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On this day in music history: October 17, 1987 - “Lost In Emotion” by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week, also topping the R&B singles chart for 1 week on October 3, 1987. Written and produced by Full Force, it is the second chart topping single for the R&B/Freestyle group from New York, NY. Fresh off the success of their 1985 Platinum selling debut, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam return to the studio with Full Force to work on their sophomore release “Spanish Fly”. It quickly hits paydirt with the Motown influenced first single “Head To Toe”, topping the pop and R&B singles charts in June of 1987. While writing songs for the groups’ second album, Full Force takes inspiration from “The Motown Sound” again when the band are listening to Mary Wells’ greatest hits album. The song that becomes “Lost In Emotion” is inspired by Wells’ hits “Two Lovers” and “You Beat Me To The Punch”. The songs retro feel combined with Lisa Lisa’s sweet voice proves just as irresistible as its predecessor to fans and radio, when it is released as a single in July of 1987. Entering the Hot 100 at #76 on August 1, 1987, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. “Lost In Emotion” is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Inside Harry Styles’ Intimate First Solo Tour

Music director Tom Hull reveals how the One Direction star is launching a new phase of his career with help from a versatile live band

Just a half hour before doors open for Harry Styles’ first show of his debut solo tour, San Francisco’s Masonic is completely empty. Band and crew members are buzzing backstage, including Styles himself, not yet wearing the snazzy Gucci suit he would be seen sporting onstage just hours later.

Outside, more than 3,000 fans wait to see the 23-year-old perform in one of the smallest venues they may ever catch him in. They’re decked out in a variety of homemade merchandise as well as florals and pinks, a tribute to the singer’s fashion and album aesthetic.

“It’s funny because as this tour’s approached, I’ve been so nervous,” Styles’ music director and producer Tom Hull, known professionally as Kid Harpoon, tells Rolling Stonebackstage while clutching a chalice of wine and wearing a pin that reads “Muna Has Possibly Talked to Harry Styles,” given out for free by opening band Muna at their merch table.

Until this tour, Hull’s work with other artists had been primarily in the studio, producing and co-writing for artists like Haim, Florence and the Machine and Shakira. He had been introduced to Styles through a mutual friend and ended up working on the songs “Sweet Creature” and “Carolina.” Thanks to their musical chemistry, Styles ended up asking Hull to help him put together a live show to perfectly embody the rootsy, rock-tinged sound of his self-titled album.

“I’ve gone into it not knowing what I’m doing [and] learning on the job,” he admits. “We’re all sort of approaching it with a fresh perspective because we haven’t done it before, but it [has us] keeping with what the record’s about.”

To help translate Styles’ solo sound, the first goal was to get a traditional band together. Guitarist Mitch Rowland had been plucked from a pizza shop where he formerly worked to become a session musician for the album and has joined Styles’ touring band as well.

“Mitch has never really toured like this before,” Hull says. “He’s learning on the road as he goes.”

Joining Rowland are keyboardist Clare Uchima, bassist Alex Predergast and drummer Sarah Jones, all of whom had made their debut with Styles during the televised and small club performances around the release of his album. The band began to feel settled long before the tour launched, but Hull sees their relationship becoming further cemented with this trek.

“Bands become true bands on tour,” he explains. “Fans bought tickets [for this tour] before the album had come out, and the band wants to play to them. The idea is to cut our chops on this tour and get really good. Then next year, he’s got an arena tour.”

Still, on the first two nights, the band already felt like a cohesive unit. The first show perfectly bridged Styles’ past and present, demonstrating that he’s a star capable of holding his own outside of his boy band. Amidst the folk-y ballads and rousing rockers, he covered One Direction classics like “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Stockholm Syndrome” as well as one of his lesser-known writing credits: an Ariana Grande piano ballad titled “Just a Little Bit of Your Heart,” off the vocal diva’s 2014 album My Everything. “Honestly, I didn’t know he had written it,” Hull notes.

Styles has released just 10 songs under his own name, but the vast amount of material he had from his pre-solo career helped to fill out the set. “When the Strokes first came out, their album was 35 minutes long and they had to do Talking Heads songs to fill out the set,” he adds. “It’s quite good to be able to do [Harry’s] record and have other songs in the set because he’s written so much music with [and outside of] One Direction. We’re presenting it in a way that sort of reflects the record and where he’s at now, which feels unique to Harry.”

In the months leading up to the tour launch in San Francisco, Hull, Styles and good friends of the latter sat around and began to formulate a vision. “It was like ‘Why don’t we do this? That would be fun,’” Hull describes of the process. “The thing that’s incredible about Harry that I don’t think people realize as much yet is that he drives it all. It’s very much his taste. He’s very musical; he plays guitar, plays piano and writes songs. He loves music.”

For Hull, working with Styles has disproven a common misconception of the pop megastar, one who is governed by his producers and label. Instead, the director paints a picture of a huge music nerd, one who is particularly passionate about classic rock and country, getting to explore his taste on his own terms.

“That was the hard thing, I think, in [One Direction] before,” he adds. “You’ve got a bunch of lads who all have different tastes in music and have their own personalities. Obviously it’s clear they’ve all done something different [as solo artists].”

Styles has been eager to share his tastes with Hull and the rest of the group. “He’s turning me on to music I’ve never even heard of from like 1978, and he’s texting people in the band 'Have you heard this? Have you heard that?” Hull says says, noting that on days off they go to guitar shops, looking at gear and “really geeky stuff.”

“For someone where he’s at, he just absolutely adores it, and it’s inspiring for everyone underneath.”

The next night in Los Angeles, the crowd is even more energetic as they filter into the Greek through the trees and hills of Griffith Park. A few glitches cropped up at the San Francisco gig — run-of-the-mill sound problems and a less expected fire alarm triggered by the theatrical smoke used during Muna’s set. For the Los Angeles show, the band feels even stronger and more focused.

“There was a bit of uncertainty, but I think everyone’s really happy and buzzing,” Hull updates from the Greek’s VIP section. That night, they were up against the added pressure that comes with a celebrity- and legend-filled audience, featuring everyone from Emma Roberts to Mick Fleetwood and Styles’ former groupmate Niall Horan. “You want to keep improving and getting it better. It feels like the first gig still.”

Even though he would perform a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” in front of Fleetwood himself, Styles was even looser at the Greek, dropping in cheekier ad libs and at one point halting “Kiwi,” the closer of the main set before his encore, to tease the troves of primarily female-identifying fans by highlighting the “I’m having your baby” line from the chorus. According to Hull, Styles was already prepared to start changing up the set list by night two, something the entire team collectively decided against as they were just starting out. (In Nashville the following weekend, however, they replaced the cover of “Stockholm Syndrome” with a rendition of Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush,” the first of many possibly new covers to be introduced on the road.)

The cover of One Direction’s most memorable hit “What Makes You Beautiful” remains the most surprising element of the show, especially since young solo artists typically tend to distance themselves from their pop pasts on the road to a more “mature” sound.

“At first, he was definitely cautiously up for it,” Hull says of the decision-making process. “I feel like those [One Direction] songs are brilliantly written songs, and obviously it was a moment where we had a conversation. Beyoncé does Destiny’s Child songs, so we were like 'Let’s do some of the songs that people will all know and everyone will love.’”

Styles’ band made sure to adapt the tune to fit the flow of the show. Uchima suggested a “Ray Charles–y vibe” for the keys, while drummer Jones added a “Motown-y beat” during rehearsals, and the group continued tinkering until they found the perfect balance of old and new.

“We all have so much respect for what put him here,” Hull adds, emphasizing Styles’ own desire to not fully let go of his past. “It’s an important part of it. You can’t underestimate his fans.”

3

The Supremes –  Diana Ross - Florence Ballard - Mary Wilson

The Supremes were an American female singing group and the premier act of Motown Records during the 1960s. America’s most successful vocal group with 12 number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100.  At their peak in the mid-1960s, the Supremes rivaled the Beatles in worldwide popularity, and it is said that their success made it possible for future R&B and soul musicians to find mainstream success.

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On this day in music history: August 31, 1964 - “Where Did Our Love Go”, the second album by The Supremes is released. Produced by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Smokey Robinson, Norman Whitfield and Robert Gordy, it is recorded at Motown Studio A in Detroit, MI from December 28, 1962 - July 13, 1964. The album features singles by the group released during 1963-64 including their first top 40 pop hit “When The Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes” (#23 Pop). It makes Billboard chart history when it becomes the first album to ever generate three number one pop singles (“Baby Love”, “Come See About Me” and the title track). It also spends an unprecedented 89 weeks on the Top 200, becoming Motown Records first album to sell over one million copies in the US. In 2004 to commemorate its fortieth anniversary, Universal Music Group’s Hip-O Select label releases a two CD Deluxe Edition of the album featuring remastered versions of both the original stereo and first digital release of the long out of print mono version, along with outtakes and a complete live performance recorded at the Twenty Grand Club in Detroit. It quickly sells out of its limited pressing of 10,000 copies, turning it into a sought after collector’s item by Supremes fans. “Where Did Our Love Go” spends four weeks at number two on the Billboard Top 200, and one week at number one on the R&B album chart.

Happy Birthday Mary Wilson!

View of Diana Ross, Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson of the Supremes standing on stage; Diana Ross stands at microphone. Banner in background reads: “Welcome the Supremes.” April 1971.

  • Courtesy of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Detroit Public Library
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On this day in music history: October 7, 1969 - “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5 is released. Written and produced by The Corporation (Deke Richards, Freddie Perren, Fonce Mizell and Berry Gordy, Jr.), it is the Gary, IN based family groups’ debut single for Motown Records. Originally titled “I Wanna Be Free” when it is first written, the song is originally intended for Gladys Knight & The Pips, then Diana Ross. After Motown puts the group under contract, label founder Berry Gordy, Jr. hears the demo recording, and then helps the rest of the writing team come up with a new concept for the song, re-writing the lyrics and tailoring it for the group. Recorded in August and September of 1969, the basic track and vocals are cut at The Sound Factory in Hollywood, CA and features musicians Freddie Perren and Joe Sample (keyboards), Wilton Felder (bass), Gene Pello (drums), Louis Shelton, David T. Walker and Don Peake (guitars), and Sandra Crouch (tambourine). Led by producer Deke Richards, the group spend weeks, recording and re-recording their vocals until Richards feels they have achieved perfection. The single is backed by the J5’s cover of the Smokey Robinson & The Miracles classic “Who’s Lovin’ You” that is produced by Bobby Taylor, the man actually responsible for bringing The Jackson 5 to Motown. Following several high profile television appearances to promote the single, including a now legendary performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in December, the record catapults The Jackson 5 into national and international stardom. “I Want You Back” spends 4 weeks at #1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart beginning on January 10, 1970, and for 1 week on the Hot 100 on January 31, 1970, shooting past the two million mark in sales in the US. The song is also a huge hit internationally, peaking at #2 on the UK singles chart, selling over six million copies worldwide.  In time, the record is widely regarded as one of the greatest pop singles of all time. “I Want You Back” is inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

The Beatles. I love the Beatles. The very first song in my memory is ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret?’ (EDDIE SINGS THE CHORUS) For years, I thought John was singing that song, but then I realized it was George. I remember standing by a radio and just listening to that song. Growing up, I liked all the stuff that everyone else was listening to, like Motown, but the biggest group of all was The Beatles.

Eddie Murphy (in response to the question, “Eddie, what was the first music to really connect with you growing up?”), Billboard, 22 November 2013

Who's Lovin You
The Jackson 5
Who's Lovin You

Song: Who’s Lovin You / I Want You Back

Artist: The Jackson 5

Record Label: Motown Records M 1157

Recorded: August 6, 1969

Released: October 7, 1969

Smokey Robinson and The Miracles originally recorded this song in 1960. Nearly every major Motown group followed up with their own cover including The Supremes, The Temptations, and Brenda Holloway.

The Jackson 5’s version managed to hit No. 1 on pop and R&B music charts leading to their subsequent performance on the Ed Sullivan show.

Because of Michael Jackson’s emotional performance, it became one his most requested hits until his voice started to change in 1972.

In memory of his work, Shaheen Jafargholi performed this song at Michael Jackson’s memorial service in July 2009.

Listen to the flip side “I Want You Back” here.

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Inside Harry Styles' Intimate First Solo Tour
Harry Styles' music director, Tom "Kid Harpoon" Hull, explains how he and the star put together the former One Direction star's first-ever solo tour.

Just a half hour before doors open for Harry Stylesfirst show of his debut solo tour, San Francisco’s Masonic is completely empty. Band and crew members are buzzing backstage, including Styles himself, not yet wearing the snazzy Gucci suit he would be seen sporting onstage just hours later.

Outside, more than 3,000 fans wait to see the 23-year-old perform in one of the smallest venues they may ever catch him in. They’re decked out in a variety of homemade merchandise as well as florals and pinks, a tribute to the singer’s fashion and album aesthetic.

“It’s funny because as this tour’s approached, I’ve been so nervous,” Styles’ music director and producer Tom Hull, known professionally as Kid Harpoon, tells Rolling Stone backstage while clutching a chalice of wine and wearing a pin that reads “Muna Has Possibly Talked to Harry Styles,” given out for free by opening band Muna at their merch table.

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