Tuesday, August 15, 1978

50 years ago: Louis Armstrong released “West End Blues”

First posted 8/15/2014; updated 3/18/2021.

West End Blues

Louis Armstrong

Writer(s): Clarence Williams, Joe “King” Oliver

Released: August 15, 1928

First Charted: September 15, 1928

Peak: 8 US (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 4.82 video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Dan Morgenstern called “West End Blues” “one of the handful of unsurpassed artistic achievements of the 20th century.” SS Music historian Steve Sullivan said it was “the most important jazz recording ever made” SS by the musician who “casts a shadow upon every other jazz musician…in the same way that Babe Ruth looms over baseball history.” SS On the Don’t Stay Up Too Late website, Jonathan Bogart goes a step farther, calling Armstrong “the most important figure in twentieth-century music.” DS

Joseph “King” Oliver, Armstrong’s mentor, composed “West End Blues” and recorded it on June 11, 1928, for Vocalion SS with his Dixie Syncopaters. CR The song has typically been performed as an instrumental, but did have lyrics added by Clarence Williams. WK The song was named for the West End of New Orleans’ Lake Pontchartrain, where people went to relax CR and where many jazz musicians were employed in the summer months. DS

On June 28, 1928, CR Louis Armstrong and His Hot Five (which included pianist Earl Hines) did their take, slowing down the tempo of the original. DS Armstrong plays trumpet – including a multi-layered, complex solo which set the standard for jazz musicians AMG – and scats. It was this version which became a New Orleans jazz favorite JA and “helped define what jazz could be.” AMG

“West End Blues” was one of the eight original songs selected to the Grammy Hall of Fame in its beginning year of 1974. The song is one of only two jazz recordings selected for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. SS

Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Louis Armstrong
  • AMG All Music Guide
  • CR Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Pages 688-9.
  • DS Don’t Stay Up Too Late (blog)
  • JA David A. Jasen (2002). A Century of American Popular Music: 2000 Best-Loved and Remembered Songs (1899-1999). Routledge: Taylor & Francis, Inc. Page 208.
  • SS Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings (Volume I). Scarecrow Press: Lanham, Maryland. Pages 28-31.
  • WK Wikipedia

Saturday, August 12, 1978

Commodores hit #1 with “Three Times a Lady”

Three Times a Lady


Writer(s): Lionel Richie (see lyrics here)

Released: June 8, 1978

First Charted: June 17, 1978

Peak: 12 US, 14 CB, 15 HR, 13 AC, 12 RB, 15 UK, 14 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.91 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 17.3 video, 82.19 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

It doesn’t get more successful than this. “Three Times a Lady,” the first #1 pop song for the Commodores, topped the Billboard Hot 100 as well as comparable U.S. pop charts Cashbox and Hit Records. It was also a #1 on Billboard’s R&B and adult contemporary charts. Internationally, it reached the pinnacle in the UK (where it was the biggest hit for Motown Records SF), Canada, Australia, Ireland, the Phillipines, and South Africa and reached the top 5 in 25 other countries. WK

Lionel Richie was a freshman at Tuskegee Institute in 1968 when he met his fellow bandmates who would become the Commodores. In 1971, they were signed ast the opening act for a tour for the Jackson Five. It would be two more years before they made their first recordings with Motown. One was an instrumental called “Machine Gun” which reached the top 10 on the R&B chart. In 1975, the Commodores hit #1 on the R&B chart with “Slippery When Wet,” which also reached the top 20 on the pop charts.

That song was written by guitarist Thomas McClary. However, Lionel Richie would soon become the breakout star of the group with more ballad-oriented fare through hits like “Sweet Love,” “Just to Be Close to You,” and “Easy.” All were top ten hits on the pop charts and the latter two reached #1 on the R&B chart.

Still, when Richie first wrote “Three Times a Lady” he wasn’t sure it was right for the Commodores. The song was inspired by the 37th anniversary party for Lionel Richie’s parents. His father toasted his mother, Alberta, saying, “She’s a great lady, she’s a great mother, and she’s a great friend.” WK Richie decided to pen a thank you to Brenda, his wife at the time. He envisioned the song, which he wrote as a waltz, being sung by Frank Sinatra. However, when he played it for James Carmichael, who was producing the Commodores, he insisted it be on their album. WK According to Richie, his neighbor said “if a man wanted to buy her a present, all he need do is buy her that record.” SF


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Commodores
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Lionel Richie
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 487.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 240.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 5/22/2022.

Saturday, August 5, 1978

The Rolling Stones hit #1 with “Miss You”

Miss You

The Rolling Stones

Writer(s): Mick Jagger, Keith Richards (see lyrics here)

Released: May 10, 1978

First Charted: May 27, 1978

Peak: 11 US, 1 2 CB, 3 HR, 1 1 RR, 33 RB, 1 CL, 3 UK, 1 2 CN, 8 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.25 UK, 1.25 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 127.2 video, 94.2 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In the 1970s, there were “people like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and the Who were doing just fine without every playing around with disco.” ST However, “a few rockers had messed around with disco, trying to figure it out.” ST The Rolling Stones were one such band. Although “they’d been written off by a fickle rock press as lumbering dinosaurs, with ‘Miss You’ the Rolling Stones proved they were far from extinct.” BR

It “blended the band’s essential rock with its newfound sound.” BR It “is, more or less, a disco song. It’s just a very Rolling Stones version of a disco song.” ST It showcases “a great band understanding how to play around with a cool new sound without sacrificing any of what made them great in the first place.” ST They “played disco as an insistent, bluesy slither.” ST

The Stones “had remained in a perpetual state of chaos” ST since their last chart topper, 1973’s “Angie.” They’d only hit the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts once since (1976’s “Fool to Cry”). Mick Taylor left and was replaced by Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards was looking at what could have been a years-long drug-related prison sentence ST that luckily ended in probation.

Mick Jagger and Charlie Watts hit the discos. Jagger in particular spent a lot of time hanging out at New York’s Studio 54 with model Jerri Hall. While “Miss You” is credited to Jagger and Richards, it was mostly Jagger who came up with the “depraved-ooze club groove.” ST He was jamming with keyboardist Billy Preston, who came up with the bass line, which Bill Wyman polished honed and polished after visits to quite a few clubs. WK Vocally, Jagger “gargles and pants and howls and grunts and launches into falsetto yips.” ST Lyrically he was inspired by the deterioration of his relationship with his wife, Bianca. SF


Related Links:

First posted 10/26/2021.

Wednesday, August 2, 1978

Boston Don’t Look Back released

Don’t Look Back


Released: August 2, 1978

Peak: 12 US, 9 UK, 13 CN, 8 AU

Sales (in millions): 7.0 US, 0.06 UK, 10.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic rock


Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Don’t Look Back (8/18/78, 4 US, 7 CB, 8 HR, 4 RR, 2 CL, 43 UK, 6 CN, 51 AU)
  2. The Journey
  3. It’s Easy (23 CL)
  4. A Man I’ll Never Be (11/11/78, 31 US, 36 CB, 36 HR, 16 CL, 27 CN)
  5. Feelin’ Satisfied (3/24/79, 46 US, 51 CB, 67 HR, 6 CL, 84 CN)
  6. Party (Scholz, Delp) (12 CL)
  7. Used to Bad News (Delp) (26 CL)
  8. Don’t Be Afraid

Songs written by Tom Scholz unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 33:47

The Players:

  • Tom Scholz (guitars, organ, bass, clavinet, etc.)
  • Brad Delp (vocals, acoustic guitar)
  • Barry Goudreau (guitar)
  • Fran Sheehan (bass)
  • Sib Hashian, Jim Madea (drums)


3.710 out of 5.00 (average of 25 ratings)

Quotable: “This record is better than 96.7% of the AOR records released in the 1970s” – Tim Sendra, All Music Guide

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

 “The follow-up to Boston’s mega-hit first album, …Don’t Look Back took two long years to complete and it’s hard to figure out why it took so long because it is almost exactly the same as their debut. The guitars still sound like they are being fed through computers and stacked into great walls of sound by robots, lead singer Brad Delp still sounds like he is ripping his throat out and the harmony vocals still sound like a choir of androids warbling angelically.” AMG

“Most importantly, the songs are overflowing with hooks, there are plenty of riffs to air guitar to, and the songs stick in your head like dirt on a dog. The main difference lies in the semi-melancholy tone of the record. Boston was a nonstop party of a record but one look at the song titles lets you know that Don't Look Back is a little different: A Man I’ll Never Be, Used to Bad News, Don’t Be Afraid. These songs reveal a reflective side that was nowhere to be found on Boston.” AMG

“Not to say the record doesn’t rock because it does mightily. Don’t Look Back has a killer riff that’s very similar to the timeless riff in ‘More Than a Feeling;’ Party is a storming rocker much like ‘Smokin’’ and It’s Easy is mellow 70’s AOR at its absolute best.” AMG

Don’t Look Back is basically Boston, Pt. 2, but don’t let that put you off because even though the band was treading water they were treading it like Esther Williams. This record is better than 96.7% of the AOR records released in the 1970s, combine it with Boston and you are looking at two tickets to AOR paradise.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:

Other Related DMDB Pages:

First posted 2/19/2008; last updated 8/25/2021.