Friday, 28 October 2016

Norman Whitfield Musical Legacy Lives On Pt.3

Rose Royce II.jpg
Rose Royce first successful studio album
produced by Norman Whitfield
Whitfield's record company achieved 
several gold and platinum 
records with Rose Royce while they were signed to his label, in the process generating millions in gross earnings between the USA and the UK in which  he produced the "In Full Bloom" (1977) and "Strikes Again" (1978). The first album studio features the legendary Jack Ashford former member of The Funk Brothers and Paul Riser conducting strings arrangements.  Former Motown studio musicians Melvin "Wah Wah" Watson, Cornelius Grant with legendary Gene Page on
Strikes Again 1978.jpg
Rose Royce second most successful studio
album also produced Norman Whitfield
 strings arrangements (also famous  for working with the late Barry white). are featured on the second studio album. The single "Love Don't Live Anymore" from the second studio album managed to achieve gold certification in the UK for over half-a-million copies on the 1st October 1978 and peaked at number two on the UK Official Pop Singles Chart week-ending 16th September 1978 (1week) .The album "In Full Bloom"also  peaked at number one on the Billboard Soul and R&B Albums Chart week-ending 1st October 1977 (3 non-consecutive weeks). Further success was achieved by the band's greatest hit album "Rose Royce Greatest Hits" which obtained platinum certification in the UK from BPI and topped the Official UK Pop Albums Chart week-ending 1st March 1980 (2 weeks). 
Rose Royce Greatest Hits.jpg
The band's UK certified platinum album

 A single sampled version of “Car Wash” was released in 2004 from the soundtrack album entitled “Shark Tale” The version was number 4 on the official UK Pop Chart in 2004 and achieved gold certification according to the BPI (British Phonograph Industry) for 100,000 copies sold in the UK. The soundtrack was also certified gold in Australia with 35,000 copies and New Zealand with 7,500 copies. In 2011,  The X Finalists re-recorded "Wish Upon A Star." The song debuted at number one week-ending 10th December 2011 (1 week) on the Official UK Pop Singles Chart and also Scottish Singles Chart the same week. The single sold in excess of 98,000 plus copies in its first week. The single also received a silver disc for units sold in excess of quarter- a-million copies in the UK, which was awarded on 1st February 1978 by  BPI. 

The royalties he has earned over the last ten years averaged approximately half a million dollars per year. This gives you an idea of the income potential and how the music industry benefited from Norman’s creative ability by generating vast earnings across the globe through advertisements, films soundtracks and new recordings.  This legendary and formidable brand shows every sign of impacting generations to come. The late Norman Whitfield is one of the top ten best record producers of the old school. Long live the Norman Whitfield sound.


Monday, 17 October 2016

Norman Whitfield Musical Legacy Lives On Pt.2

Whilst at Motown, in addition to his success with the Temptations, Norman produced gold singles and albums for Rare Earth, a white rock band. “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”, in the version performed by the late Marvin Gaye, was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant" value. In 1986, two years after Gaye's death, the song was re-released in the UK and peaked at number eight on the UK official Pop Singles Chart, thanks to a Levi's commercial. The song also charted successfully in Germany, peaking at number five on the chart. The song also achieved chart success twice on the Irish Singles Chart, reaching number seven on its initial release in 1969 and peaking at number four on its 1986 re-release.

Marvin Gaye's version of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” has since become a landmark in Pop music. In 2004, it ranked at number 80 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
On the commemorative 50th Anniversary of the Billboard Hot 100 issue of Billboard magazine in June 2008, Marvin Gaye's version was ranked as the 65th biggest song on the chart. It was also inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame for "historical, artistic and significant" value.

Before Norman left the Motown organisation, he received several Grammy Awards. "Cloud Nine" won Motown Records its first Grammy Award in1969. He received a second Grammy award for “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone" for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group and he finally received Grammy awards for the instrumental B-side to “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone" with the legendary Motown strings arranger Paul Riser for Best R&B Instrumental Performance and a joint award with co- writer Barrett Strong for Best R&B Song “Psychedelic Soul” the same year at the Grammy Ceremony.

 The legendary Motown strings arranger Paul Riser received a Grammy with Norman for Best R&B Instrumental Performance and joint award with co-writer Barrett Strong for Best R&B Song “Psychedelic Soul” the same year at the Grammy Ceremony.

"Car Wash" soundtrack
After his departure from Motown Records he went on to have tremendous success with a film sound track called “Car Wash” which was his first major project after leaving Motown Records. The album and single were certified gold and platinum by the RIAA (Record Industry Association of America). The single went on to achieve number one both on the Billboard Pop and R&B single chart listings, whilst the album went to number 14 on the Billboard Pop album chart listings. The soundtrack won a Grammy award in 1977 for Album of Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or Television Special at the 19th Grammy Award Ceremony. The film cost less than $2 million to make and generated over $20 million at the box office. By the end of the 1970s, it is interesting to note that black soundtracks and films generated over $100 million in estimated
revenue, marketed mainly to black audiences.  


Norman Whitfield Musical Legacy Lives On Pt.1

The mastermind Norman Whitfield
Norman Whitfield was born on 12th May1940 in Harlem, New York and passed away on 16th September 2008 in Los Angeles at the age of 68. He founded Whitfield Records in Los Angeles after his departure from Motown Records. He was known as the father of the “Psychedelic Funk” sound. Longer songs, heavy bass line, distorted guitars, multi-tracked drums and inventive vocal arrangements became the trademarks of Norman’s production outputs, mainly with The Temptations.

The Grammy Award studio project and
first for Motown Records and
Norman Whitfield
He developed the sound with the help of the Motown studio band “The Funk Brothers”, with the assistance of the legendary Paul Riser as conductor and strings and horns arranger. His innovative music production concentrated more on instrumentation and put less focus on vocals, which was a major departure from the Motown signature sound, the “Sound of Young America”, that made production and song-writing team Holland, Dozier and Holland famous.

Prior to Norman Whitfield’s departure from Motown Records, he produced and co-wrote with Barrett Strong the majority of The Temptations’ recording projects during the first ten years of the label’s operation into the early 1970s, with such songs as “Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me)”, “Ball Confusion”, “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and “I Can’t Get Next to You”. All these singles achieved 
platinum certification in America for selling over two million plus copies each. "Cloud Nine" won Motown Records its first Grammy Award, for Best R&B Vocal Group Performance of 1969. The Temptations’ recording projects produced by Norman featured the funky psychedelic sound which eventually created a large body of gold, platinum and multi-platinum certifications that still continue in the UK and America into the 21st Century, making The Temptations the most certified black male vocal group in music history. He also produced the last major single at the old Studio A recording studio before it was turned into  museum.The single was "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" which received platinum award by RIAA for over two million copies sold in America and peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart week-ending 2nd December 1972 (1 week).
The gold certified album "All Directions"
that features "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone"

This demonstrates the excellent production ability of Whitfield and the sound engineer at the time, the legendary Russ Terrana (a white man who was responsible for the sound engineering and mixing of over 89 number one records for Motown Records from the mid 1960s to early 1970s) and the brilliance of The Funk Brothers studio band. The musical compositions of Norman and Barrett reflected the social unrest and violent disturbances that took place across America’s inner cities after the death of Martin Luther King and also America’s involvement in the Vietnam War during the late 1960s. Musically they were totally in tune with the current events of that time.     



About Me

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Old Harlow, Essex, United Kingdom
Kevin Tomlin has over 34 years of teaching experience in Jamaica, England and America, including 15 years teaching music history of black origin and visual art in South Florida, U.S.A., through Arts in Education. Tomlin created special training programmes and workshops for music teachers in South Florida schools, using music history as the foundation, to build exciting programmes of study and support materials for education professionals. Since 2000, he’s taught music history, geography, religious education, history, visual arts and performing arts at schools in Hertfordshire and Essex, at both primary and secondary levels. He conducts research and provides consultancy services for multi-media organisations, schools, recording artists, cultural and faith-based groups and entertainment professionals.

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