THE COMMODORES

ALEX

 

We all know the story of the Commodores - how six college kids from Alabama took the world by storm in the mid 1970s and carved their place in musical history.

The group, a tight funk band which consisted of Milan Williams, Walter (Clyde) Orange, Thomas McClary, William King, Ronald LaPread and Lionel Richie, was signed to Motown in 1971 as first the opening act for the Jackson 5 tours, and then as recording artists. It wasn't until 1974 that the group had its first of many hits -

An original composition written by Milan Williams that gave them their first hit in 1974 - a funky instrumental called "Machine Gun". After that the group continued to escalate in fame and of course, the hits began to pile up, such as "I Feel Sanctified" (1974), "Slippery When Wet" (1975), "Sweet Love" (1975), "Fancy Dancer" (1976), "Just To Be Close To You" (1976), "Brick House" (1977), "Zoom" (1977), "Too Hot Ta Trot" (1977), "Three Times A Lady" (1978) and "Sail On" (1979). Between the years of 1975-1981, the Commodores were among the most successful acts on Motown. The group, with labelmates Stevie Wonder and Rick James, were credited with pretty much keeping the label afloat during those years.

The success of the Richie-penned "Three Times A Lady" in 1978 signaled a change for the group: crossover. The concentration became less funk-oriented, and many of the hits that followed were geared towards pop audiences. At the time, Richie became the most popular member of the group. After being involved on several projects independent of his work with the Commodores, he eventually exited for a solo career in late 1982. Lead guitarist Thomas McClary followed a year later. Many people were writing the group off since Richie's departure, felt that the Commodores wouldn't be able to continue without him. After having some singers do temporary duty as lead singer, former Heatwave vocalist J.D. Nicholas came aboard in 1984.

As negative as some people's opinions were about the future of the group at this time, the Commodores would ironically go on to dispel those thoughts with a haunting yet phenomenal tribute song to Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson in 1985, "Nightshift". It was the band's biggest hit ever - topping the music charts for weeks and won the group their first Grammy.

The NIGHTSHIFT album was the Commodores' last for Motown. After the group's departure from the label, bassist Ronald LaPread retired from the group and the band was down to a quartet. The following year, 1986, they signed with Polydor and immediately had a smash hit on the R&B charts, "Goin' To The Bank", followed by "Take It From Me" - both songs from the UNITED album. Another LP on Polydor was recorded in 1988, ROCK SOLID. The next year, the Commodores left Polydor and keyboardist Milan Williams departed the group. The group was now down to three - Walter "Clyde" Orange, William "WAK" King, Jr. and J.D. Nicholas. This lineup is still intact today.

The Commodores have never stopped making music and they continue to tour with their back up band, The Mean Machine, to the thrill and delight of fans everywhere. At present, the band is at work on a NEW CD of ALL-NEW material! This site does celebrate the past accomplishments of this group, but the main concentration is on what is going on with them now. Yes, everyone - if you didn't know, then now you do! The Commodores are still out here, bringing it to ya, makin' it hot, and just LOVIN' IT! There is a lot of good music out there by these guys that has yet to be heard, and this is the place for it.


But it was another Casey/Finch original, "Rock Your Baby," that R&B artist George McCrae scored a hit with in 1974 as KC & the Sunshine Band began issuing further albums and singles, quickly scoring big hits on their own. The group then began an impressive run of disco hits: 1977's "Shake Shake Shake (Shake Your Booty)," "I'm Your Boogieman," "Keep It Comin' Love," "Boogie Shoes" (the latter included on the monster-selling soundtrack to the hit John Travolta disco movie, Saturday Night Fever), 1979's "Do You Wanna Go Party," and 1980's "Please Don't Go." Despite earning nine Grammy nominations (receiving three awards) and selling millions of records, KC & the Sunshine Band were still susceptible to the backlash that disco bands felt by the dawn of the '80s, eventually leading to dwindling sales and the group's split by the early '80s (although KC scored a moderate solo hit in 1983 with "Give It Up"). Come the '90s, an appreciation of everything '70s swept across the U.S., which led to a renewed interest bands from the era, prompting KC & the Sunshine Band to re-form for concert performances. That decade saw the release of countless KC "hits" collections and even an episode of VH1's popular Behind the Music series that studied the group's ups and downs

 

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