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, 1991 - “Surprise”, the debut album by Crystal Waters is released. Produced by The Basement Boys, it is recorded at The Basement Boys Studio in Baltimore, MD from Mid 1990 - Early 1991. Waters, the great niece of famed jazz singer and actress Ethel Waters, collaborates with house music producers The Basement Boys on her debut release. Having graduated from Howard University in 1985 with a degree in business and computer science, she works as computer technician for the Washington DC parole board before continuing her ambition to work in the music industry. Her breakthrough smash “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” (#1 Club Play, #8 Pop, #2 UK) is originally recorded as a demo for house music diva Ultra Naté in 1989. When the producers hear Waters vocals on the demo, they insist on recording the final version with her instead of Ultra Naté. An instant dance floor classic, single quickly rises up from the underground club scene to crossover to pop radio in the US, selling over a half million copies. “Gypsy” is also parodied by comedienne Kim Wayans on the hit series “In Living Color”. It spins off three singles including “Makin’ Happy” (#1 Club Play) and the title track. “Surprise” peaks at one hundred ninety seven on the Billboard Top 200, and number sixty five on the R&B album chart.