On this day in music history: March 29, 1975 - “Lady Marmalade” by LaBelle hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on February 22, 1975. Written by Bob Crewe and Kenny Nolan, it is the biggest hit for the R&B vocal trio featuring Patti Labelle, Nona Hendryx, and Sarah Dash. The song is originally recorded by The Eleventh Hour, a studio group fronted by singer and songwriter Kenny Nolan (“I Like Dreamin’), co-written with Four Seasons songwriter and producer Bob Crewe earlier in 1974. Producer Allen Toussaint hears the original version and record the song with LaBelle for their first Epic Records album "Nightbirds”. Featuring The Meters providing musical support, it is released as the first single from the album. Becoming a dance floor smash in discos in late 1974, the electrifying track soon makes its way on to R&B and pop radio. Entering the Hot 100 at #98 on January 4, 1975, it climbs to the top of the chart twelve weeks later. The song is re-recorded in by Christina Aguilera, Pink, Lil’ Kim, Mya, & Missy Elliott for the Baz Lurhmann film “Moulin Rouge”. They take the song to number one (for 5 weeks) again in June of 2001, winning a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals in 2002. LaBelle’s version of “Lady Marmalade” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
On this day in music history: March 29, 1986 - “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 3 weeks. Written by Falco, Rob Bolland and Ferdi Bolland, it is the biggest hit for the Austrian pop singer born Johann Holzel. Having previously scored a sizable hit on the US Dance charts with his original version of the song “Der Kommissar” in early 1983, Falco’s own version is bested on the Hot 100 by a cover version from British pop band After The Fire whose version peaks at #5 in April of 1983. When his second album “Junge Roemer” fails to yield any hits outside of his native Austria, he soon regroups, setting his sights on breaking through on a worldwide basis with his third album. Falco is inspired to write “Rock Me Amadeus” after seeing the Oscar winning film “Amadeus”, about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The US single of the song contains two different mixes, “The American Edit” and the “Canadian Edit”, the latter features a narrator reciting a timeline of the life of the famed Austrian classical composer. Entering the Hot 100 at #79 on February 8, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart seven weeks later. “Rock Me Amadeus” is the first German language single to hit number one in the US, also topping the charts in the UK, Canada, and New Zealand. In the US, A&M Records releases two different 12" singles of the track. The first is an extended version of the “American Edit”, and a second titled the “Salieri Mix” (packaged in a picture jacket), incorporates elements of the “Canadian Edit” including the timeline of Mozart’s life. Another remix is issued in foreign territories closely mirroring the original album version, but with an extended running time. In the years since its worldwide chart success, “Amadeus” is sampled, covered and parodied numerous times including on an episode of “The Simpsons” animated series, when the song is re-written as “Dr. Zaius”, after one of the main characters from the “Planet Of The Apes” film series. Falco scores one more US top twenty single with the follow up “Vienna Calling” (#18 Pop) in June of 1986. After moving from A&M to Sire Records in late 1986, he continues to be successful in Europe, but his American chart run is over by then. Sadly, Falco is killed in a car accident while on vacation in the Dominican Republic on February 6, 1998, less than two weeks shy of his forty first birthday. He is laid to rest in his birthplace of Vienna, Austria.
On this day in music history: March 29, 1982 - “The Number Of The Beast”, the third album by Iron Maiden is released. Produced by Martin Birch, it is recorded at Battery Studios in London from January - February 1982. Following the release and tour for their second album “Killers”, the band’s previous lead singer Paul Di'Anno is fired due to his ongoing alcohol and cocaine abuse. The follow up album is the first to feature new lead singer Bruce Dickinson who contributes heavily to the new material, but is unable to receive proper credit for legal reasons. Spinning off three singles including “Run To The Hills”, it is the bands most successful release to date, and is regarded as a landmark heavy metal album. Following the release of the album, a number of stories about its recording circulate in the music press and among fans about by several unexplained events that take place during the recording. Several times, the lights inside of Battery Studios switch on and off on their own, recording gear breaks down mysteriously, and producer Martin Birch is involved in a minor car accident running into a bus transporting a group of nuns. Reportedly, he receives a bill for damages amounting to £666. First issued on CD in 1987, it is remastered and reissued in 1998 as a double CD (Europe only) and single disc set. The import edition features two bonus tracks on the second CD (an enhanced CD)with the music videos for “Run To The Hills” and the title track. Out of print on vinyl for over two decades, it is reissued by UMe (Universal Music Enterprises) in 2012 as a limited edition picture disc. “The Number Of The Beast” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking at number thirty three on the Hot 100, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.