tom Sellers recruited studio musicians to record an album of instrumental versions of current pop hits in 1970. He named the group The Assembled Multitude, and the covers on the album included Woodstock, Ohio, McArthur Park, While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The only single from the group that reached the top forty of the Hot 100 was Overture From Tommy (A Rock Opera). It reached #16 in 1970.
Many of the studio musicians who played on the album became members of MFSB, the house band for the Philadelphia International label’s Sigma Sound Studios. The musicians worked closely with recordings by the production team of Gamble and Huff and producer/arranger Thom Bell. In addition to recording their own hit singles, that band also backed up Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the O’Jays, the Stylistics, the Spinners, and many other artists.
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