As one can only expect, The Beatles have the record of the most number one songs in the Billboard Hot 100. They rank first with 20 chart toppers while Elvis Presley ranks second with 17 number ones. However, surprisingly Presley holds the record for the most weeks at number one with 79 while The Beatles rank second on this list with 59 weeks in the top slot. The Beatles first number one in the U.S. was “I Want to Hold Your Hand” on February 1, 1964 which stayed in the top position for an astounding seven weeks. The band’s last number one hit was the double single “The Long and Winding Road/For You Blue” which topped the charts for two weeks beginning on June 13, 1970. From February 1, 1964 to January 26, 1970 The Beatles scored an amazing 20 number one hits in the U.S.
Two Beatles songs hold the record for the biggest jumps to number one. First, in 1964 “Can’t Buy Me Love” jumped from number 27 to number one; the second on this list is “Paperback Writer” in 1966 as it catapulted from number 15 to number 1. Ironically, the third song in this distinction is the 1971 song “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” by Paul and Linda McCartney which jumped from number 12 to number one; “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is actually tied for third place with “Tequila” by The Champs, which in 1959 also jumped from number 12 to number one.
The Beatles number one hit that spent the most weeks in the top slot was “Hey Jude” in 1969. The Beatles number one songs are:
1. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” (February 1, 1964 – six weeks)
2. “She Loves You” (March 21, 1964 – two weeks)
3. “Can’t Buy Me Love” (April 4, 1964 – five weeks)
4. “Love Me Do” (May 30, 1964 – one week)
5. “Hard Days Night” (August 1, 1964 – two weeks)
6. “I Feel Fine” (December 26, 1964 – three weeks)
7. “Eight Days a Week” (March 13, 1965 – two weeks)
8. “Ticket to Ride” (May 22, 1965 – one week)
9. “Help!” (September 4, 1965 – three weeks)
10. “Yesterday” (October 9, 1965 – three weeks)
11. “We Can Work It Out” (January 8, 1964 – three weeks)
12. “Paperback Writer” (June 25, 1966 – two weeks)
13. “Penny Lane” (March 18, 1967 – one week)
14. “All You Need Is Love” (August 19, 1967 – one week)
15. “Hello Goodbye” (December 30, 1967 – three weeks)
16. “Hey Jude” (September 28, 1968 – nine weeks)
17. “Get Back” (May 24, 1969 – five weeks)
18. “Come Together/Something” (November 29, 1964 – one week)
19. “Let It Be” (April 11, 1970 – two weeks)
20. “The Long and Winding Road/For You Blue” (June 13, 1970 – two weeks)
Prior to its UK release on 29 November 1963, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” had advance orders of more than 1,000,000 copies. The single definitely would have debuted in the top position on the UK charts, which would have been unprecedented. However, their hit “She Loves You” was at number one at the time and seemed to be losing its grip and prone for a dip, but a BBC special report on The Beatles caused “She Loves You” to have a second life and surge to prevent a drop from the number one position.
Beatles observers cite “I Want to Hold Your Hand” as a prime example of a song in which Lennon and McCartney closely collaborated. Of course, they were both lead vocalists on the track. On the Billboard Hot 100, up until that time it spent the longest stretch at number one apart from when the double-sided 45 release of “Don’t Be Cruel/Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley stayed in the top slot for 11 weeks.
“The Long and Winding Road” was the twentieth and final number one hit for The Beatles, an achievement which has yet to be surpassed. The span of months between their first number one hit, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” in February 1964, and “The Long and Winding Road” in May 1970 was 74; this represents an incredible average of a number one hit every 3.7 months in their dominance of the U.S. charts. The McCartney-penned song was issued as a single in May 1970, a full month after the band’s break-up.
Ironically, McCartney first offered the song to Tom Jones with the provision that he record the song as his next single. But, Jones opted to release his “Without Love” as his next single, shooting the song into the Beatles’ pool of songs for their next album. “The Long and Winding Road” famously was one of the five Beatles songs that McCartney played on his 1976 Wings Over America tour, which marked the first time since the quartet’s break-up that he played Beatles songs.
Well, Earth, Wind and Fire’s cover version of “Got to Get You into My Life” has been covered by a Moscow-based band of musicians who are getting a high-profile in the United States. The band is called Leonid and Friends , and they began doing precise covers of the studio recordings of hits by Chicago. Apart from covering Chicago tunes, they have covered a couple of Earth, Wind and Fire songs in addition to “Spinning Wheel” by Blood, Sweat and Tears.
They came to do concerts in the U.S. in 2018 and 2019. The band’s leader, multi-instrumentalist Leonid Vorobyvev, said, “Chicago has never been in Russia and none of us have attended their concerts. We only have audio records and videos to help us learn Chicago songs.”
Ironically, one of the few non-Chicago songs they have recorded is the famous 1978 cover of “Got to Get You into My Life”. It is rare when a band records a cover version of a famous song and not the original. Have a listen to Leonid and Friends amazingly recreating the Chicago sound and more …………
Let’s face it, neither Beatles songs nor subsequent songs by former Beatles are noted for sax solos. Therefore, the Wings 1975 number one hit “Listen to What the Man Said” stands out for sure. Acclaimed saxophonist Tom Scott provided the soprano sax on this hit.
“Listen to What the Man Said” entered to the Top 40 on June 7, 1975, spending a total of eleven weeks in the Top 40. It hit number one for one week on July 19, 1975. The song from the forthcoming Venus and Mars album became McCartney’s fourth post-Beatles number one hit in the U.S. It was actually the band’s first single to appear on the Capitol label, as the previous single “Junior’s Farm” had been the last Wings 45 record on the Apple label.
“Listen to What the Man Said” was released under the moniker of “Wings”, as the previous five Top 40 chart entries were credited to “Paul McCartney & Wings”: “Sally g”, “Junior’s Farm”, “Band on the Run”, “Jet”, and “Helen Wheels”. Prior to these five songs released under “Paul McCartney & Wings”, the band’s first six Top 40 chart entries had been credited simply to “Wings”: “Give Ireland Back to the Irish”, “Mary Had a Littler Lamb’, “Hi, Hi, Hi”, “My Love” and “Live and Let Die”.
In addition to being a saxophonist, Tom Scott is both an arranger and composer. His father was film and television composer Nathan Scott, famous for composing the themes to the showsDragnet and Lassie. Tom Scott definitely followed in his father’s footsteps as he composed the theme songs to the hit shows Starsky and Hutch and The Streets of San Francisco. In 1982 he collaborated with Johnny Mathis to write “Without Us” the theme song for the wildly popular 1980s sitcom Family Ties, which ran from 1982 to 1982. For the show’s first season (1982-1983), the theme song was sung by Dennis Tufano and Mindy Sterling. However, for the rest of the show’s run the theme song by Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams, who ironically collaborated for the number one hit “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in June 1978. Deniece Williams would go on to have have her own number one hit for two weeks in May/June 1984 with “Let’s Hear It for the Boy” off of the Footloose soundtrack.
In his various collaborations with Michael Jackson, Scott played the lyricon on the international 1983 number one hit “Billie Jean”. In addition to working on scores of tv and some major movies, his work as a session musician encompasses many hits and countless artists.
He was a founding member of The Blues Brothers but did not appear in the movies Blues Brothers and Blues Brothers 2000. He left over a pay dispute, but was able to re-join the band at a later juncture.
Tom Scott graduated in 1966 from Ulysses S. Grant High School in the Valley Glenn neighborhood of Los Angeles. Since the school’s opening in 1962, countless famous people have been among their graduates. Some of many famous grads are Tom Selleck, Mickey Dolenz, actor Barry Livingston, lead singer and founding member of Quiet Riot Kevin Dubrow, controversial journalist Megan Marshack, session drummer Jim Gordon, former California Lieutenant Governor Mike Curb, and many more. The school is the alma mater to members of the rock band Toto – Jeff Porcaro, Mike Porcaro, Steve Lukather , Steve Porcaro, and Joseph Williams; founding member and pianist Dave Paich attended nearby Chaminade Prep but played with his future bandmates in the Porcaro garage during his high school years. Of course, Toto had their February 1983 number one hit “Africa” in addition to many other hits.
February 1964 saw The Beatles take the U.S. by storm to say the least, and usher in what became known as “The British Invasion”. While the high-profile band from Liverpool dominated the Billboard Hot 100 for many months, few realize that the second hit by a band from Liverpool was “Needles and Pins” by The Searchers.
“Needles and Pins” entered the Top 40 on March 21, 1964, staying in the Top 40 for eight weeks. It peaked at number 13, and miraculously stayed at number 13 for three weeks. In January 1965, their song “Love Potion Number Nine” would climb to number three. The band had five other hits in the Top 40 between March 1964 and April 1965. They were: “Don’t Throw Your Love Away” (# 16), “Some Day We’re Gonna Love Again” (# 34), “When You Walk in the Room” (# 35), “What Have They Done to the Rain” (# 29), and “Bumble Bee” (# 21). The Searchers had other hits that charted in the UK.
Prior to “Needles and Pins” entering the Top 40 on March 21, 1964, that other band from Liverpool had five songs chart in the Top 40. The first was “I Want to Hold Your Hand”, which held the number one position for seven weeks. “I Saw Her Standing There” hit number 14. “She Loves You” was number one for two weeks, followed by “Please Please Me” which peaked at number three. “My Bonnie”, their recording from their Hamburg days with Tony Sheridan, hit number six. Then, “Twist and Shout” stayed at number two for four weeks.
The Searchers were originally formed as a skiffle group in Liverpool in 1959 by John McNally and Mike Pender. Their classic line-up that had the hits in the U.S. consisted of Mike Pender and John McNally, both on guitars and vocals; Tony Jackson on bass and vocals, as well as Chris Curtis on drums. The band’s name was taken from the 1956 western The Searchers starring John Ford.
The band heard “Needles and Pins” for the first time at the Star Club in Hamburg, the famed establishment in Beatles lore where they were the house band during two different stays in Germany. It was being sung at the Star Club by British singer Cliff Bennett.
Before being recorded by The Searchers, Jackie DeShannon released an unsuccessful version that had no traction on the charts. Of course, Beatle fans know that the Kentucky native received her big break when chosen to open for The Beatles on their first U.S. concert tour in 1964. She had an international hit in 1965 with the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song “What the World Needs Now Is Love“, which reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100. Years later DeShannon would co-write the song “Bette Davis Eyes“, which was a monstrous hit for Kim Carnes, holding the top position on the Billboard Hot 100 for an astounding nine weeks.
“Needles and Pins” was written by Sonny Bono and Jack Nitzche, two underlings of Phil Spector. Bono would produce minor hits such as Larry Williams’ “Bony Maronie” and “Dizzy Miss Lizzy” prior to a successful recording career with his wife Cher. After massive success on American television with The Sonny and Cher Show and a divorce from Cher, Bono would eventually drift into politics, becoming the mayor of Palm Springs and then serving in the U.S. Congress from 1995 until his death from a skiing accident in January 1998. During his years he teamed up with his wife Cher as the famed duo Sonny and Cher, he was famous for sporting a “caveman vest”. The piece of legislation for which he is best known during his career as a congressman was extending the term of copyright by 20 years. The United States Copyright Extension Act of 1998 was passed by Congress nine months after his death and became commonly known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act. Of course, this legislation helps songwriters.
Jack Nitzche (1937 – 2000), the other co-writer of “Needles and Pins” had an amazing career, and was Phil Spector’s righthand man for many years. He later did work for The Rolling Stones on occasion, playing electric piano on the hits “Paint It Black” and “Let’s Spend the Night Together”, as well as writing the choral arrangement for “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Nitzche worked on the film scores for many blockbuster movies such as The Exorcist, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and The Razor’s Edge. In 1983, Jack Nitzche won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for co-writing “Up Where We Belong”, the theme song from the movie An Officer and A Gentleman starring Richard Gere and Debra Winger, which he co-wrote with Will Jennings and Buffy Sainte-Marie. “Up Where We Belong“, a duet with Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes, topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in November 1982.
The Beatles started the British Invasion and are the best known band from this era, but when they put Liverpool on the entertainment map, it should be remembered that the second band from Liverpool to score a hit during the British Invasion was The Searchers with “Needles and Pins”.
The subject of the firing of Pete Best as the Beatles drummer on August 16, 1962 is one of the most talked about and debated incidents in Beatles history. Best had been with the band for two years when they were in the trenches in both Liverpool and Hamburg, ranking as the most popular of the four Beatles. He was replaced by Ringo Starr, almost immediately after the band had the great fortune of being signed to a recording contract with EMI’s Parlophone label.
The reasons for the firing of Pete Best is a historical debate that cannot be done in a single blog post, nor a hundred blog posts for that matter. The topic of this blog article will be the pleasant surprise that in 1995, some 33 years after being replaced as The Beatles’ drummer, Pete Best was finally financially rewarded in a big way for his two years with the band.
1995 saw the famous Beatles Anthology, which consisted of the release of a set of three double albums, a television documentary a three part documentary. The first CD Anthology was released in late 1995, and the following two in 1996. As most Beatles fans know, The Beatles sold more albums in 1996 than in any other single year in the 1960’s.
The first Anthology CD contains ten songs from the band’s famous audition for Decca records, which of course did not earn them a recording contract. Since Pete Best was the drummer on all of these ten songs, he was able to finally reap some financial rewards for his storied two years with the struggling band. While he definitely received in the millions, both the Beatles management and Pete Best have thought it best to keep the exact amount private over the course of the last 24 years.
The ten songs on the first Anthology album which feature Pete Best saw their first official release with this album, but had been circulating in the bootleg world for almost thirty years. The ten songs included on the album are “My Bonnie”, “Ain’t She Sweet”, “Cry for a Shadow”, “Searchin’”, “Three Cool Cats”, “The Sheik of Araby”, “Like Dreamers Do”, “Hello, Little Girl”, “Besame Mucho”, “Love Me Do”.
Estimates of the payments to Best have ranged from four million pounds to 25 million pounds, but nothing concrete ever came out. While the three remaining Beatles opted to pay Best for his work on the infamous “Decca tapes”, Best was not invited to participated in the television documentary nor the book.
In a June 5, 2003 piece “The Booted Beatle” in the Washington Post, David Segal wrote quoted Pete Best stressing the need for the amount of his royalty payments from The Beatles to do be disclosed. He said, “I think the number needs to remain private. It’s security for my family and my grandchildren. I didn’t move to a 35 story mansion with a swimming pool and three Ferraris. I’m very happy with the life I’ve got so there’s no need to change it.”
Pete Best left the entertainment industry in 1968 and took a job in an unemployment office, rising to supervisor and retiring after 20 years with a good pension.
It may have taken 33 years, but ex-Beatle Pete Best finally earned many millions for his two year stint as the band’s drummer.
Today came the suprise news that the ultra-famous Gloria Vanderbilt died at age 95 at her home in Manhattan. The great-great-grandaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1887), the railroad tycoon and shipping magnate, she hailed from one of the most wealthy and socially prominent families in the United States. She was a model, an actress, fashion designer, artist and heiress. She was married four times, divorced three times, and bore four sons, one of whom is CNN commentator Anderson Cooper.
Those who were around in the 1970’s and 1980’s know that Vanderbilt re-invented herself with a $200 million fashion empire, primarily of designer jeans, but also including blouses, shoes, jewelry and perfume. A insightful obituary, “Gloria Vanderbilt Dies at 95; Built a Fashion Empire”, can be found in the New York Times. The obituary states that the Wings’ song “Mrs. Vanderbilt, from the 1973 Band on the Run album, was both inspired by Gloria Vanderbilt and loosely based on her life.
While “Mrs. Vanderbilt” was well-known to Beatles fans at thew time who bought the Wings album, it was not released as a single in both the U.S. and the UK. However, it was released as single in Australia, New Zealand, and Continental Europe.
Of course, this album was recorded in Lagos, Nigeria, with the overdubs done later in London. “Mrs. Vanderbilt”, like all the songs on Band on the Run, featured Paul McCartney on drums due to the fact that Wings drummer Denny Seiwell quit the band only a couple of hours before the departure to record in Nigeria. As is famously known, when the album was released, Paul’s good friend Keith Moon, the drummer extraordinaire of The Who, called him to ask who did the drumming on the album because it was great. Paul was thrilled at Moon’s comments.
Despite being a well-liked song by McCartney fans, Paul never played the song live until his famous free concert in Kiev, Ukraine in 2008, only because it received the most votes in an online poll from people who were planning on attending the concert.
“Come and Get It”, the first hit for Badfinger in both the U.S. and the UK, was written by Paul McCartney, who was hired to write the song for The Magic Christian, the 1969 movie starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, which was based on the Terry Southern novel of the same name. Actually, McCartney recorded a demo of the song on July 24, 1969 during the recording sessions for the Abbey Road album when he purposely arrived early for the occasion. He laid down a double track lead vocal and played every single instrument on the song; this task took the determined bassist less than an hour to do.
When presented the song to Badfinger, he instructed them with, “O.k., it’s got to be exactly like this demo.”
In 1996, this demo by McCartney was released on the Beatles Anthology 3, though McCartney was the only person on the track. Beatles critic Ian McDonald referred to the demo as “by far the best unreleased Beatles recording.” Over the years, critics have stated that “Come and Get It” could have been a big hit for the Beatles.
McCartney auditioned all four members of Badfinger – Pete Ham, Mike Gibbins, Tom Evans and Ron Griffiths – to sing lead vocals on the song. Ironically, he passed over the three Welshmen in the band and picked his fellow Liverpudlian Tom Evans. Joey Molland replaced Griffiths shortly after the recording of their first album.
McCartney produced the track, and handled some percussion chores. Tom Evans provided lead vocals and rhythm guitar. Pete Ham played piano and provided backing vocals. Ron Griffiths played bass and did background vocals, while
“Come and Get It” reached number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1970, and stayed in the Top 40 for eleven weeks. Eight months later, their hit “No Matter What” reached number eight on the charts. In early 1972, Badfinger had their highest charting single in the U.S. when “Day After Day” reached number four, and stayed in the Top 40 for twelve weeks. “Day After Day” was produced by George Harrison, who also played lead guitar on the track. Leon Russell handled the piano chores on the song, while Gary Wright played keyboards and Jim Keltner was on drums. The band’s fourth and final Top 40 hit in the U.S. was 1972’s “Baby Blue”, which reached number 14 and was produced by Todd Rundgren.
Unfortunately for Badfinger, they began to have bad luck. Pete Ham and Tom Evans wrote a song called “If It’s Love”, which was retitled “Without You”. They were very high on the song and it appeared on the band’s 1970 No Dice album, which was produced by Geoff Emerick. Their hopes for this song to be a major hit were dashed, as it totally flopped on the charts. As luck would have it, the following year Harry Nilsson recorded “Without You” and it was a number one smash hit around the world, including five weeks at the top of the charts in the U.S. in early 1972. Twenty-three years later Mariah Carey released the song and it topped the Billboard Hot 100 for a whopping six weeks.
The saga of Badfinger is sad. After the demise of Apple Records, the band recorded an album for Warner Brothers, who in 1974 would not release it for legal reasons and a nasty lawsuit ensued. In 1975 Pete Ham died from suicide, as did Tom Evans in 1983. Various new configurations of Badfinger toured in the aftermath, with Mike Gibbins and/or Joey Molland. A concise video addressing the bad luck faced by Bandfinger – both professionally and personally – can be see on YouTube.com under the title “Badfinger – The Tragic Story.”
Singer-songwriter Alan O’Day achieved a major feat that few singer-songwriters have accomplished. He both wrote a number one hit that someone else took to the top of the charts, as well as wrote and sang his own number one hit. O’Day wrote “Angie Baby”, a 1974 number one hit for Helen Reddy as well scored his own number one hit in July 1977 with “Undercover Angel”.
“Angie Baby” was the last number one hit of 1974, topping the charts on December 28 for one week. The song entered the Top 40 on November 2 and remained in the Top 40 for 13 weeks. Alan O’Day first offered the song to Cher who had recently scored a Top 40 hit with his “Train of Thought”, but she turned it down. It was not the first number one song that Cher had passed up because she had been offered and passed on “The Nights the Lights Went Out in Georgia”, which went on to be a number one hit for Vicki Lawrence in 1973.
“Lady Madonna” was the inspiration for O’Day to write “Angie Baby”. He told Billboard magazine, “’Lady Madonna’ just killed me. I thought, well I’m gonna write a song about somebody who’s growing up with the radio playing in the background of her life, with this rock and roll time we live in ….. there are songs for all of our emotions, and the radio really speaks for us in a way that nothing else does.”
Many years later, O’Day stated in an interview, “Back in 1974, I was trying to write a song loosely based on the character in the Beatles’ ‘Lady Madonna’. My ‘heroine’was initially a typical modern woman, dealing with the complexities of juggling family and work. And my gut told me the character I was creating had a major problem: She was boring.”
O’Day himself spent a few years as a sick kid who looked to the songs on the radio for companionship. He originally wrote the song as if the Angie character was a high school aged girl who was socially awkward or slightly retarded. Over the course of three months he decided to make her “crazy”, a girl who was taken out of school for psychological issues. While the song opens as the plausible story of a teenage girl with no friends who spends her time listening to the radio, it turns into a surreal sexual fantasy horror in which the boy next door is abducted and used as her secret lover. The song’s surreal fantasy, which has been compared to that of the 1977 number one hit “Hotel California” by The Eagles, is open to interpretation and has been speculated upon since its release. O’Day has never revealed his own view of what happens at the end of the song. Similarly, Helen Reddy herself has always refused to comment on the song’s true meaning and lets others draw their own conclusions.
Alan O’Day wrote songs for many major artists. He wrote “The Drum”, a hit for Bobby Sherman in 1971, as well as co-wrote “Rock and Roll Heaven”, a # 3 hit for The Righteous Brothers in 1974.
After “Angie Baby”, Reddy only scored in the top ten once more with “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady” in 1975. On July 18 of that year she became the first and the only permanent host of “The Midnight Special.” As Beatle fans know all to well, Reddy appeared in the final scene of the horrendous 1978 movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band along with Alan O’Day and many other successful recording artists in which this group, introduced as “Our Guests at Heartland”, sing the title track of the movie along with the cast.
The musicians in Toto – Steve Lukather, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro, Dave Paich and Mike Porcaro- are among the most recorded musicians in rock history. They have backed up countless musicians and groups in the studio on zillions of albums, some of which were the top albums of all-time such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller. In fact, before forming Toto and going out on their own, the members of Toto were the backing band for Boz Scaggs’ 1976 Silk Degrees album and tour. The artists with whom Steve Lukather have played are staggering, but right now we will concentrate on his collaborations with ex-Beatles.
In 1982, the musicians in Toto were hired to help out on Thriller and appeared on most of the songs on the album. In fact, not only did keyboardist Steve Porcaro provide synthesizer work on tracks, but he also wrote the album’s hit song “Human Nature”. Steve Lukather provided lead guitar on the first song released from the album, the Michael Jackson/Paul McCartney duet “The Girl Is Mine”, which reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, while Jeff Porcaro handled the drumming chores on the track.
Lukather wrote in his autobiography about meeting and working with McCartney:
“I was tripping as this would be the first Beatle I would meet – they were my reason for playing music. I was nervous and wanted to play really well that day, and hoped that Paul and Michael would have a good time, and we knew that Quincy was counting on us, so we gave it all we had …. the amount of security that day at Westlake was insane. This was less than two years since John Lennon had been shot and according to Quincy, McCartney was very nervous about meeting new people ……. As much as anything, it made Paul feel more comfortable. He was visibly relaxed after that, as if he were reassured that the band was good, and we got right on down to the tracking.”
From his work with the members of Toto on this track with Michael Jackson, McCartney later recruited Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro to work with him on the Give My Regards to Broad Street project. Lukather’s autobiography dedicates several pages to the experience. For instance, he wrote:
“When we at last made it onto the set, all of the instruments and amps were plugged in and radio to go. In spite of how ell the date had gone at EMI, I think Paul thought we might put down something else that was interesting and different once the cameras were rolling. Like I said, though, once you have done thirty takes of a track, inevitably the very earliest will prove the best. In total, we spent two weeks working with Paul. During that time, we had lunch almost every day with him, Linda, George and Geoff Emerick. Linda, in particular, was lovely, laughed freely and could not have been nicer.”
As for George Harrison, Lukather has always credited the “Quiet Beatle” for getting him started in music with guitar when he was still in grade school. Many years later, the Toto lead guitarist became friends with Harrison and was able to tell him about the inspiration the Beatles legend gave him from an early age. While Harrison and Lukather did not record together, they jammed together in private, mostly at Jeff Lynne’s house. In fact, the world famous website Ultimate Classic Rock published an article in 2015 entitled “Toto’s Steve Lukather Credits George Harrison with Inspiring Him to Play Guitar”.
In The Gospel According to Luke, he wrote about Harrison:
“George had a cassette he wanted to play me. It was the final mix of ‘Free as a Bird’ that Paul, Ringo and he had just done with Jeff Lynne. I was honored that he shared it with me. It blew my mind right away. Here I was sitting with George Harrison listening to what would be the new Beatles single. First one out since 1970 and I got to hear it with George. Beyond cool. And I loved it. Jeff Lynne and Paul did a killer job putting it together………..George also got me into transcendental meditation. For an uptight person such as me, this sounded particularly appealing. “
As is well known, Lukather has toured in a few configurations of Ringo’s All-Starr Band in recent years, including 2018 and the upcoming 2019 tour. In a February 2017 interview with Backstageaxxess.com, the Toto guitarist discussed his work with three of the four Beatles. Lukather both played on the 2017 Ringo album Give More Love and co-wrote two songs on the album: “Show Me the Way” and “We’re on the Road Again” were co-written by Steve Lukather and Richard Starkey.
Steve Lukather’s best known song that he wrote for Toto is the hit “I Won’t Hold You Back”, off of the 1982 multi-Grammy winning album Toto IV. The number of songs he has written outside of Toto is staggering. One song he co-wrote was “Talk to Ya Later”, on which he also played lead guitar, for The Tubes; this 1981 song, which is a staple of classic rock stations, was co-written by Lukather with David Foster and Tubes’ frontman Fee Waybill. Lukather played both guitar and bass tracks, most notably the screaming lead. “Talk to Ya Later” coincidentally was released around the same time that MTV launched on August 1, 1981, and the song benefited from the new music channel playing its video in heavy rotation.
Another Tubes hit co-written by Lukather is “She’s A Beauty”, a 1983 top ten hit of which the video also received heavy airplay when it was released in the early days of MTV. Once again, he co-wrote the song with David Foster and Fee Waybill. Lukather played lead guitar on this song while Toto band mate Bobby Kimball was the primary background vocalist. One other Lukather composition that scored high on the charts is “Turn Your Love Around”, a hit for George Benson which in 1982 scored the number five position on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the soul singles chart. “Turn Your Love Around” was written by Steve Lukather, Bill Champlin, and Jay Graydon. At the 25th Grammy Awards in 1983, Lukather, Champlin and Grayson took home the Grammy for Best R&B Song, which was ironic because Toto itself won seven Grammys that night for categories such as Album of the Year (Toto IV), Song of the Year(“Rosanna”), Producer of the Year (Toto IV), Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocals (“Rosanna”), Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices (“Rosanna”). In his autobiography, Lukather states that at least one member of Toto played on 50 of the songs that were nominated for the 1983 Grammys.
The Grammy for Best Video of the Year was awarded to Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical”, which was the top song of the 1980s decade with an astounding ten weeks in the number one position, and for which Steve Lukather played lead guitar. The list of hit songs and the list of all songs that Steve Lukather has played on is far too numerous to list. This is a Wikipedia listing of the songs he played on. Also, on 30 August 2018 there was an article in USAToday entitled “Toto’s Steve Lukather Shares His Favorite Collaborations, from Miles Davis to ‘Beat It’”.
While Toto dominated the Grammys in 1983, the following year in 1984 Michael Jackson and his Thriller album totally swept the Grammys. Ironically, members of Toto participated in many tracks on Thriller, with Steve Lukather playing lead guitar on the wildly famous number one hit “Beat It”, as well as “The Girl Is Mine”, and “Human Nature”. Coincidentally, “Human Nature” was written by Toto bandmate Steve Porcaro. Members of Toto were so heavily involved in the making of Thriller that some critics joked it was a Toto album. Also on Grammy night in 1984, Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down album presented the biggest competition to Thriller as every song released as a single from the album scored in the top ten; Steve Lukather and Jeff Porcaro played on the “Running with the Night”, which is noted for the compelling guitar solo that Lukather concocted for the recording session.
In a long and brilliant career, Steve Lukather not only has the incredible distinction of having played with three of the four ex-Beatles, but also to have been part of a phenomenally successful band in addition to being the most widely used session guitarist over the last four decades. It should be noted that the famed guitarist also released seven solo albums between 1989 and 2013, all of which include appearances from some of the biggest names in the recording industry. The albums are Lukather (1989), Candyman (1993),Luke (1997), Sentimental (2003), Ever Changing Times(2008), All’s Well That Ends Well (2010), and Transition (2013).
Steve Lukather’s new biography The Gospel According to Luke is a fascinating read not only for his in-depth accounts of collaborations with Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr, but also because it covers the career of one of the most recorded musicians in rock history who recounts his experiences with a seemingly infinite number of famous artists and high-rollers in the rock world over a 42 year career.
It is no surprise that last July 21 came and went with no mention that it was the 40th anniversary of the release of the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band, which is considered one of the biggest flops of a high-budget movie in film industry history. It did extremely poorly at the box office and received universally terrible reviews. Many could not believe that the Bee Gees, Peter Frampton, Steve Martin, Aerosmith and others would participate in such a farce. When asked about the film in a 1979 interview, George Harrison expressed his sympathy for Stigwood, Frampton and the Bee Gees, acknowledging that they had all worked hard to achieve success before making Sgt. Pepper. He said of Frampton and the Bee Gees: “I think it’s damaged their images, their careers, and they didn’t need to do that. It’s just like the Beatles trying to do the Rolling Stones. The Rolling Stones can do it better.” Furthermore, the great George Martin, the former producer of the Beatles, shockingly served as musical director, conductor, arranger, and producer of the film’s soundtrack.
However, surprisingly, two songs off of the soundtrack have stood the test of time and still receive widespread airplay some forty years later. The soundtrack rerecorded every song from the original 1967 Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band album except “Lovely Rita” and “Within You, Without You” as well almost every song from the Abbey Road album. Though the 1978 album has been a joke for the last four decades, the songs “Come Together” by Aerosmith and “Got to Get You into My Life” by Earth, Wind and Fire received abundant critical acclaim at the time and so many years later receive regular airplay.
In simple terms, the screenplay, written by New York Times pop critic Henry Edwards, involved the Pepper Band – Frampton and the Bee Gees – becoming corrupted by the record business and the victim of a plot by the Furure Villain Band, played by Aerosmith, to turn music fans into mindless drones consuming product. The day is saved by a weather vane, played by Billy Preston, coming to life to save the day.
“We realized our involvement with this could look cheesy, but we looked at it as another adventure. The real hook was being able to work with George Martin on our cover of “Come Together.” We flew to New York to work at the Record Plant. Our idea was not to stray too far from the original. We had too much respectfor John Lennon’s classic to go changing it just for the sake of change. We ran it down and waited for the arrival of George Martin.
When the tall and elegant Mr. Martin arrrived, we said quick hellos over the intercom and ran dowen the song for him. We sat there nervously, waiting for words of wisdom from the genius producer.
‘It sounds good, boys. Please procced.’
We were shocked. We’d figure he’d have a lot to say – either adding or subtracting from our interpretation. But he had no suggestions whatsover. So we kept playing until we formulated a good basic track.
When we went to the control room to reach him face-to-face, he was the same genial gentleman as ever. ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, boys, and I shall see you shortly.’
And with that he left.
When the movie came out, no one could believe how bad it was.”
“There was a lot of Beatles revival stuff in the air back then. People missed the Beatles. Steve Leber put together a show called Beatlemania: four musicians impersonating the Beatles. Aerosmith were investors in that. Then we got offered parts in the movie version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band produced by Robert Stigwood , who had paid the Beatles $500,000 for the rights to use their songs. Stigwood had just made all this money with Grease and Saturday Night Fever movies and soundtracks, two of the bestselling albums in history. I don’t remember why, but we did it, probably because it gave us a chance to work with George Martin when we cut our version of “Come Together” for the soundtrack.
Ray Tabano, an original member of Aerosmith who left in 1971 and assumed a managerial role with the band, put forth:
“The funny thing was that George Martin knew two things about Aerosmith: They took forever to record, and they loved Jeff Beck. George had produced Beck’s two biggest records [Blow by Blow, and Wired] and knew Beck was in town. So when they got into the studio, Martin told them that Jeff was playing that night at Trax and that they could all go see him when they finished. Aerosmith cut “Come Together” in two takes, George Martin flees with the tape, Aerosmith gets to the club, and no Jeff Beck. It was a hoax.”
Joey Kramer, the band’s drummer, offered this insight:
“The Sgt. Pepper? Are you kidding? It was a disaster. A real debacle. The Stones refused to do the part that was offered to us. Now we know why. It was just a pretty silly movie. Peter Frampton and the Bee Gees played the band, there was a girl named Strawberry Fields, and we and Alice Cooper were the bad guys, which was great because everyone looked so silly that we looked cool when we wanted to kill them. The only ones to get any airplay out of it were us and Earth, Wind and Fire, who did a great version of “Got to Get Your into My Life.”
In the three years previous to the release of “Come Together” in August 1978, Aerosmith had five songs in the Top 40, two of which – “Walk This Way” and “Dream On” – were top ten hits. “Come Together” reached number 23 on the Top 40 section of the Billboard Hot 100, staying in the Top 40 for seven weeks. Ironically, it would be over nine years until Aerosmith reached the Top 40 again on November 14, 1987 with the number 14 hit “Dude Looks Like a Lady”. Of course, the band was fractured in the 1980s, until all original members returned in 1984, which earned the band a new contract with Geffen Records. In the most dramatic comeback in rock history, Aerosmith collaborated with rappers Run-D.M.C. for their rendition of “Walk This Way”, the video of which on the MTV network exposed the band to a new generation of fans; this high-profile collaboration with Run-D.M.C. in 1986 was followed by their highly successful comeback album Permanent Vacation, which brought Aerosmith to the level of fame they experienced in the 1970s en route to an even higher plateau of fame than they had cultivated in the 1970s.
In fact, in his 2014 autobiography Shining Star: Braving the Elements of Earth, Wind & Fire, Philip Bailey, one of the band’s two lead singers, stated, “We didn’t just cover a Beatles tune, we transformed it, the EWF way. The folks at Columbia Records went crazy, and so did Paul McCartney who wrote the song. Everybody was pleased.” However, he continued later:
“As the movie inevitably tanked – along with the other singles- soon afterwards the Robert Stigwood Organization’s RSO label and movie empire went down with us. The Bee Gees were pissed! They wouldn’t speak to us because they thought we stole their thunder. Although Barry Gibb is cool with us now, back then they gave us no love at the gala premiere. There was a red carpet welcome for Robin, Maurice and Barry Gibb, but by the time EWF got off the plane, they had already rolled up the red carpet! But we were the ones with the number one record.”
Maurice White, the band’s other lead singer, seemed to echo those very sentiments in his own 2016 autobiography My Life with Earth, Wind and Fire. He stated, “Beatles producer George Martin, who also produced the soundtrack for the film ran to me the second we finished shooting and said to me, ‘Damn, we should have done the whole soundtrack like!'”. White continued:
“In essence, the other musical acts in the film tried two hard to be true to the Beatles’ orginal songs, which I beleive was their creative undoing. I revereed the Beatles, too, but I decided to remain true to our rallying cry: any material that EW&F touched, we had to put our own spin on it. In the case of “Got to Get You into My Life,’ we swumng it – hard.I think it’s one of Verdine’s best bass performances on trecord, and, according to Paul McCartney, it’s his favorite Beatles cover……….. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band did turn out to be a complete bust in every way. Critics panned it as one of the worst films ever – but we got another big hit out of it. “Got to Get You Into My Life” had to have been the only successful thing associated in that film.”
Earth, Wind and Fire’s rendition of “Got to Get You into My Life” entered the Top 40 on August 5, 1978 and reached the number nine position, spending a total of nine weeks in the Top 40. The success of “Got to Get You into My Life” sparked a succession of three top ten hits for the band over the next year – “September”, “Boogie Wonderland”, and “After the Love Has Gone”.
If you have not seen the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, you should definitely avoid it at all costs. While this 1978 farce has been rightfully forgotten, the songs “Come Together” and “Got to Get You into My Life” are rightfully still staples of FM airplay.