Lionel Richie Claims “I Didn’t Want to Leave the Commodores”

From my earliest childhood memories, I was a fan of the Commodores. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the first concert I ever attended was when the Commodores came to the Macon Coliseum in 1980. Dressed in white jumpsuits with sequins, the concert lighting caused them to dazzle and sparkle as they moved on stage. There was something magical not only about how they looked, but their music, as well. They certainly left an impression on me that has lasted until this day.

Throughout the 70s, the Commodores were one of the most sought after bands in the world. Their brand of pop-infused funk proved to be a successful formula, and their continuous airplay over the radio was the proof. Sold out stadiums and venues everywhere was further evidence. With such hits as Brick House, Easy, Sail On, 3 Times a Lady, Still, and Just to be Close To You, they were well on their way to becoming the “Black Beatles”, as founding member, Thomas McClary, would go on to say.

Sadly; however, like the Beatles, the magic wouldn’t last as the group would eventually lose one of their lead vocalists, Lionel Richie, to a solo career (and a quite successful one at that). I, for one, was devastated and held this against Lionel Richie for years. Not knowing the full story, I did my best not to like his music, and I tried to overlook the success he found away from the group. Quite frankly, I did everything I could to prevent myself from hearing anything about him or his success. I felt like he was a traitor!

While speculations have long run rampant as to why the breakup really occurred, Richie gives an interesting perspective on what happened in the video below titled “The Stab in the Heart” that broke up the Commodores. Though his commentary is gut-wrenching at times, the passion in his voice will lead you to believe that he never wanted to leave the band in the first place. And for me personally, it also clarifies it in a way that makes me sorry for blaming him for all of these years. I can now certainly appreciate his music accomplishments since leaving the Commodores in a more sincere way.

In all, the Commodores have scored seven #1 hits on the R&B charts, while Three Times a Lady, and Still are the only records to make #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. They have gone on to sell over 75 million records worldwide, while Richie, himself, has sold over 100 million records worldwide. He has also reached #1 five times with such great songs as Endless Love (duet with Diana Ross), All Night Long, Hello, Say You Say Me, and Truly. Richie has received five Grammy Awards, as well.

Finally, I am one of the longtime fans that still holds out hope for a reunion. And while it appears that longtime pals Richie and McClary are open to the possibility, there is apparently some work to do in convincing all of the others.

Were you a fan of the Commodores? What was your favorite song? Did you have a chance to see them in concert with Lionel Richie? Be sure to comment and let me know.

You may also like Thomas McClary’s interview below.

Boy Band Mania!

The Beatles may have been first, but during the 80s and certainly through the 90s, Boy Band Mania took over. Perhaps it started with the New Kids on the Block, or maybe New Edition, but the 90s saw rise to such powerhouses as the Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Boyz ll Men and All-4-One. Their popularity, no doubt, has paved the way for other very successful boy bands such as the Jonas Brothers, One Direction, and 98 Degrees to follow.

From a worldwide album sales, the Backstreet Boys run away with total album sales eclipsing 100 million. New Kids on the Block and NSYNC both have over 70 million. Boyz ll Men checks in with over 34 million and and All-4-One closes out the group with 22 million sales worldwide.

If we’re talking about Grammy Awards; however, that’s not close either. Boyz ll Men far outpaces this group with 4 Grammy Awards, while All-4-One garnered one in 1995 for their hit single “I Swear.” And though nominated, neither the Backstreet Boys, NYSNC, or New Kids on the Block have ever won a Grammy.

If we’re counting #1 hits, according to Billboard’s Hot 100, the Backstreet Boys closest sniff is a #2 with “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart) on 9.6.1997. They have gone on to have six top 10 hits overall. All-4-One has scored one #1 with their smash hit “I Swear” on 5.21.1994 to go along with three top 10s. NSYNC has barely fared better, but they did reach #1 on 7.29.2000 with “It’s Gonna Be Me”. Overall, they’ve also had six top 10 hits. The elder statesmen of the group, New Kids on the Block, have hit #1 on three occasions with I’ll Be Loving You (Forever) on 6.17.1989, Hangin’ Tough on 9.9.1989, and Step By Step on 6.30.1990. They have nine top 10 hits in all.

Boyz ll Men also outpace the other bands reaching #1 five different times. Their first #1 was “End of the Road (from Boomerang) on 8.15.1992, followed by “I’ll Make Love to You” on 8.27.1994. They also reached the pinnacle on 12.3.1994 with “On Bended Knee”, and again with “One Sweet Day” on 12.2.1995. Their last #1 came on 10.4.1997 with “4 Seasons of Lonliness. Overall, these Boyz have scored 10 top 10 hits.

So what’s your take on the boy bands? Which one is your favorite, and what is your favorite song? Be sure to comment below and let me know.

Johnny Horton: From Rockabilly to the Honky Tonk Man

From rockabilly to the “Honky Tonk Man”, it could be said of Johnny Horton that his life ended tragically and in the prime of his career. Before he departed; however, he would leave his mark on the world of music with such classic hits as “When It’s Springtime in Alaska (It’s 40 Below)”, “North to Alaska”, and “The Battle of New Orleans”, all of which would be #1 hits. The latter would garner him a Grammy Award in 1960 for Best Country and Western Recording. He would go on to have more hit songs like “Sink the Bismarck”, “Honky Tonk Man”, “Johnny Reb”, and “I’m Ready if You’re Willing”, prior to his untimely death in 1960.

Born in 1925, Horton was the youngest of five children. After graduating high school in 1944, he attended a junior college on a basketball scholarship in Texas and followed that up with a brief stint at Seattle University. He’d also go on to attend Baylor University, never graduating at either institution. During his early life, Johnny would meet his first wife, Donna Cook, while working as a mail clerk at Selznick International Pictures in California. And after a brief move to Alaska to look for gold, they moved back South to pursue a music career. He would ultimately wind up in Louisiana and appeared regularly on the Louisiana Hayride. As Horton’s career progressed, so did his touring. This hectic pace ultimately led to a divorce from his first wife. Not long afterward; however, he would meet and marry Billy Jean Jones in 1953. She was the widow of Hank Williams.

A curious story persists that tell of a time in 1960 when Horton had a premonition that his death would be caused by a drunk man. This caused a great deal of fear and trepidation for him, thus causing him to cancel an appearance at the opening of the John Wayne movie “North to Alaska. Furthermore, Horton also attempted to get out of a gig at the Skyline Club in Austin, Texas. Though he was unable to pull out of his appearance at Skyline, it is reported that he stayed in his room the whole time, when not performing, in an effort to prevent himself from being killed by a drunk patron at the bar. After the show, he kissed his wife Billy Jean on the cheek and left for Shreveport. It was on that trip when Horton and two others were involved in a head-on collision with a truck driven by drunk man. Horton died of his injuries on the way to the hospital, and the driver of the truck was ultimately charged with intoxication manslaughter. Stranger still, his wife reported to others that Horton had kissed her on the very same cheek that Hank Williams had kissed her after his final gig at the Skyline.

Interestingly, as a young boy, Horton’s bellowing from the speakers of my family’s car, aided by my dad’s matching lyrics word for word, drove me crazy. “Yuck!” “Arghhhh!” “Turn it off”, I’d quip. Dad would never hear me, though, he was too busy singing. In fact, he’d usually just increase the volume of the radio or his voice.

Time has a way of changing people, and I’m certainly no exception. Years after my adolescence, Horton’s unique voice and story-telling lyrics came full circle and his music must have caused me to reminisce about a simpler time in my life. Perhaps it was because I was now in the United States Air Force, separated from my mom and dad to the extent that I couldn’t just see or hug them any time I wished. Or maybe I started listening to the lyrics of his songs and understanding just how good he really was. Whatever the case, then as it is now, Johnny Horton’s music reminds me of my dad. And quite frankly, that’s why I think he’s not only a great musician, but he was probably a great guy, too.

So, what’s your favorite Johnny Horton song?

Be sure to chime in and let me know what you think of the article, and thanks in advance for stopping by!

“The Battle of New Orleans”

In 1814 we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in the town of New Orleans

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

We looked down the river and we seen the British come
And there must have been a hunnerd of ’em beatin on the drum
They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring
We stood beside our cotton bales ‘n’ didn’t say a thing

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Old Hickory said we could take ’em by surprise
If we didn’t fire our muskets till we looked ’em in the eye
We held our fire ’till we seed their faces well
Then we opened up the squirrel guns and really gave em
Well we

Fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Yeah they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

We fired our cannon till the barrel melted down
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round
We filled his head with cannonballs and powered his behind
And when we touched the powder off the gator lost his mind

We fired our guns and the British kept a-comin’
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago
We fired once more and they began to runnin’
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Yeah they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ’em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico

Hup, 2, 3, 4
Sound off, 3, 4
Hup, 2, 3, 4
Sound off, 3, 4
Hup, 2, 3, 4
Sound off, 3, 4