Saturday, December 24, 1977

Bee Gees hit #1 with “How Deep Is Your Love”

First posted 10/23/2020.

How Deep Is Your Love

Bee Gees

Writer(s): Barry Gibb, Robin Gibb, Maurice Gibb (see lyrics here)


First Charted: September 24, 1977


Peak: 13 US, 14 CB, 2 HR, 14 RR, 16 AC, 3 UK, 16 CN, 3 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.96 UK, 2.88 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 5.0 radio, 451.5 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

“How Deep Is Your Love” kickstarted one of the most successful soundtracks of all time, reaching #1 a week after the debut of the Saturday Night Fever movie. SF It was followed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 by two more Bee Gees songs (“Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever”) and Yvonne Elliman’s “If I Can’t Have You.” It was the best-selling soundtrack of all time until it was dethroned by 1992’s The Bodyguard.

“Deep” was also significant in that it ended Debby Boone’s 10-week reign at the top of the charts and became the first song to spend 17 weeks or more in the top 10 since Chubby Checker’s “The Twist.” It held the record until Boyz II Men’s 19-week top-10 run with “End of the Road” in 1992. The Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb has said it is his favorite Bee Gees’ song. WK

Robert Stigwood, who manged the Bee Gees, tapped them to contribute songs to his Saturday Night Fever movie. The group was tempted to give this song to Yvonne Elliman, but Stigwood said, “You’ve got to do this song yourself; you should not give it to anybody.” WK

When the song, which Billboard described as a “warm tender ballad,” WK reached #3 in the UK, Barry said, “With all the new wave and punk rock out, I would have thought something like ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ wouldn’t have a chance.” WK The song won the Grammy for Best Pop Performance by a Group.


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Saturday, December 17, 1977

Elvis Costello gets banned from Saturday Night Live: December 17, 1977

Originally posted December 17, 2011.



Saturday Night Live made its name in the 1970s not just for its live sketch comedy, but for musical performances. For the December 17, 1977 broadcast, the Sex Pistols were scheduled to perform. Their criminal records complicated the process of getting them visas in time so Elvis Costello & the Attractions were invited instead. Ironically, one would have assumed no one was more likely to provide controversy than the Pistols, but Elvis proved them wrong.

Costello wanted to promote his upcoming new single “Radio Radio”. However, the powers-that-be wanted an already established song from his repetoire. Lorne Michaels, the show’s producer, also didn’t want them to perform the song because of its anti-media message ZM which criticized “the commercialization and payola of the airwaves.” RS Costello seemingly obliged, kicking into a performance of “Less Than Zero”. However, he’d barely started the song when he turned to his band yelling “Stop! Stop!” and then informing the audience, “I’m sorry ladies and gentleman, there’s no reason to do this song here.” He then launched into “Radio Radio” instead.

The move got Costello banned from the program for more than a decade. Michaels was not a fan of such spontaneous changes and was reportedly infuriated that it put the show off schedule. ZM Costello has said the move was inspired by a Jimi Hendrix performance on BBC television in which he was supposed to play “Hey Joe” but opted for a cover of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” instead. That broadcast was stopped when it ran “longer and louder than the show’s producers intended.” WK

Costello finally appeared as a musical guest again in 1989 and also in 1991. For SNL’s 25th anniversary in 1999, the Beastie Boys were beginning a performance of their song “Sabotage” when Costello interrupted them and they played “Radio Radio” together.

Click here to see the 1977 performance of “Radio Radio”





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“You Light Up My Life” spent 10th week at #1

You Light Up My Life

Debby Boone

Writer(s): Joe Brooks (see lyrics here)


Released: August 16, 1977


First Charted: August 27, 1977


Peak: 110 US, 18 CB, 113 HR, 16 RR, 11 AC, 4 CW, 48 UK, 15 CN, 7 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 7.0 video, 16.5 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Despite the sentimental nature of this romantic love ballad, the story of how it ended up with Debby Boone isn’t quite so sweet. Joe Brooks wrote the song for the 1977 movie You Light Up My Life, which he wrote and directed. SF The story was about a girl, played by Didi Conn, who is trying to make it in show business. In the movie, she is seen singing the song in the studio. SF Conn lip synched it in the movie, but Kasey Cisyk, best known for singing jingles, actually sang it and her version was featured on the soundtrack. While Brooks was initially pleased with Cisyk’s version, her second husband, Ed Rakowicz, said Brooks retaliated against her for rebuffing improper advances. He wouldn’t speak to her and avoided making payments, eventually recouped in a lawsuit. WK

Brooks commissioned Debby Boone, the daughter of legendary singer Pat Boone, to sing a new version of the song. In an effort to mimic the original as much as possible, the same orchestra track and piano was used for Boone’s version. She has also said that Brooks allowed her no freedom in how to sing the song; she was directed how to sing every inflection so it matched the original recording. WK She has said in interviews that Brooks was so mean to her, that she was reduced to tears. SF

Her version of “You Light Up My Life” was released as the first single to her debut solo album of the same name. It became the biggest #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit of the 1970s. Its 10 weeks on top of the chart made it the biggest #1 since Elvis Presley topped the charts for 11 weeks in 1956 with his double A-side hit “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog.”

It scooped up a number of year-end awards, including a Grammy Award for Song of the Year, an Academy Award for Best Original Song, an American Music Award for Favorite Pop Single, and a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song. It even garnered Boone a Grammy for Best New Artist. She never had another top 40 hit on the Billboard pop charts, but she did crossover to the country charts.


Resources:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Debby Boone
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 475.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia


First posted 10/30/2019; updated 7/17/2022.

Friday, December 16, 1977

Saturday Night Fever premiered in U.S. theaters: December 16, 1977

Originally posted December 16, 2011.



This 1977 drama told the story of Brooklynite Tony Manero, played by John Travolta. He lived with his unsupportive parents and worked a dead-end hardware store job. However, his weekends were devoted to dancing at the local discotheque.

British writer Nik Cohn provided the inspiration for the movie with his 1976 New York magazine article “Tribal Rites of the New Saturday Night”. Cohn was a newcomer to the United States and a stranger to the disco lifestyle. Unable to grasp the subculture which he was expected to write about, he fabricated the article based on a Mod acquaintance. WK

The movie has been largely credited with popularizing disco around the world. It made Travolta a household name and the soundtrack, which prominently featured the Bee Gees, was one of the best-selling albums of all time. In fact, the film was the first example of cross-media marketing with a single being used to promote the film before its release. WK

The film was considered by many critics to be one of the best movies of 1977. It was featured in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made and in 2010 was selected to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. Travolta earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.




Awards:
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Saturday, November 12, 1977

Billy Joel charted with “Just the Way You Are”

Just the Way You Are

Billy Joel

Writer(s): Billy Joel (see lyrics here)


First Charted: November 12, 1977


Peak: 3 US, 7 CB, 3 HR, 2 RR, 14 AC, 1 CL, 19 UK, 2 CN, 6 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, 66.17 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Billy Joel had thirty three top-40 hits, ten of which reached the top 10. When he had his breakout hit with “Piano Man” in 1973, he’d already been recording and performing since 1965. It wasn’t until 1977 and “Just the Way You Are,” though, that he landed his first top-10 hit in the United States and first chart entry period in the UK. It also topped the Billboard adult contemporary chart and won Grammys for Record and Song of the Year.

Joel said the melody and chord progression came to him in a dream. He also shared that the title was inspired the last line of “Rag Doll” by the Four Seasons. He wrote the song for Elizabeth Weber, his then-wife and business manager. WK He gave the “pure expression of unconditional love” to her as a birthday present. SF

Unfortunately, the two divorced in 1982, after which time Joel said he didn’t like playing the song live. WK He said, “Every time I wrote a song for a person I was in a relationship with, it didn’t last. It was kind of like the curse. Here’s your song – we might as well say goodbye now.” SF

Neither he nor the band liked the song. He said it was a “gloppy ballad” that would only get played at weddings. “It wasn’t even rock ‘n’ roll; it was like a standard with a little bit of R&B in it. It reminded me of an old Stevie Wonder recording.” SF He’d decided against including it on The Stranger, but Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow, who were both recording in other studios in the same building, encouraged him to put it on the album. WK Phil Ramone, the album’s producer, said they couldn’t afford to exclude the song because they didn’t have that much material to choose from. WK Paul McCartney has said it is one of the few songs he wished he’d written. SF

A variety of artists have covered the song, including Harry Connick Jr., Isaac Hayes, Diana Krall, Johnny Mathis & Deniece Williams, Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, and Barry White.


Resources:


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First posted 3/16/2021; last updated 6/30/2022.