On this day in music history: February 13, 1983 - Marvin Gaye performs “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 33rd NBA All-Star Game at The Forum in Inglewood, California. Just ten days before winning two Grammy Awards for his comeback smash “Sexual Healing”, the R&B legend sings the National Anthem prior the All-Star Game airing on the CBS television network. Working with his frequent musical collaborator and brother-in-law, guitarist Gordon Banks, Gaye and Banks craft a highly distinctive and stripped down version of “The Star Spangled Banner”, played on keyboards and a Roland TR-808 drum machine. Not having performed in front of an audience in several years, Marvin’s legendary stage fright resurfaces during rehearsals, causing NBA officials to worry as to whether the singer will be able to pull it together. However, all concerns are quickly forgotten when Gaye strides confidently out to center court, impeccably dressed and wearing dark shades. Marvins’ effortlessly soulful and smooth performance draws enthusiastic hollers and screams from the crowd throughout, ending in thunderous applause throughout the arena. The performance goes down in history as one of the most memorable and beloved renditions of the National Anthem by any artist. Following the game, the footage of Gaye’s performance is rebroadcast on major news outlets, and later becomes the first video shown on the newly launched music video channel VH-1 on January 1, 1985. The video is included in the “Motown On Showtime” program on the late singer released in 1988. The audio portion of Marvin Gaye’s “Star Spangled Banner” is released on the CD box set “Marvin Gaye - The Master (1961 - 1984)” in 1995.
On this day in music history: June 20, 1981 - “Stars On 45 Medley” by Stars On 45 hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Robbie Van Leeuwen, Jeff Barry, Andy Kim, Jaap Eggermont, Martinus Dusier, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the biggest hit for the Dutch studio group formed by Jaap Eggermont. The idea for the medley comes about when music publisher Willem van Kooten discovers a bootleg 12" being sold “under the counter” at record stores in Holland featuring numerous pop classics including The Shocking Blue’s “Venus” which he controls the copyright to. Not wanting to lose out on royalties, he contacts former Golden Earring (“Radar Love”) drummer Jaap Eggermont about producing a similar medley using cover versions of numerous songs. Recording with Dutch musicians and vocalists, Eggermont records covers of several songs from the bootleg medley, and add several more Beatles songs to the mix. The finished track runs over fifteen and half minutes in its entirety. The US single lists all of the medleys titles (officially titled: “Medley: Intro Venus / Sugar Sugar / No Reply / I’ll Be Back / Drive My Car / Do You Want to Know a Secret / We Can Work It Out / I Should Have Known Better / Nowhere Man / You’re Going to Lose That Girl / Stars on 45”) on the single label, and makes history as the longest song title ever to ever appear the Billboard pop singles chart.
Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on April 11, 1981, it climbs to the top of the chart ten weeks later.
The medley is a huge worldwide hit, and in the US it temporarily interrupts Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” nine week run at number one on the Hot 100. The accompanying album “Stars On Long Play” also becomes a best seller, peaking at #9 on the Billboard Top 200 in July of 1981. The huge worldwide success of the first Stars On 45 single inspires a number of follow up records over the next two years, featuring the music of Stevie Wonder, The Carpenters, ABBA, and even a medley released by Capitol Records in the US editing the original versions of Beatles classics together. “Stars On 45 Medley” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.