The Commodores Mar 24, 2005 18:06:29 GMT -5
Post by Emerald City on Mar 24, 2005 18:06:29 GMT -5
Known for such hits as "Just to Be Close to You," "Easy," and "Brickhouse," to name a few, the Commodores were one of the top bands during their long tenure at Motown. The group is credited with seven number one songs and a host of other Top Ten numbers on the Billboard charts. They also have a vast music catalog that has generated more than 50 albums, and the recordings continue to be in demand.
The members of the Commodores, all of whom attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, came together as a result of two groups disbanding: the Mystics and the Jays. Initially formed to simply play music as a pastime and to meet girls, the lineup consisted of William King (trumpet), Thomas McClary (guitar), Ronald LaPread (bass), Walter "Clyde" Orange (drums), Lionel Richie (saxophone), and Milan Williams (keyboards). The members nearly went stir-crazy trying to pick a name for the group, but to no avail.
As a last resort, Orange gave King a dictionary and told him to pick a name, and that name was the Commodores. With the only learned musician in the group being Clyde Orange, the Commodores began spreading their music throughout their regional base, which included Tuskegee, Montgomery, and Birmingham, AL. After experiencing success in securing dates in their own backyard, the band ventured to New York City for a gig at the Smalls Paradise club. They were told, in so many words by the club owner, that their sound was not happening. However, a short time later the self-contained band was called back to the club to fill-in for a last minute cancellation. That night the Tuskegee alumni performed before a standing-room-only crowd. Most of the crowd were friends and family of the band. Unaware of the planned crowd, the owner booked the band for two more weeks.
The Commodores association with Motown was a result of the group touring with the Jackson 5. That opportunity occurred in 1971 when the group was told to be in New York City for an audition. The members did not know the audition was for the Jackson 5 tour until two weeks later when they were selected for the tour. They toured with the Jackson 5 for two-and-one-half years, and their presence on that tour ultimately solidified a deal with Motown. Their first release on Motown was the up-tempo instrumental dance cut "Machine Gun." Written by Milan Williams, the song gave the group immediate attention with its Top Ten outing (Billboard number seven, 15 weeks).
That number was followed by the Top 20 single "I Feel Sanctified," which lead to their third single and first number one record in "Slippery When Wet." Inside of 17 weeks, the Alabama-based septet was rocking the radio waves with their Southern funk spiced with an animated vocal delivery, courtesy of Lionel Richie and Clyde Orange.