Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Today In Oldies 9/30/2010

If it's Oldies news, you'll get it first at Golden Hits Radio and GHR-2

Where In The World Is..........Bill Withers?

Born in 1938 in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, Bill Withers' original ticket out of small town life was enlisting in the Navy after high school.  Following his discharge in 1965, he went straight from the ship to Los Angeles to pursue a music career. 

Once he made it to La-La Land, his Naval training as an aircraft mechanic served him well as a day job, where he paid for his own demos and shopped them around town while performing in clubs by night.  By 1970, he landed a recording deal with Sussex Records.  Bill Withers might be one of the most sensible musicians in history, refusing to quit his day job even after he had his first smash hit, "Ain't No Sunshine", in 1971, because he found the music business to be fickle and he was still unpolished compared to other acts. 

Success came immediately with the release of Withers' first album, "Just As I Am", in 1971.  Recorded in just 9 hours (and featuring Stephen Stills on guitar), it generated a huge hit single.  "Ain't No Sunshine" hit #3 on the pop singles chart, sold over a million copies, and won a Grammy for Best R&B song in 1972.  The hits continued with the next album, "Still Bill", with "Lean On Me" topping the pop charts in 1972 and "Use Me" hitting #2. 

A legal battle with Sussex Records kept Withers from recording and maintaining his chart momentum, and in 1975 he signed with Columbia Records.  Several albums and a few more modest hits followed, including "Lovely Day" and a smash collaboration with Grover Washington, Jr., "Just The Two Of Us", in 1980.  Wisely, he also controlled all the publishing rights to the songs he wrote, making him financially secure above and beyond what he made as a performer. 

Upon the completion of his contract with Columbia in 1985, Bill Withers walked away from recording and live performing.  For the most part, he has retired from the business aside from his publishing interests and occasionally writing songs for other performers, most notably Jimmy Buffett on his 2004 album "License To Chill".  He currently resides in Los Angeles.  His legacy over his 15 years of performing and recording is vast.  It includes membership in the Grammy Hall of Fame (twice), Songwriters' Hall of Fame, and West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.  He has won 3 Grammy Awards as well as NAACP Image and Soul Train Awards.  His 2 children, Todd and Kori, followed their father into the "business" side of the music business and are involved with his publishing company. 

Let's revisit Bill Withers' run at the top.  From a 1973 BBC performance.........

Golden Hits Radio and GHR-2's Burning Question of the Day

What Oscar winning actor can be seen briefly in the music video for Madonna's 1987 hit "La Isla Bonita"?

Check back tomorrow @ Everything Oldies for the answer, and leave a Comment here with your best guess!

Yesterday's Burning Question (and Answer) of the Day

What unlikely collaborator played guitar on the Monkees' 1969 song "Tear Drop City"?

Answer: Neil Young




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