Saturday, November 13, 1976

Rod Stewart began 8-week run at #1 with “Tonight’s the Night”

First posted 3/7/2021; updated 3/11/2021.

Tonight’s the Night (Gonna Be Alright)

Rod Stewart

Writer(s): Rod Stewart (see lyrics here)

Released: May 1976

First Charted: June 5, 1976

Peak: 18 US, 15 CB, 16 HR, 15 RR, 42 AC, 1 CL, 5 UK, 16 CN, 3 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 16.8 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

In the Paul Nelson-Lester Bang biography Rod Stewart, critic Greil Marcus said this “is a seduction song so transparent, helpless and forthright that not even a cynic can resist it.” BR1 However, some program directors initially did exactly that – citing lyrics about the deflowering of a “virgin child” BB100 and the line “spread your wings and let me come inside” as too sexually explicit. BR1 The “romantic murmuring in French near the fade-out,” which was voiced by Stewart’s then-girlfriend Britt Ekland, BB100 was also considered too suggestive. WK Jesse Jackson’s People United to Save Humanity even target the song “as an example of one that was loosening the morals of young people.” SF

Public demand won out in the end and the song became the biggest #1 of 1976. WHC Its eight weeks on top made it the biggest #1 since the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” in November 1968. It was also the biggest hit of Stewart’s career. It was the best-selling song in the United States in 1977. WK In 2018, Billboard ranked the song the 19th biggest in the history of the Hot 100.

Dan Peek says he and Stewart were playing together in Peek’s home recording studio and Peek played him the song “Today’s the Day” from his band America. Stewart said he liked it and it gave him an idea for a song of his own. When Peek heard “Tonight’s the Night,” he laughed and said, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’” WK

The famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section played on the song. They had played with Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and other famous soul acts. When Stewart arrived at the studio, he refused to believe that these guys were the actual band. He found it difficult to believe “that four white guys could deliver so much soul.” SF

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Rod Stewart
  • BB100 Billboard (9/08). “All-Time Hot 100
  • BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). New York, NY: Billboard Books. Page 448.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 103.
  • WK Wikipedia

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