“Will It Go Round In Circles,” Billy Preston’s second US number one single, was borne from a comment Preston made to his songwriting partner, Bruce Fisher, about having a song but no melody. From there the pair came up with lyrics about having a dance with no steps and added to those words a very catchy melody. A session that included pre-stardom guitar and bass players The Brothers Johnson brought the groove and the funk.
Billy Preston’s first time having his name appear at the top spot of the Hot 100 was in 1969 with “Get Back,” credited to The Beatles With Billy Preston. Following The Beatles’ breakup, Preston continued working with its members, including playing with George Harrison at the Concert for Bangladesh. Preston was the first artist to record Harrison’s My Sweet Lord,” which Harrison co-produced and later recorded himself.
“Will It Go Round In Circles” entered the Hot 100 at number 99. It reached the top ten eleven weeks later, at which time the number one song was Paul McCartney and Wings’ “My Love.” “My Love” was knocked from the top spot by George Harrison’s “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth),” which was knocked from the top spot by “Will it Go Round In Circles.” The b-side of the Preston single was his cover of The Beatles’ song “Blackbird.”
The late Billy Preston was born on this date in 1946. A handful of his songs feature on today’s playlist.
FUN FACT: The original lyrics to the song pictured were “Billy Joel is not my brother / He’s just some shlub who sang that the good die young / But he’s not my mother’s son.” Michael Jackson changed the words when Quincy Jones told him “That’s really stupid, Smelly.” (Note: I didn’t get this info from a reliable source, so take it with a grain of salt.)
Michael Jackson was born on this date in 1958. Lotsa Jackson on today’s playlist.
Founding member of The Temptations Paul Williams was born on this date in 1939. He died apparently by his own hand at just 34 years of age. Tunes du Jour honors his memory on today’s playlist with a smattering of the group’s many great tracks.
Back in 2016, when Donald Trump was a candidate for president of the United States of America without impeachments and indictments on his resume, the classic song “Love Train” was played at the Republican National Convention. The O’Jays were not supportive of this use of their hit. Group member Walter Williams said “Our music, and most especially ‘Love Train,’ is about bringing people together, not building walls. I don’t appreciate being associated with Mr. Trump and his usage of our music without permission.” Added group member Eddie Levert, “I don’t agree, whatsoever, with Trump’s politics to the point where I think he just may be the anti-Christ.”
The O’Jays’ Eddie Levert turns 81 today. A few of his group’s hits are included on today’s playlist.
I love me some Curtis Mayfield. “Superfly,” “Freddie’s Dead, “ “People Get Ready,” “This Is My Country,” “Choice of Colors,” “Amen,” “It’s All Right,” “Gypsy Woman,” “Keep On Pushing.” Then there are his songs popularized by other artists: “Let’s Do It Again,” “On and On,” “He Will Break Your Heart,” “Something He Can Feel.” What a great catalogue! I guess you could say he made an IMPRESSION on me. Get it? Boy, I’m good.
The late Curtis Mayfield was born on this date in 1942. Some of his work is included on today’s playlist.
Learning that Jeff Beck was a fan of his, Stevie Wonder invited the guitarist to the studio to jam with him. Beck played on Stevie’s composition “Lookin’ For Another Pure Love,” recorded for what was to be Wonder’s next album, Talking Book. As a thank you, Wonder wrote a song for Beck to record: “Superstition.” Wonder told Beck he can release his version prior to Wonder’s version, which would appear on Talking Book.
Motown heard Stevie’s recording and knew it would be a hit single. Stevie wanted his song “Big Brother” to be the album’s first single, but he hadn’t finished recording it by the time Motown needed a 45 to release in advance of the full-length record. Stevie begged Motown to not put out a “Superstition” single, as he promised it to Beck, whose album release was delayed. Motown ignored their superstar’s pleas. The label released the single, and scored Stevie a number one single on the US pop and r&b charts.
Beck wasn’t too happy about that turn of events, though the two men eventually sorted things out, playing the song together at The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s 25th-anniversary ceremony.
Stevie Wonder turns 73 today. He is well-represented on today’s playlist.