Sunday, June 24, 2012

THE FIRST TIME: PART SIXTEEN


"OOOOOOOHHH. . .ON THE TLC TIP" - TLC (1992)


Atlanta teenager, Crystal Jones wanted to find two other female singers to start a group called 2nd Nature. She eventually found Tionne Watkins and a rapper, Lisa Lopes and the band was formed in 1990. 2nd Nature managed to get an audition with Peri Reid, who is better known as r&b singer, Pebbles and the then-wife of producer, Antonio "L.A." Reid. She had started a management company and was looking for talent. Reid was impressed by the trio and brought them to LaFace Records that was run by her husband and singer/producer, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. They signed the group but dropped Jones and replaced her with back-up dancer, Rozonda Thomas and renamed the trio, "TLC" . Peri Reid became thier manager and each girl was given a nickname; Thomas became "Chilli", Watkins was named "T-Boz" and Lopes would be known as "Left-Eye".

The debut album was recorded in short order with top producers, Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri and "L.A." and Babyface and "Ooooooohh. . .On The TLC Tip" (awful title) was released in 1992. The album became an immediate smash, selling over four million copies and featured three top-ten hits; "Ain't 2 Proud To Beg", "What About Your Friends" and "Baby-Baby-Baby". Their music videos helped form their playful image as they wore over-sized, bright-colored clothes with condoms attached to promote safer sex. After completing their first tour opening for MC Hammer, the group decided to end their business relationship with Reid, although she continued to receive royalties from future projects.

During the recording of TLC's second album, Lopes was in rehab dealing with a drinking problem so due to that, Watkins and Thomas became the focus on the tracks. "Crazy Sexy Cool" was released in 1994 and would become the biggest success of their careers.All four singles reached the top-five on the U.S. pop chart with two, "Creep" and "Waterfalls" making it to number one. The album would sell an incredible eleven million copies in America alone and won the trio two Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance By A Duo Or Group.

The next TLC album was delayed due to the group's main producer, Dallas Austin wanting more financial compensation for his work which was made more complicated because he was dating Thomas by this time and they had a son, Tron. Each member decided to work on solo music or film projects during this stand-off. An agreement was finally reached and the third album, "Fan Mail" was released in 1999. Austin took TLC to a more pop sound and it became another smash for the group. The two singles, "No Scrubs" and "Unpretty" both reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and TLC won three more Grammys for this project including Best R&B Album. During this time, Lopes increasingly grew unhappy due to her limited participation in TLC and became unpleasantly vocal about this. The differences were settled and it was decided that the group should take some time off. Lopes released a solo album, "Super Nova" in 2001 and although it became a minor hit in the U.K., it was never released in the U.S.

The following year, TLC had begun work on their next album with Dallas Austin but recording had to be postponed because Watkins became very ill due to complications from sickle-cell anemia. After Watkins recovered, Lopes had taken off to Honduras to work on a second solo album and record a documentary, so the other two members of the band considered plans on going forward as a duo. On April 25, 2002, Lisa Lopes was killed in a car crash.  It was decided to complete the album and "3D" was released six months after the death of "Left-Eye" but TLC would disband after this recording. The album was not as successful as  their previous works but achieved some minor radio play.

Over the years, "Chilli" and "T-Boz" have come back together as TLC for occasional television appearances and a small "Greatest Hits" concert tour through Asia. There has even been talk of them even possibly recording another album together in the near future.

"What About Your Friends" - TLC (1992)

Enjoy the beautifully sexy vid for "Creep" where the girls never looked lovelier thanks to the work of photographer/director. Mathew Ralston




"DAMN THE TORPEDOES" - TOM PETTY & THE HEARTBREAKERS (1979)


He was born in 1950 and grew-up in Gainesville, FL, Tom Petty decided he wanted to be a rock & roll singer at the age of ten after watching Elvis Presley while he was shooting the film, "Follow That Dream" in nearby Ocalia. After learning to play the bass and guitar, Petty formed several bands as a teenager. He put together, Mudcrutch in 1970 which consisted of Danny Roberts on guitar, Mike Campbell on guitar, keyboardist, Benmont Tench and Randall Marsh as the drummer. The group became a popular local band which lead to them being signed to the L.A. based label, Shelter Records in 1974.  Mudcrutch released a single, "Depot Street" the following year but it failed to garner any national success. The label dropped the band, and some musicians moved on. Petty considered going solo but decided to continue with Campbell and Tench and recruited Ron Blair and Stan Lynch and became Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.

Their self-titled debut was released on Shelter in 1976. It was barely noticed in the U.S. but received a lot of attention in Britain following a tour of the country. A single,"Anything That's Rock & Roll"  reached the top forty there and this buzz made it back to America.  Another single from the album, "Breakdown" was re-released in the U.S. and made it to number forty on the pop chart with the album eventually selling a half a million copies. Petty and the band quickly released a follow-up album, "You're Gonna Get It" in 1978. While the none of the singles had any major impact but this album also managed to go gold.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers' big breakthrough came with their 1979 third release, "Damn The Torpedoes" with two singles, "Don't Do Me Like That' and "Refugee" both making it in to the U.S. top twenty. The album would ultimately sell over two million copies.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers enjoyed several hit albums and successful tours over the following years. Petty would record three "solo" album, although members of The Heartbreakers participated on some of the projects, with the most successful being his first, 1989's "Full Moon River" which sold five million copies in the U.S. alone.

In 1988, Petty, along with rock legends, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne (of Electric Light Orchestra), formed a super group called The Traveling Wilburys and recorded a self-titled album. It became a surprise hit, selling three million copies and won them a Grammy for Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group.

Petty has been known for his insistence on artistic control and freedom as he balked when his label was sold and bought by MCA Records in 1979 and he was going to be moved to a new label without his consent. He also loudly objected with MCA when they were going to sell his 1981 album, "Hard Promises" for a dollar more than standard due to their idea of "superstar pricing" and eventually dropped the plan.

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers have recorded twelve studio albums with their latest being, "Mojo" in 2010, were inducted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2002 and the band has sold over sixty million album over their career.

"Don't Do Me Like That" - Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (1979)

This delightfully,quirky music video for the 1985 song, "Don't Come Around Here No More" features an "Alice In Wonderland" theme with Petty as "the Mad Hatter". Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics co-wrote this song and appears at the beginning of the video as" the Caterpillar":




"FOREVER YOUR GIRL" - PAULA ABDUL (1988)


Paula Abdul was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, California in 1962. She attended Van Nuys High school where she was a cheerleader and honor student. As a child, Paula always love Hollywood musicals and dreamed of becoming a professional dancer.

While attending college in Northridge, Paula auditioned and was selected to become part of The Lakers Girls, the cheerleading squad for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. She quickly became the head choreographer for the squad and eventually dropped out of school to pursue a dancing career.

Abdul had met members of the Jacksons during Lakers games and she was approached to choreograph the music video for "Torture", a song from their 1984 album, "Victory". After this, she was asked to work on the Jacksons' "Victory" tour.  This began her career as a much sought after choreographer as she worked on films ("Big", "Coming To America"), television ("The Tracey Ullman Show", "The American Music Awards"), commercials and music videos with her most influential work was with Janet Jackson at the beginning of her fame. Paula even made an appearance in Jackson's video for the song, "Nasty".

Although she had no experience as a singer but because of her skills as a dancer, it was felt that she would be perfect in the visual age of music television. Abdul signed with Virgin Records, worked with a vocal coach, and with producers who could help shape her sound and "Forever Your Girl" was released in 1988. After the first two singles failed to get much traction, the third, "Straight Up" became a surprise hit, becoming her first number one song. The title track, "Cold-Hearted" and "Opposites Attract" would each follow to the top of the U.S. pop chart. Even her first two singles were re-released and had much bigger success. The album would go on to sell twelve million copies worldwide and win her a Grammy Award for Best Music Video for "Opposites Attract".

A dark cloud would damper Abdul's success as she and her record label were sued in 1991 by Yvette Marine, a background singer on the album and an original member of The Mary Jane Girls, who claims that she provided "co-lead" vocals on several tracks and wanted compensation but Marine lost the case.

Abdul released her follow-up, "Spellbound" which also became a major success, selling over seven million copies. The album's first two singles, "Rush Rush" (with a music video that featured actor, Keanu Reeves) and "Promise Of A New Day" both reached number one and two other songs made it in to the top-ten on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. She would also embark on her first world tour.

Although her 1995 album, "Head Over Heels" would go on to sell three million copies, but the singles did not receive much radio play. Abdul decided to put her music career on hold and focused on other projects such as starring in a TV movie and returned to choreographing film and theater.

In 2002, Abdul was asked to be a judge on a reality television music competition program, "American Idol" (which was based on the British show, "Pop Idol") along with musician, Randy Jackson and British A&R executive, Simon Cowell.  The show became a ratings smash and helped introduce several of today's top musical stars such as Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood. During her time on the show, Abdul returned to the music charts for the first time in thirteen years with a song off of Randy Jackson's album, "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow". The song made it to number two on the dance chart in 2008. Paula decided to leave "Idol" in 2009 and was replaced with comedian, Ellen DeGeneres.

Abdul executive produced and was the lead judge on the 2011 dance competition show, "Live To Dance" but the program only lasted one season. Later that year, Simon Cowell (who left "Idol" in 2010) asked her to join him as one of the judges on the American version of "The X Factor" along with record producer, "L.A." Reid and singer, Nicole Scherzinger. The show didn't do nearly as well as the network would have liked but the show will return for another season however without Scherzinger or Abdul.

Paula Abdul has been married twice; first to actor, Emillio Estevez in 1992 but it ended in divorce in 1994. She then married fashion designer, Brad Beckerman in 1996 but the couple split by 1998.

"Straight Up" - Paula Abdul (1988)

The video for "Cold-Hearted" featured Bob Fosse-styled dance moves and is one of her best:

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