On this day in music history: August 25, 1973 - “Brother Louie” by The Stories hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 2 weeks. Written by Errol Brown and Tony Wilson, it is the biggest hit for the pop/rock band from New York City. Formed in 1972 by lead vocalist and bassist Ian Lloyd (born Lloyd Buonconsiglio) and keyboardist Michael Brown (born Michael Lookofsky), both are the sons of prominent New York session musicians, Brown being the son of famed studio violinist and arranger Harry Lookofsky. When Lloyd and Brown put together The Stories, also including Steve Love (guitar) and Bryan Madey (drums), the pair seek to incorporate their musical influences, specifically The Beatles. Michael Brown had previously explored this territory during the 60’s as a songwriter and member of The Left Banke, co-writing their two biggest hits “Walk Away Renee” and “Pretty Ballerina”. Signed to Kama Sutra Records, their debut album barely scrapes the bottom half of the chart (#182 Pop), with “I’m Coming Home” stopping at #42 on the Hot 100. Three other singles also bubble under the chart or miss it all together. Before the band start recording their second album, Michael Brown leaves the band. He is replaced by bassist Kenny Aaronson and keyboardist Ken Bichel. They record their second album “About Us” with producer and engineer Eddie Kramer. It is released in May of 1973 along with the single “Darling” (#111 Bubbling Under). During this time, the band hears the song “Brother Louie”, originally recorded by the British band Hot Chocolate. Written by lead singer Errol Brown and bassist Tony Wilson, it is about an interracial love affair between a black woman and a white man, and the conflict it causes with the mans parents who are against the relationship. They record it with producers Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise (Gladys Knight & The Pips, KISS). They give it a slightly slower and more syncopated rhythm to Hot Chocolate’s, adding the distinctive and striking string arrangement that becomes one of the signatures of The Stories version. Released as a single just weeks after their sophomore album, “Louie” doesn’t take long to make an impact. Entering the Hot 100 at #83 on June 23, 1973, it climbs to the top of the chart nine weeks later. Kama Sutra acts quickly, re-pressing the “About Us” album with “Brother Louie” inserted at the end of side two, propelling the album into the top 30. Despite having a chart topping single, The Stories time together is brief, spitting up in 1974. “Brother Louie” has stood the test of time as one of the quintessential 70’s songs, being covered by Roy Ayers, The Undisputed Truth, and The Quireboys. The song is used as the theme for comedian and actor Louis C.K.’s hit series “Louie” on FX. A new version of the song with slightly altered lyrics is recorded, and features original lead singer Ian Lloyd performing the vocal. “Brother Louie” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
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