R&B

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On this day in music history: February 18, 1978 - “Too Hot Ta Trot” by the Commodores hits #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart for 1 week, also peaking at #24 on the Hot 100 on February 11, 1978. Written by Thomas McClary, Milan Williams, William King, Walter Orange, Ronald LaPread and Lionel Richie, it is the fourth chart topping single for the R&B/Funk band from Tuskgee, AL. By 1977, The Commodores hit their stride in a major way with the release of their self-titled fifth album. As it is riding the charts and the band are touring in support of it, their manager Benny Ashburn receives an offer for them to appear in a film. The film in question is the disco themed comedy “Thank God It’s Friday”, a joint venture between Casablanca Record & Filmworks and Motown Productions. The band agree to the offer and are also asked to write a song for the sequence in the film where they perform at The Zoo disco. The club location in “Friday” is actually the legendary Osko’s Disco on S. La Cienega Blvd in Los Angeles, famously photographed on the front and back cover of GQ’s “Disco Nights” album. On an extremely tight deadline, The Commodores are given only a day to record a song, as well as three days on set filming their scenes. The inspiration for “Too Hot Ta Trot” comes from a character in the film named Jackie (played by actress Mayra Small), with drummer and vocalist Walter Orange coming with the phrase and turning it into a chant. The other members of band pitch in, and the song is completed and recorded and recorded in the studio in one day. Featuring Walter Orange and Lionel Richie trading off lead vocals, “Trot” is included on “The Commodores Live” album and the soundtrack to “Thank God It’s Friday”, and is as a single by Motown on November 17, 1977. One of the funkiest cuts ever recorded by Alabama based funkateers, it is an immediate hit on R&B radio and on the dance floor. Entering the Hot 100 at #77 on December 17, 1977, and the R&B singles chart at #51 on December 24, 1977, “Trot” hits the top of the R&B chart and the top 30 on the pop chart within two months. Though “Thank God It’s Friday” takes a major drubbing from critics, it performs well at the box office, and The Commodores single drives their live album to number two the R&B album chart, number three on the Top 200, selling over a million copies in the US.