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Jul 10 17 6:59 PM
Ken Shane lives in Wakefield, RI. He is the New
Music Editor for Popdose, and a freelance writer. Ken is far and away
the oldest Popdose writer, in fact, he may be the oldest writer period.
He wants you to know that he generally does not share his colleagues
love for the music of the '80s, and he does not forgive them for loving
Gene Chandler’s extraordinary career spanned the doo-wop, r&b, soul, and disco eras.
Gene Chandler (born Eugene Dixon) grew up on the South Side of
Chicago. He began his music career in the early ’50s with a band called
the Gaytones. Later in the decade he became a member of the Dukays.
Chandler’s singing career was interrupted when he was drafted into the
Army, but by 1960 he had returned to the Dukays, and was their lead
singer when they signed with Nat Records. Their first single for the
label was “The Girl is a Devil,” which was released in 1961. The record
reached a respectable #64 on the Pop chart.
A subsequent Dukays session for Nat Records resulted in four more
tracks, including “Nite Owl,” and “Duke of Earl.” When the record
company fatefully decided to release “Nite Owl” as the group’s next
single, producers ‘Bunky’ Sheppard and Carl Davis shopped “Duke of Earl”
and landed a deal with Vee Jay Records to release it as a solo single
for Chandler. The record sold a million copies in just over a month and
topped the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. Chandler played the part to the hilt, donning a top hat, cape, and monocle, and billing himself as ‘The Duke.’
By 1963, Chandler had left Vee Jay, and signed with Constellation
Records. His hits for Constellation included “Just Be True,” and
“Nothing Can Stop Me,” both penned by Curtis Mayfield, and produced by
Davis. When Constellation went belly-up on 1966, Chandler moved on to
Chess Records, then to Brunswick Records. The two labels actually
alternated Chandler releases for some period of time.
More hits followed, including “What Now,” “Rainbow,” “I Fooled You
This Time,” “Think About It,” “A Man’s Temptation,” “Rainbow ’65”
(record live at the Regal Theater in Chicago), and “Bless Our Love.” But
Chandler grew weary of constant performing, and looked to get into
record production. One of his biggest successes as a producer was Mel
& Tim’s 1969 smash “Backfield in Motion.” The record was a Top 10
hit on the Billboard Hot 100.
Jul 10 17 7:17 PM
Chandler was not done as a singer however. He released “Groovy
Situation” in 1970, and it became his second biggest single, after “Duke
of Earl.” The song was written by Russell Lewis and Herman Davis, and
had originally been recorded by Mel & Tim. Chandler’s version
reached #12 on the Billboard Hot 100, went Top 10 on the R&B chart, and sold a million copies.
Chandler collaborated with Jerry Butler on the album Gene and Jerry: One on One later in 1970. He sang with Curtis Mayfield on the live album Curtis in Chicago in 1973, and with Arthur Louis on the Knocking on Heaven’s Door
album, which also featured Eric Clapton, the following year. Chandler
released four singles on Mayfield’s Curtom label, but none of them had
any chart success.
Later in the decade Chandler found renewed success in the disco era.
His hits from that period included “Get Down,” “When You’re #1,” and
“Does She Have a Friend?” It was also during this time that Chandler was
named Executive Vice President of Chi Sound Records.
Chandler continues to perform in the U.S. and Europe. His
extraordinary career spanned the doo-wop, rhythm & blues, soul, and
disco era. Chandler is a Grammy Hall of Fame inductee, and was given a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm & Blues Foundation. He was inducted into the Official Rhythm & Blues Music Hall of Fame in 2014.
Jul 11 17 12:50 AM
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