Saturday, September 9, 1995

Coolio's “Gangsta’s Paradise” hit #1

First posted 10/31/2019.

Gangsta’s Paradise

Coolio with L.V.

Writer(s): Artis Ivey Jr. (Coolio), Larry Sanders (LV), Doug Rasheed, Stevie Wonder (see lyrics here)

Released: August 8, 1995

First Charted: August 19, 1995

Peak: 13 US, 13 CB, 21 RR, 2 RB, 12 UK, 5 CN, 113 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: 3.0 US, 1.79 UK, 6.39 world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 240.75

Streaming *: --

* in millions


The original intent for the music on the Dangerous Minds soundtrack was alternative music. However, the movie’s story line was about Michelle Pfeiffer as an ex-marine who becomes a teacher at a high school in the ghetto so Kathy Nelson, who supervised soundtrack music for producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, suggested a more urban approach. She liked the sound of rapper Coolio’s voice on the song “Fantastic Voyage” and brought him in to see footage of the movie. He was sold on the movie’s positive message about school. BR1

The song “Gangsta’s Paradise” grew out of an unexpected moment. Coolio was picking up a package at a studio and heard singer Larry Sanders (known as L.V. for Large Variety) crafting a song out of Stevie Wonder’s “Pasttime Paradise.” Coolio was a big Stevie Wonder fan, but had not heard the album cut from 1976’s Songs in the Key of Life. Coolio started writing on the spot and finished the song three hours later. BR1

Wonder originally rejected it, but approved it after Coolio took out a few vulgarities he had in the song. Nelson was excited by the end result. She said, “It didn’t fit any of the trends happening in hip-hop or rap music at the time. And it was very different for Coolio. With ‘Fantastic Voyage’ everyone was expecting a fun party record from him. Instead they got this gothic, dramatic, much slower-paced song” BR1 which captured the “despair and abandonment felt by the kids at the school” SF featured in the film. Disney executive Joe Roth was sold on the song as well, even deciding to center the movie’s promotional campaign around the song and a video of Coolio and Pfeiffer which featured clips from the movie. BR1

The song hit #1 in Australia, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. WK It was the first rap single to sell more than a million copies in the UK and its 13-week stay atop the Australian charts made it the biggest #1 there until Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” broke the record 22 years later. SF While it only spent 3 weeks at #1 in the U.S.A., it spent another 9 weeks at #2, making it Billboard’s biggest song of 1995.

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Saturday, September 2, 1995

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum opened its doors: September 2, 1995

In its own words, “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. is the nonprofit organization that exists to educate visitors, fans and scholars from around the world about the history and continuing significance of rock and roll music. It carries out this mission through its operation of a world-class museum that collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets this art form and through its library and archives as well as its educational programs.” MS

The Hall/Museum officially opened its doors to the public in downtown Cleveland, Ohio, on the shores of Lake Erie on September 2, 1995. The day before, a parade and ribbon-cutting ceremony took place. Among the attendees were Ahmet Ertegun, Little Richard, Yoko Ono, the governor of Ohio, and the mayor of Cleveland.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation had established itself in New York City originally, but officials from Cleveland approached them in 1985 with a proposal for a major museum. Suzan Evans said, “Our eyebrows were raised, and somebody at the meeting actually passed me a note that said, ‘Pack your bags.’” HO Cleveland also ranked first in a USA Today poll asking where the museum should be located. Cleveland was chosen as the home for the museum in May 1986.

In 1987, architect I.M. Pei was tapped to design the museum. HO Ground brok on June 7, 1993 with notables such as Chuck Berry, Sam Phillips, Pete Townshend, and Billy Joel on hand. Since opening its doors, the museum has had nearly eight million visitors. HO

The Rock Hall’s first slate of inductees included Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley and Little Richard. Robert Johnson, Jimmie Rodgers and Jimmy Yancey were honored as early influences. The first non-performers honored were producer Sam Phillips and disc jockey Alan Freed. Talent scout/producer John Hammond was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement award.” HO

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