This is the 53rd set of selections in The Goldmine Hall of Fame.
Great Blogs Of Fire will be announcing 5 inductees approximately every three 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 or by following this link – http://www.goldminemag.com/blogs/goldmine-hall-of-fame-inductees
491. TODD RUNDGREN (with Utopia)
This Upper Darby, Pennsylvania native never has had a top 10 selling album and has enjoyed just one top 10 single. But since the ‘60s, Todd Rundgren has been one of music’s most successful and respected figures in almost every facet of the industry. A major solo artist, the leader of several popular bands, the producer/engineer of some of the most popular albums of the last 50 years, a pioneer in the video industry…you name it, Rundgren has done it – and better than most.
Rundgren’s first taste of chart success came with his group Nazz, whose first album included two minor hits, “Hello, It’s Me” and “Open My Eyes.” The former, in a reworked version, became Rundgren’s biggest solo hit, reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #2 in Cashbox in 1972. The latter reappeared on the Bangles’ 2011 LP “Sweetheart Of The Sun.” Two years earlier, Rundgren had cracked the Billboard top 20 for the first time with Runt, which featured two sons of TV star Soupy Sales, Hunt and Tony. The hit, “We Gotta Get You A Woman” and “Hello It’s Me” also became hits in Canada.
In 1972, “I Saw The Light” became a major success, reaching #16 in the U.S. and doing one better in Canada. In 1976, Rundgren scored a minor hit with a cover of the Beach Boys’ classic “Good Vibrations,” and two years later “Can We Still Be Friends,” also released under Rundgren’s name, reached #29. “Hello It’s Me” and “I Saw The Light” were pulled from Rundgren’s highest charting LP, “Something/Anything?,” a double-disc set that climbed to #29. Rundgren’s next eight releases, stretching to 1992, all reached the upper half of Billboard’s Top 200 LP chart.
At the same time, Rundgren hit the album charts with 10 releases with his band, Utopia, which also posted a #27 single with 1980’s “Set Me Free.” Utopia’s lineup was solid from 1976 until 1986, Rundgren being joined by Roger Powell on keyboards, John Wilcox on drums and Kasim Sulton on bass. All contributed vocals.
492. THE MARVELETTES
The first Motown group to score a #1 record on the Billboard Hot 100, this quintet of Detroit schoolgirls became one of the most successful female vocal groups in Rock & Roll though overshadowed by stablemates Martha & the Vandellas and the Supremes.
Also a #1 success on the American R&B listing, 1961’s “Please Mr. Postman,” also had the distinction of being covered by The Beatles on their second U.K. album and also their second U.S. album. But the Marvelettes were far from one-hit wonders, recording two more Hot 100 top 10 entries and eight more singles that reached the R&B top 10 in addition to two that just missed at #11. By the time their run as hit-makers ended in 1968, the Marvelettes were firmly established as best-sellers around the world.
In 1962, the group offered its second major hit with “Playboy,” which climbed to #7 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the R&B chart. The single also established the girls in Canada, peaking at #6. Three more R&B top 10 entries followed that year, starting with “Beachwood 4-5789,” which hit #7 R&B and #17 on the big chart, the flip, “Someday, Someway” hitting #8 R&B. While “Strange I Know” wasn’t a major mainstream success, it did continue the girls’ run, peaking at R&B #10.
Numerous lineup changes occurred during the Marvelettes run and by 1964 their success was diminishing. At that juncture, a fatal decision occurred when the group chose to record “Too Many Fish In The Sea” over “Where Did Our Love Go.” While the former did ok, peaking at #15 R&B, the latter became the Supremes’ first #1, launching their career into superstar orbit. However, two years later “Don’t Mess With Bill” returned the Marvelettes to the Hot 100 top 10 at #7, also rising to #3 R&B. In 1967, “The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game” climbed to R&B #2 and “When You’re Young and In Love” made it to #9 R&B while becoming their lone U.K. success at #13. “My Baby Must Be A Magician” became their last major hit, reaching R&B #8 in 1968.
The inductees are: Wanda Young and Gladys Horton, who divided lead vocals, and Georgeanna Tillman, Katherine Anderson and Wyanetta Cowart, who performed background duties.
493. GLORIA GAYNOR
In 1978, this New Jersey vocalist promised us “I Will Survive.” That proclamation became one of Disco’s most famous and enduring anthems, hitting the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 and the U.K. and Canadian charts as well. By the time the dance classic had run its course, it also had reached top 10 status in more than a dozen other countries across Europe, Africa and South America.
Yes, Gloria Gaynor told us “I Will Survive.” But she almost didn’t as the great Disco backlash swept over North America shortly after her signature hit ran its course. Gaynor, being one of the genres biggest stars, saw her career almost crushed by the avalanche of anti-Disco sentiment. By the time she returned to the top of the Dance charts, 23 years had passed.
Originally a B-side, Gaynor’s signature recording became the first to top Billboard’s Dance Chart, which has undergone many name changes over the years, and was, in 1980, the first and only recipient of the Best Disco Recording Grammy Award. But Gaynor already was an established star by the time “I Will Survive” connected, having recorded four singles that reached the top 10 on the Dance or Disco charts prior to 1978, beginning with 1974’s “Never Can Say Goodbye,” which not only topped the Disco chart, but also came in at #2 in the U.K. and #9 on the U.S. mainstream listing. Eventually, it proved more successful than the Jackson Five original, landing in the top 10s of Canada, Holland, Belgium, South Africa and France.
“Real Good People” and “Walk On By” kept Gaynor in the Dance top 10 in 1975, which started with a cover of the Four Tops “Reach Out (I’ll Be There)” proving a European smash. “Casanova Brown” capped her year, hitting #1 on the Dance list. In 2001, she returned to the top of the Dance chart with “Just Keep Thinking About You” and the next year she again hit #1 with “I Never Knew.” In the second half of the ‘70s, Gaynor also notched six hit albums, her biggest being 1979’s “Love Tracks” which reached #4.
494. JODY WATLEY (with Jeffrey Daniel & Howard Hewett)
By the time this Chicago singer/songwriter was awarded the 1987 Grammy for “Best New Artist,” she was a well-established star, having been a vital part of the top-selling group Shalamar. When your godfather is Jackie Wilson and you’re one of the most popular dancers on Don Cornelius’ Soul Train, how can you miss?
Well, certainly it would help if you could sing, too, and Jody Watley proved that to be another strength. With Shalamar, Watley recorded albums, three of which climbed into the top 40 of the Billboard Top 200, all but the first reaching the R&B top 20. Three climbed into the R&B top 10, 1982’s “Friends” topping the chart. That LP also reached #6 in the U.K. and its follow-up, “The Look,” ran to #7. Watley left for a solo career and Shalamar, which also had posted four R&B top 10 singles, including the #1 “The Second Time Around,” continued, but its success dwindled.
Her 1987 solo debut, “Jody Watley,” ran to the top of the R&B chart and climbed to #10 on Billboard’s Top 200, providing the impetus for her Grammy award. Watley also was nominated for Best R&B Vocal Performance won by Aretha Franklin. The first single, “Looking For A Love,” co-written by Watley, soared to #1 in Canada and #2 in the U.S., topping the U.S. R&B and Dance charts. The debut LP went on to yield four more Dance top 10 hits, including two #1s, “Don’t You Want Me” and “Some Kind Of Lover.”
Watley’s next long-player, 1989’s “Larger Than Life,” proved Watley was no flash in the pan as its first single, “Real Love,” topped the R&B and Dance charts and the LP yielded two more R&B #3 hits, “Friends” and “Everything.” Watley continued to dominate the U.S. Dance charts, reaching #1 again in 1998 with “Off the Hook,” in 2005 with “Looking for A Love,” and in 2007 with “I Want Your Love” in addition to scoring three others that climbed to #2. Watley ranks on the list of Worldwide Best Sellers, being particularly popular in Japan.
495. FERRANTE & TEICHER
This duo met while attending the Julliard School of Music in New York City, becoming faculty members after graduating. But once they teamed up, their career as hit makers began, lasting through the ‘60s and into the early ‘70s.
Arthur Ferrante hailed from New York City while Louis Teicher was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Their twin piano attack proved unique to popular radio, appealing not only to adults, but many younger listeners as well. In the Summer of 1960, they had their first big hit, the “Theme From The Apartment,” the 1960 Billy Wilder film starring Jack Lemmon. Gaining 10 Academy Award nominations, winning five, helped Ferrante & Teicher’s single, originally done as “Jealous Lover” in the 1949 movie “The Romantic Age,” soar to #10 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Less than four months later the twin pianos struck again, this time with the theme from another huge movie, Otto Preminger’s “Exodus,” starring Paul Newman. The Ernest Gold soundtrack topped the LP chart, won the Academy Award for Best Original Score and won the Grammy Award for Best Soundtrack Album while the main theme took the Grammy for Song Of The Year. Covered by many, the main theme’s most successful version was Ferrante & Teicher’s, which climbed to #2, blocked at the top by Goldmine Hall of Famer Bert Kaempfert’s “Wonderland By Night,” another instrumental. Right behind “Exodus” was a third instrumental, “Calcutta” by Goldmine Hall of Famer Lawrence Welk.
Ferrante & Teicher went on to score two more top 10 hits, both with movie material, “Tonight” from “West Side Story” hitting #8 in 1961 and “Midnight Cowboy” reaching #10 in 1969. The duo ranks high on the Billboard list of best-selling album artists with 31 chart entries between 1961 and 1972.
Teicher died in 2008 at age 83, while Ferrante passed away the next year at age 89.