Thursday, December 1, 2011

Today In Oldies 12/2/2011

Golden Hits Radio's Everything Oldies.....all the Oldies news that's news to you!


A Diamond Duet In The Rough

The #1 song this week in 1978 has one of music's more fascinating "backstories".  It featured the first collaboration between two established superstars, but it was not the first time they had sung together.  They had previously performed together in the school choir at Brooklyn, New York's Erasmus High School.  The song they recorded together after becoming household names was one they had each recorded solo.  Enter a very unlikely catalyst to make to bring them together.....a heartbroken radio station Program Director. 

The song was originally written as the theme song for a television show called All That Glitters, produced by the hottest name in the business in that era, Norman Lear (All In The Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son).  Before the pilot episode was filmed, however, the premise of the show changed and the song didn't fit.  One of the writers of that song was one of the biggest names in the music business at the time, Neil Diamond.  In spite of the song not being used for TV, Diamond had been including it in his sold out live performances and noticed it was gaining traction with his audience.  Together with co-writers Alan and Marilyn Bergman, he added a few touches to finish the song and put it on his 1977 album I'm Glad You're Here With Me Tonight.  A few months later, another superstar covered it.  Barbra Streisand included it on her album Songbird

Variations on this story over the years, including at least one by Diamond himself in a published interview, have numerous disc jockeys across the country splicing together the vocals of Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand to create an on-air "duet", but the originator was the Program Director of WAKY-AM in Louisville, Kentucky.  Gary Guthrie was going through a divorce from his wife, Becky.  He had heard Neil Diamond's version first and noticed how it made her cry when she heard it.  Barbra Streisand was another of her favorite artists.  The light went on in his head, and he spliced the vocals of the two together.  He first limited airplay to the overnight hours, but once his daytime audience heard it, the request lines never stopped ringing.  Soon, other mass media picked up the story worldwide, including Good Morning, America, People magazine, and the BBC.  A phenomenon had been created.  The only missing piece was actually getting the two singers together to record it. 

The label for both artists, Columbia, finally got the two together for an "official" version.  Released in October, the song shot to the top in just a few weeks.  While plans for a feature film starring the duet partners based on the song never materialized (Diamond did The Jazz Singer instead), they teamed up for a memorable rendition of it at the 1980 Grammy Awards. 

One radio station manager's pain produced the 3rd #1 single for both Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand, and this week it was spending its first non-consecutive week atop the Billboard Hot 100.  Here is that legendary Grammy performance of.............


Golden Hits Radio's Burning Question of the Day

Which Broadway musical (and later, Oscar-winning film), based loosely on the life of a legendary 60's group, made its debut today in 1981? 

Come back to Everything Oldies tomorrow to find the answer, and leave a Comment below with your best guess! 

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

Speaking of TV specials, which legendary duo had their first network prime time special on NBC today in 1969 despite losing their title sponsor over their objection to footage aired of both the Vietnam War and Robert Kennedy's funeral? 

Answer: Simon and Garfunkel -- the title sponsor who dropped out was AT&T


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