Today in rock history: on this date in 1988, synth-pop duo Erasure released its third album, The Innocents. The album became the group’s highest selling album and proved to be its breakthrough in several countries including the United States. The first in a long line of No. 1 albums in the band’s native England, the album featured the dance pop hit singles “Ship of Fools,” “Chains of Love” and “A Little Respect.” Formed by electronic music pioneer Vince Clarke — founder of Depeche Mode and Yaz (or Yazoo) — Erasure became one of the most successful synth-pop bands of the 1980s thanks to this highly successful album and the hits it produced. To date, The Innocents has sold over five million copies worldwide. Erasure will play Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on September 14 — more info on that show here.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1987, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” a duet featuring British pop singer George Michael and Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin hit the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s pop singles charts in America. The song marked the longest gap between No.1 singles for a pop artist as Franklin had scored her last chart-topper in 1967 with her classic, “Respect.” Michael was on a hot streak at the time and enjoyed his third consecutive No. 1 hit in his native England. The pairing fulfilled Michael’s longtime dream of singing with his favorite vocalist of all time and brought Aretha her one and only No. 1 single in the U.K. The single topped the U.S. charts for two straight weeks and reached the very top of sales charts in several countries around the world. “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” also charted highly on adult contemporary, dance and R&B charts In America as well.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1975, Texas-based blues/rock band ZZ Top released its fourth album, Fandango. Featuring one side recorded live in concert and another side made up of studio recordings, the album featured the band’s first ever chart hit single, the blues-tinged “Tush” which climbed to No. 20 on Billboard’s pop singles chart. The live side of the album featured the raucous trio stomping through a cover of “Jailhouse Rock,” a song popularized by Elvis Presley, as well as renditions of blues classics by legends Willie Dixon and John Lee Hooker. Fandango was a huge success for the band and peaked at No. 10 on Billboard’s pop albums chart.
Today in rock history: on this date in 1996, legendary bassist, songwriter, producer and singer Bernard Edwards passed away at the age of 43. Edwards was the co-founder of popular 1970s disco/funk band Chic along with guitarist Nile Rodgers. Besides all the cutting edge dance/disco classics Bernard added his to trademark heavy, booming bass sound, he and Rodgers also produced a pile of hit records for artists like Sister Sledge, Robert Palmer, Diana Ross, Duran Duran offshoot band The Power Station and Rod Stewart. Edwards and Chic were responsible for their own hits like “Good Times,” “I Want Your Love” and the quintessential disco song of the late 1970s “Le Freak”. Edwards performed one final show in Japan on the date of his death during which he fell ill. Upon resting at his hotel room after the performance, Bernard tragically passed away due to pneumonia. Bernard’s bass sound influenced countless artists and bands and he’s regularly regarded as one of the most influential pop music bass players of all time.