By Phill Marder
This is the 16th set of 10 selections in The Goldmine Hall of Fame.
Great Blogs Of Fire will be announcing 10 inductees approximately every two weeks until all 700-plus inductees are announced. Bios of all selections and criteria for induction can be found on our website by clicking the Goldmine Hall of Fame tab. A running list of all announced inductees will be listed, also. These also can be found under “Great Blogs Of Fire” at the bottom of the page.
151. KOOL & THE GANG – Still performing today, New Jersey’s Kool & the Gang have gone through many changes since their 1964 formation. Originally the Jazziacs, the band started, as its name implies, as a Jazz group. But commercial success proved elusive until the ‘80s. By that time, the band had evolved into a funk/smooth soul group.
Though the band had had many charting albums and singles, including back-to-back top 10 singles, “Jungle Boogie” in 1973 and “Hollywood Swinging” in 1974, it took 1979’s album, “Ladies’ Night,” to provide the breakthrough. The LP rode the back of the group’s first big hit single, the album’s title cut which hit top 10 in both the U.S. and U.K. This success coincided with the addition of lead singer James J.T. Taylor, who became the voice of Kool & The Gang as it became an ‘80s behemoth.
Between 1980 and 1986, the band planted six straight albums in the U.S. top 30. But the major success was on the Billboard Hot 100, where “Too Hot” climbed to #5 in 1979, “Get Down On It” hit #10 in 1981, “Joanna” reached #2 in 1983, a finish matched by 1985’s “Cherish,” and four other singles attained top 10 status in 1985 and 1986. But none matched the success of 1981’s “Celebration,” which became the group’s signature recording, reaching #1. Kool & The Gang’s success was not limited to the U.S., though, the band notching seven top 10 singles and two top 10 albums in the U.K., while being chart regulars around the globe.
The inductees are: Dennis Thomas(Sax, Flute & Vocals); Ronald Bell (Khalis Bayyan)(Sax, Flute & Vocals); Robert Mickens(Trumpet, Flugelhorn & Vocals); Claydes Smith(Guitar); Ricky West(Keyboards, Piano & Vocals); Robert “Kool” Bell(Bass & Vocals); George Brown(Drums, Percussion &Vocals); Clifford Adams(Trombone); James JT Taylor-(lead vocals); Michael Ray(Trumpet) and Curtis Williams(keyboards).
152. DOLLY PARTON – There have been many female Country music stars. But Dolly Parton is known as The Queen Of Country Music, even though her early efforts to record Country music were thwarted by her record company, which wanted the then young teen to go Pop.
Several Parton singles flopped, but her composition of “Put It Off Until Tomorrow,” recorded by Bill Phillips with Parton singing harmony, became a smash and the Tennessee youngster had her Country breakthrough. She went on to become one of the best-selling artists of all time, one of music’s most successful composers and a film and TV star to boot. Just for good measure, she even opened her own amusement park.
Parton carried music around the globe, her single “Jolene,” which topped the U.S. Country chart, spread to Europe, hitting #1 in France and #7 in the United Kingdom. She followed with two more #1 Country hits, “I Will Always Love You” and “Love Is Like A Butterfly.” Eighteen years later, Whitney Houston would record the former for the film “The Bodyguard,” the result being one of the biggest selling singles of all time. While she continued dominating the Country field, Parton became so popular her singles began crossing over to the Hot 100, “Here You Come Again” reaching all the way to #3 in 1977. Four years later, her theme from the movie in which she starred, “9 to 5,” hit #1. Her 1983 duet with Kenny Rogers, “Islands In The Stream,” also peaked at #1 and she teamed up with Emmy Lou Harris and Linda Ronstadt for some best-selling albums.
Today, Parton is one of the world’s most instantly recognizable performers. She continues to record and tour to huge and loving audiences worldwide.
153. THE COMMODORES – The Commodores rank in the all-time list of worldwide best-selling single and album artists and included a member – Lionel Richie (profiled at #101) – who is ranked even higher in both categories as a solo artist.
Twelve albums reached the top 40. Five reached the top 10. Four peaked at No. 3. Eight reached the United Kingdom top 30. Three climbed into the top 10. Seventeen singles reached the top 40. Ten reached the top 10. Two got to No. 1. Eleven reached the U.K. top 40. Five made it to the Top 10. One reached the top. They sold well over 100 million records worldwide, won Oscars and Grammys, and still today draw sold-out crowds in personal appearances. Though a true band whose rhythm section was known as “the mean machine” and whose first hit “Machine Gun,” was an instrumental, The Commodores were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003. Nine years prior, sax man Richie had been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame. Alternating between heavy funk hits such as “Brick House” and “Too Hot Ta Trot” and Richie’s impeccable ballads such as “Three Times A Lady” and “Still,” both of which hit No. 1, the Commodores rarely relinquished their hold on the charts and airwaves during the ’70s and early ’80s.
Though Richie had become the group’s prominent songwriter and voice over the years, when he left to pursue his solo career, instead of folding the Commodores responded with “Nightshift” in 1983, a tribute to Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson that soared to No. 3 in both the U.S. and U.K. and won a Grammy for “best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals.” While The Commodores failed to sustain that level of success without Richie, they did continue as a viable recording entity through the first half of the ’90s.
The inductees are: Lionel Richie (vocals & sax); Thomas McClary (vocals & guitar); Milan Williams (vocals & keyboards); Ronald LaPread (bass); William King (trumpet) & Walter Orange (vocals & drums).
154. STING – While The Commodores join their front man, Lionel Richie, on our list, front man Sting earns a solo spot after his group, The Police, came in at a lofty #26. The massive popularity of the group was reinforced on their 2007-08 reunion tour. But since 1984, Sting has been a solo artist, and one of the world’s most successful.
History may have been different if Sting’s first solo effort had flopped. But the reverse was true as 1985’s “The Dream Of The Blue Turtles” went to #1 in Australia and The Netherlands, #2 in the U.S., #3 in the United Kingdom and top 10 in France, Norway, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland. His next effort, 1987’s “Nothing Like The Sun” was no sophomore jinx, reaching #1 in Sting’s homeland U.K. and top 10 in all the above countries plus Austria. Even though he waited four years for his next offering, “The Soul Cages,” and the record yielded just one good selling single, “All This Time,” the album hit the top of the charts in the U.K., Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland, just missed at #2 in the States and Norway and scored top 10 everywhere else.
Sting’s enduring popularity showed no signs of decline during the ‘90s as three more long-players, “Ten Summoner’s Tales,” “Mercury Falling” and “Brand New Day” all dominated worldwide top 10s, each hitting #1 in various nations. 2003’s “Sacred Love” continued the run, but eventually proved to be Sting’s last massive worldwide seller, though 2009’s “If On A Winter’s Night…” and 2010’s “Symphonicities” each peaked at #6 in the U.S.
At the time of this induction, Sting remains a vital force on the entertainment scene, making numerous personal appearances and new recordings and remaining active in several social and political causes. On November 2, 2012, he appeared on “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together,” a TV special to help the American Red Cross raise funds to aid the hurricane victims.
155. THE HOLLIES – The Hollies were not much of a factor in the early British Invasion, taking until 1966 to break through big in the U.S. with the #5 “Bus Stop.” By that time, the initial wave of British bands was well established in the States. But the Manchester unit known for its unique harmony had been established in the U.K. right from the beginning, scoring a hit single in 1963, shortly after the Beatles first broke into the U.K. top 10. And the Hollies longevity has enabled them to continue to grow in success and prestige as the years have passed and many of their peers have folded.
The group’s first two hits, “Ain’t That Just Like Me” and “Searchin’” were covers of the Coasters and their third success, “Stay,” was a cover of Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs. This pattern continued even through “Bus Stop,” which was penned by future 10CC figurehead, Graham Gouldman, until The Hollies finally broke through with a major self-written smash, “Stop, Stop, Stop,” written by Allan Clarke, Tony Hicks & Graham Nash. This 1966 single hit #1 in Canada and New Zealand, #2 in Britain and top 10 around the rest of the world. The trio then hit its stride, “On A Carousel,” “Carrie Ann,” “King Midas In Reverse,” “Dear Eloise” and “Jennifer Eccles” all proving best sellers, the last being written by just Clarke and Nash.
When Nash left in 1968 to form Crosby, Stills & Nash, the hits continued for the Hollies, but, once again, the group was relying heavily on outside material. “Sorry Suzanne” was a flop in the States, but a major hit elsewhere, but its successor, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother,” was a smash everywhere and 1972’s “Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress” just missed the top in the States, while barely making a dent in the U.K. “The Air That I Breathe” proved the group’s last single to conquer the globe, though a re-release of “He Ain’t Heavy” topped the Brit charts in 1988.
Several of the Hollies’ LPs sold well in the U.K. between 1964 and 1967, but, for the most part, the group’s best-selling long players throughout the years were greatest hits’ collections.
The inductees are: Allan Clarke (vocals, guitar & harmonica); Graham Nash & Terry Sylvester (vocals & guitar); Tony Hicks (vocals & various instruments); Bobby Elliott (drums); Eric Haydock & Bernie Calvert (bass & keyboards).
156. DON HENLEY – This vocalist/drummer becomes the fourth consecutive multiple inductee following Lionel Richie (solo & the Commodores), Sting (the Police & solo) and Graham Nash (Crosby, Stills & Nash & The Hollies). Henley, of course, was/is the drummer for The Eagles, who came in at #12 in our grouping.
Henley’s output as a solo artist has been rather sparse, just four LP releases coming between 1982 and 2000. Quality over quantity, for sure. The first issue, “I Can’t Stand Still,” hit #5 in Canada, but missed the top 10 everywhere else. Two years later, the follow-up, “Building the Perfect Beast,” failed to hit the top 10 in any country in spite of four hit singles, the #5 “The Boys Of Summer,” #9 “All She Wants To Do Is Dance,” #34 “Not Enough Love In The World” and #22 “Sunset Grill.” Only the first made any impact in Britain, where Henley has yet to score a top 10 entry – single or album – in spite of the huge popularity there of The Eagles.
However, Henley’s last two albums, 1989’s “The End Of The Innocence” and 2000’s “Inside Job,” each cracked the top 10 in the U.S. and Canada. Henley also has scored well with other projects, “Who Owns This Place?” from the soundtrack “The Color Of Money” hitting #3 on the Hot 100, “Leather & Lace,” a duet with Stevie Nicks, hitting #6 and “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” a pairing with Scandal’s Patty Smyth, hitting #2 in the U.S. and #1 in Canada.
157. DUANE EDDY – When Rock & Roll began, the instrumental was a major factor on the weekly hit list. And Duane Eddy (& his Twangy guitar) was one of the primary practitioners, twanging out a steady string of hit 45s from 1958 until 1963. And those hits stretched around the world, dominating record charts across Europe, in the Pan Pacific, Canada and Latin America. Truly, Duane Eddy was a global superstar.
Eddy developed a unique style of lead guitar playing, concentrating on the bass strings, so much so that when he played the lead on B.J. Thomas’ “Rock & Roll Lullaby” most music followers knew immediately who it was even though the record was recorded in 1972, nine years after Eddy’s last hit. His first big smash occurred in 1958 when “Rebel Rouser” climbed to #6. Though billed as Duane Eddy & the Rebels, his backing group varied, usually consisting of members of The Wrecking Crew. The success of “Rebel Rouser” plus three successful follow-ups, “Ramrod,” Cannonball” and “The Lonely One,” helped Eddy’s LP “Have Twangy Guitar-Will Travel” reach #5 U.S. and #6 in Britain.
The second LP, “Especially For You,” equaled the chart placement of the first in Britain, but stopped at #24 in the U.S., still a more than respectable showing, and two more hit singles, “Peter Gunn” and “Yep!” were forthcoming. “’The Twangs’ The ‘Thang’” didn’t produce any hits, but by 1960 Eddy’s hold on the record-buying public was so established, the album still reached #18 in the U.S. and soared to #2 in Britain. Its successor, “$1,000,000.00 Worth of Twang,” had nothing but hits, reaching #10 in the U.S. and #5 in the U.K. as it included “Bonnie Came Back,” “Forty Miles Of Bad Road,” and “Because They’re Young.”
As the British Invasion swept the U.S., Eddy’s popularity waned, but he still placed six LPs on the best-seller chart between 1961 and 1964 and managed a couple hit singles. In 1975, he returned to the U.K. top 10 with “Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar” and repeated that showing 11 years later with a remake of “Peter Gunn” with The Art Of Noise.
158. THE ANIMALS – Eric Burdon fronted two distinct versions of the Animals, and each produced a career worthy of Hall of Fame induction. Of course, having Burdon’s voice up front didn’t hurt as he proved to be one of the very best of the English Invasion vocalists, which is saying a lot considering the competition.
The original band, featuring Hilton Valentine on guitar, Alan Price, then Dave Rowberry, on keyboards, Chas Chandler on bass and John Steel, then Barry Jenkins, on drums. This formation accounted for the group’s worldwide #1 smash, “House Of The Rising Sun,” which featured Price’s noted organ solo, and a steady parade of monster hits, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” reaching #3 in Britain, “Bring It On Home To Me” #1 in Sweden, “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and “It’s My Life” getting to #2 and #7, respectively, in their English homeland, “Don’t Bring Me Down” climbing to #3 in Canada followed by a Canadian #1, “See See Rider,” which saw the group disband on top.
Burdon and Jenkins stayed together as Burdon recorded a solo album, then added Vic Briggs on guitar and piano, Danny McCulloch on bass and John Weider on bass, guitar and violin. This incarnation, known as Eric Burdon & The Animals, fired out of the box with a group composition, “When I Was Young,” which rode to #2 in Australia and proved a major hit in the Netherlands and the U.S. while achieving little acceptance in Britain. This group, however, won over most skeptics with a series of classics that rivaled the original band’s, including “San Franciscan Nights,” a Canadian #1 and top 10 in most countries, including England, “Monterey” and “Sky Pilot.”
The inductees, who have reformed in various combinations over the years, include all those listed above.
159. THE PLATTERS – Not really a doowop group, The Platters, nonetheless, were part of the great era of vocal groups that blessed the airwaves in the 1950s. And their remarkable story is dotted with irony.
First recording with Federal Records, the group, which included Cornell Gunter, didn’t have much success and Gunter was replaced by Tony Williams in 1953. Gunter later would gain fame in The Coasters. Shortly after, Buck Ram took over management and brought in Zola Taylor and Paul Robi. Ram had written “Only You (And You Alone)” for the Ink Spots, but the Platters did it and Federal wouldn’t even release it. When Ram signed the Penguins, who had just produced a classic with “Earth Angel,” on the tiny Dootone label, Ram went to Mercury Records and offered the Penguins, but only if the label signed The Platters as well. The Penguins never had a hit for Mercury, but The Platters became the biggest-selling vocal group of the era, the only possible exception being The Drifters, who dominated the R&B charts but didn’t cross over big until the decade neared closing.
In another twist, The Platters’ first smash was a re-recording of “Only You (And You Alone),” which hit #5 on both sides of the Atlantic. With the operatic lead of Williams, who became one of the ‘50s premier vocalists, leading the way, there was no stopping the Platters over the next five years as they produced one classic after another, including “The Great Pretender,” “My Prayer,” “Twilight Time” and “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,” all of which reached #1 in the States. “(You’ve Got) The Magic Touch” and “Harbor Lights” also hit the U.S. top 10. During the same time period, the Platters posted five top 20 albums, a rarity for a group at that time.
Williams left for a solo career in 1960, but, despite his incredible voice, he never had a hit. The Platters replaced him with Sonny Turner with some mild success, but legal battles led to different versions of The Platters popping up all over the country.
The inductees are the mainstays who accounted for the group’s incredible catalog of ‘50s gems. They include: Tony Williams, Herb Reed, Zola Taylor, Paul Robi and David Lynch.
160. ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK – Thus far, the Goldmine Hall of Fame has inducted several vocalists popular prior to and during the Rock & Roll Era. Engelbert Humperdinck was still a teenager when Rock began, but his vocal style would have made him popular during any time period.
Born in India as Arnold George Dorsey – his father was English, his mother, Indian – Humperdinck’s career did not take off until he borrowed the name of the German opera composer known best for “Hansel & Gretel.” Once he got rolling, though, he never stopped, now ranking as one of the top selling artists worldwide of both singles and albums. The breakthrough occurred in 1967 with his recording of the 1946 tune, “Release Me (And Let Me Love Again),” which had been covered often, the most notable version coming five years earlier when Little Esther Phillips took it to U.S. #8 and #1 on the R&B charts. Humperdinck’s version bested that, going to #4 in the U.S. but hitting #1 in England, Ireland, Canada & Flanders.
To this day, Humperdinck has maintained his hold on British audiences, a best of LP released a few months back peaking at #21. After his initial smash, seven of his next nine U.K. singles hit the top 10, “The Last Waltz” climbing to #1, while “There Goes My Everything” and “A Man Without Love” each hit #2. In the States, Humperdinck had just one more top 10 entry, 1976’s “After The Lovin’” reaching #8. But his long players remained top sellers in the U.S., the U.K. and elsewhere and Humperdinck has remained a top draw as a live entertainer.
At this writing, he currently is working on a popular project of the day, an album of duets with various stars, Elton John for one.