Toto's "Africa" hit no. 1 exactly 36 years ago today

It will never die.

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Today in rock history: On this date in 1983, California-based pop-rock band Toto scored its first (and only) no. 1 single on Billboard’s pop chart. “Africa,” a catchy soft rock tune from the band’s aptly titled fourth album, Toto IV, benefitted from MTV, which put the video in heavy rotation. Another hit from Toto IV —“Rosanna” — helped the album reach multi-platinum status, but it was “Africa” that topped U.S. singles charts for five straight weeks. Recently, “Africa” has reached a whole new, younger audience thanks to a 2018 cover version by alt-rock band Weezer.

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Today in rock history: on this date in 1979, The Pointer Sisters earned their very first gold single with the Bruce Springsteen-written “Fire,” which climbed as high as no. 2 on Billboard’s pop chart. The song was supposed to be on Springsteen’s 1978 album, Darkness on the Edge of Town, and was originally written with Elvis Presley in mind. It was even recorded by rockabilly revivalist Robert Gordon for his own 1978 album, Fresh Fish Special. While Gordon’s take made little chart impact, the Pointer Sisters’ version became an international hit that earned the sisters more radio airplay than they had ever received. Although Springsteen’s version wasn’t released until many years later, “Fire” was a regular part of his concert set lists in the late 1970s and through the 1980s.

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Today in rock history: On this date in 1944, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Al Kooper was born in Brooklyn, New York. He is best known for his musical contributions with innovative ‘60s band The Blues Project and for assembling the rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears. In addition to solo work, the man born Alan Peter Kuperschmidt is also the visionary who played the unmistakable organ on Bob Dylan’s masterpiece “Like a Rolling Stone” and the person who discovered Lynyrd Skynyrd before producing the Southern-rock band’s debut LP. Kooper — whose name appears in credits for albums by artists like The Who, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones — is an unsung hero of rock and roll and turns 75 years old today.

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Today in rock history: On this date in 1941, Barrett Strong — one of of the first artists signed to Motown Records — was born in West Point, Mississippi. Together with writing partner Norman Whitfield, Strong penned some of the greatest and most beloved songs of the rock and pop era including Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.” “Cloud Nine,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone,” “Ball of Confusion” and “I Can’t Get Next to You” were all Strong and Whitfield creations that helped The Temptations become one of Motown’s best-selling acts of all time. Ironically, Strong’s first hit on his own for the label, “Money (That’s What I Want),” was one he didn’t have a hand in writing as it was actually written by Motown founder Berry Gordy and songwriter Janie Bradford.

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About The Author

Gabe Echazabal

I was born on a Sunday Morning.I soon received The Gift of loving music.Through music, I Found A Reason for living.It was when I discovered rock and roll that I Was Beginning To See The Light.Because through music, I'm Set Free.It's always helped me keep my Head Held High.When I started dancing to that fine, fine...
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