Mary Wells, born on May 13, 1943, was one of the early voices of Motown. She was Motown’s first female solo superstar. Her first hit “Bye Bye Baby” was recorded in 1960 when she was only 17 years old. Wells had a string of hits during her four years with Motown. She left the label over royalty disputes. Wells had a few more hits with other record labels.
In 1990, Wells was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer, which ruined her voice and forced her to quit music. The cost of medical treatments wiped out her finances. Her cancer returned and she died on July 26, 1992. Her trademark hit was “My Guy.”
More Mary Wells classics:
”Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today 2 get through this thing called life …”
Those are the first words of Purple Rain’s opening song Let’s Go Crazy.
Twenty-five years ago, eccentric superstar Prince created what many consider to be the greatest pop film soundtrack of all time. Purple Rain is an album that was as commercially successful as it was artistically innovative. It combined funk, R&B, heavy rock, and pop. It produced five hit singles, and there are only nine songs on the album!
Purple Rain influenced not only music, but fashion and censorship. Purple Rain’s “Darling Nikki” topped the Parental Music Resource Center list as the most offensive song that year. It was Prince who “inspired” the Parental Advisory stickers on albums.
Purple Rain was released on June 25, 1984 and by August, it was Number 1 on the album chart, the singles chart, and in movie theaters. The movie – conceived by, staring, and revolving around Prince, was a multi-tiered effort to make himself a star. And as the closing song in the film proclaims “Baby I’m A Star,” it worked!
Here are the songs, in order, on Purple Rain:
More on Prince and Purple Rain:
June 5, 2009, WNYC Soundcheck: “Songs Fit For A Prince”
This week in 1999, songs from Destiny’s Child, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, and Ricky Martin kept us dancing into the new millennium. 1999 was the year that both Christina and Ricky made their debuts on the pop charts. While Ricky Martin had been on the Spanish charts for years, it was his self-titled English-language album debut that catapulted him into super stardom. (For more on Ricky Martin go here.)
Below are the Top 5 Songs this week in 1999:
#5 “Livin’ La Vida Loca” – Ricky Martin
#4 “Genie In A Bottle” – Christina Aguilera
#3 “Last Kiss” – Pearl Jam
#2 “If You Had My Love” – Jennifer Lopez
In the #1 spot:
“Bills, Bills, Bills” – Destiny’s Child
The rock band Heart, led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, was at the top of the charts on this day in 1987 with “Alone.” Along with a successful recording career, the Wilson sisters were instrumental in the Seattle music scene by establishing their Bad Animals recording studio. R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, and Candlebox have all recorded there.
“Crazy On You” (Nancy rocks on the guitar!)
Other Heart classics:
“All I Want To Do Is Make Love To You”
Today, the world said a final goodbye to Michael Jackson. I was able to view the memorial service on the big screen in a movie theatre in New York City. No matter what negative opinions people had of Michael Jackson or how much the media liked to poke fun of him in hurtful ways, it didn’t matter today. I am not defending any of his questionable behaviors, but I first blame Michael’s own father and the gold-digging parents of those kids more than him, the supposed perpetrator. And since there wasn’t enough evidence, I guess we’ll never really know what did or did not happen. But I digress. Celebrating the life of Michael, and not judging, was the purpose of today’s farewell. He sure meant a great deal to a lot of people. That was obvious. He clearly opened the door for and inspired a great many musical artists, and some of them were there to pay their respects by singing for him.
Yes, he was a legend, a marvelous dancer, songwriter, and singer but what became especially clear to everyone today was that he was human. He was also one of those artists whose songs changed with the times. For example, Heal The World and Earth Song addressed his concerns for the current state of our world and our environment.
Those who knew him personally emphasized that he was a real man with feelings, fears, and a good and generous heart, and that he was good friend. And to those who will suffer the loss of Michael the most – his children- he was Daddy. We saw him in different roles – an icon, a pioneer in music and video, but not as someone’s father. It wasn’t until the last 30 seconds of the memorial that it became clear, really clear. His 11-year-old daughter Paris took the microphone and said that her Daddy was the best father you could imagine and that she loved him – so much. It was a defining moment.
One of The Jacksons’s first songs was “I’ll Be There.” And it seems that Michael was “there” for his friends and for his fans throughout his life. Eventually, the man, who apparently was so so gentle and generous to so many people, had to ask a question of the world in a another song “Will You Be There,” where he tells the listener what we were reminded of today. Michael states, “But I’m only human.”
Michael Jackson – Pepsi Commercial 1988 (4 parts) (“Bad”)
with Alfonso Ribeiro and The Jacksons (“Billie Jean”)