Ask Billboard: Solo Duets, Readers Respond

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Readers offer more examples of duets that officially aren’t. I.e., songs that sound like duets but, for various label/legal reasons, were credited only to one act.

As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

SOLO DUETS, READERS RESPOND

Hi Gary,

That was an interesting letter from David Fritz in the last "Ask Billboard" regarding duets that officially aren’t. I.e., songs that sound like duets but, for various label/legal reasons, were credited only to one act. The Jacksons’ "State of Shock," as noted, with an uncredited Mick Jagger, is a perfect example.

I can think of a few more:

Australian singer Samantha Sang reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1978 with "Emotion." Barry Gibb’s vocals are so prominent on this song that it sounds like a Bee Gees recording.

Bruce Willis reached No. 5 in 1987 with a cover of the Staple Singers’ "Respect Yourself." The song contains a significant vocal contribution from the late June Pointer.



And, in a 1992 episode of "MTV Unplugged," Mariah Carey performed a cover of the Jackson 5’s "I’ll Be There" with Trey Lorenz. When released as a single, which topped the Hot 100 that year, the only artist listed on the product was Carey. Interestingly, both artists were nominated for a 1993 Grammy Award for best R&B performance by a duo or group with vocals. (They lost to Boyz II Men’s "End of the Road.")

These are just a few examples. I’m sure that there are many more.

Regards,

Blair Buchta
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada


Hi Blair,

Thanks for three great examples to get us started. David's e-mail spurred several e-mails on the topic, so we'll run down a bunch of uncredited duets this week and continue the discussion next Friday.

The "Ask Billboard" mailbox is always open for more offerings – on this topic or any others – at askbb@billboard.com and via Twitter: @gthot20.

Read on for more insightful reader contributions.


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As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

SOLO DUETS, READERS RESPOND

Hi Gary,
 
About the topic of songs that are essentially duets, even though only one act receives official billing, here are some more.

First, vocal collaborations:

"Whatever Gets You Through the Night," John Lennon, No. 1, 1974 (Elton John: vocals and piano)

"Sidewalk Talk," John "Jellybean" Benitez, No. 18, 1986 (Madonna: Co-writer and vocals)

"California Girls," David Lee Roth, No. 3, 1985 (the Beach Boys' Carl Wilson and Christopher Cross: background vocals)

"I'll Be Over You," Toto, No. 11, 1986 (Michael McDonald: background vocals)



"Electric Blue," Icehouse, No. 7, 1988 (Hall & Oates' John Oates: co-writer and background vocals)

"Heaven Help Me," Deon Estus,  No. 5, 1989 (George Michael: co-writer and background vocals)


And, instrumental assistance:

"While My Guitar Gently Weeps," the Beatles, 1968 (Eric Clapton: guitar)

"I Wish It Would Rain Down," Phil Collins, No. 3, 1990 (Eric Clapton: guitar)

"No More Lonely Nights," Paul McCartney, No. 6, 1984 (Pink Floyd's David Gilmour: guitar)

"I Won't Back Down," Tom Petty, No. 12, 1989 (George Harrison: background vocals and guitar)

"Leave a Light On," Belinda Carlisle, No. 11, 1989 (George Harrison: slide guitar)

 
And the list goes on, on and on ...
 
Thanks and take care,
 
Mackenzie (Mac) Scott,
Fajardo, Puerto Rico


Thanks Mac!

With your Beatles- and late '80s-centric list, I'll add Elvis Costello's "Veronica" (No. 18) and Paul McCartney's "My Brave Face" (No. 25), both from 1989, as the pair co-wrote a hit for each other that year.



Around the same time, Costello also collaborated with 'til Tuesday on "The Other End (Of the Telescope)," an album cut on the band's 1988 release (and my favorite album of all-time) "Everything's Different Now." Costello's prominent line in the song (which he co-wrote with the band's Aimee Mann – "I think you're shrinking" – is so a part of it that when Mann performed it at a show I saw in the early 2000s, she had her husband, Michael Penn, fill in on it. He did his best (good-natured) Costello impression, to the appreciation and laughter of the crowd.

(To bring the round-about reference into 2013, Penn's name shows clearly each week at the end of each episode of HBO's "Girls." He's scores the show and contributed a song to its new soundtrack, "On Your Way.")


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As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

SOLO DUETS, READERS RESPOND

Hey Gary,

Great post on the non-credited feature acts on those big hits.

I thought of two No. 11-peaking songs: "This Is It" by Kenny Loggins (no featured credit going to Michael McDonald) and "A Love Bizarre" by Sheila E. (essentially a duet with Prince).

And, we can't forget Martha Wash. C+C Music Factory's "Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)" and Black Box’s "Strike It Up," both from 1991, clearly should've credited her, given her vocals that make the songs' choruses.

Thanks,

Adam Soybel
Worcester, Massachusetts
popgoesthecharts.wordpress.com


Hi Gary,

Two examples come to mind:



Two members of Chicago (and forgive my 49-year-old brain for not remembering which two …) provided back-up vocals for Billy Joel on "My Life," his No. 3 hit in 1979. [Editor's note: You're forgiven! And, so they're not forgotten, it was Peter Cetera and Donnie Dacus.]

Likewise, Randy Newman’s "Short People" features an Eagle – Glenn Frey – on the song's bridge.

Andy Ray
Carmel, Indiana


Hi Gary,

Meat Loaf’s 1993 Hot 100 number 1 "I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)" features an uncredited female during the duet coda. The liner notes revealed the singer to be “Mrs. Loud,” who was later revealed to be Lorraine Crosby.

Bonnie Tyler’s 1983 No. 1 "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was a duet with Rory Dodd ... who also performed background vocals on Meat Loaf's "Anything."

Another Meat Loaf hit, 1995’s No. 13-peaking "I'd Lie for You (And That's the Truth)," was a duet with an uncredited Patti Russo.

Hugh Peacock
Perth, Australia


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As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

SOLO DUETS, READERS RESPOND

Hi Gary,

Michael McDonald comes through loud and clear on Christopher Cross's "Ride Like the Wind," the latter's No. 2 smash in 1980.



And, the ultimate recordings with unbilled artists are "We Are the World" by USA for Africa" – 43 acts on that 1985 No. 1! – and "Do They Know Its Christmas?" (No. 13, 1985) by Band-Aid.

This is a fun topic,
Don Helms
Norman, Oklahoma


Hi Gary,
 
I think these would qualify:
 
"Fly Away," John Denver (... and Olivia Newton-John), No. 13, 1976

"Save It for a Rainy Day," Stephen Bishop (... and Chaka Khan), No. 22, 1977

"Whenever I Call You Friend," Kenny Loggins (... and Stevie Nicks), No. 5, 1978

"Magnet and Steel," Walter Egan (... and Stevie Nicks), No. 8, 1978

"Sentimental Lady," Bob Welch (... and Christine McVie), No. 8, 1978

"Gold," John Stewart (... and Stevie Nicks), No. 5, 1979

"Heart to Heart," Kenny Loggins (... and Michael McDonald), No. 15, 1983

"Higher Love," Steve Winwood (... and Chaka Khan), No. 1, 1986


I'm sure there are a lot more. I'll check your column next week to see what other readers came up with.
 
All the best and keep up the good work!
 
Fernando Jerez
Havana, Cuba


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As always, submit your questions about Billboard charts, sales and airplay, as well as general music musings, to askbb@billboard.com. Please include your first and last name, as well as your city, state and country, if outside the U.S. Or, Tweet questions to Gary Trust: @gthot20

A VERY GARY NO. 1

Gary Trust ‏@gthot20
Garys rejoice! Gary Allan tops the @billboard 200 for the first time, making him the first Gary ever to top the tally.

Ian Solley ‏@iansolley
@gthot20 @billboard of course us Brits have had Gary Glitter (persona non grata) and Gary Numan … and what about Gary Puckett and the Union Gap – did they get a No. 1?


Hi Ian,

To recap, I Tweeted the above goofy trivia earlier today in honor of Gary Allan notching his first Billboard 200 No. 1.

As a card-carrying Gary (literally: driver's license, bank card, etc. …), how could I let the rare occurrence of the name suddenly being so prominent pass?

From someone personally experienced on the topic, being named Gary often invites such clever nicknames as the surely-not-outdated "Gary Gnu," Gary being pronounced "Geary" or, even better, "Gerry."

Plus, how uncommon is the name Gary now? Wiktionary defines it as "popular from the 1940s to the '70s," due largely to the success of legendary actor Gary Cooper. And, Wikipedia cites Gary as given to "around 0.1% of all newborn males in the 1990s." (The most popular baby boy names in 2012? In order: Aiden, Jackson, Ethan, Liam and Mason.)

In other words, it's not often that a Gary gets to No. 1 on any kind of mainstream popularity list.

So, in honor of Gary Allan, let's prove that the name still carries some clout. Expanding on those Twitter mentions, here are some more Garys who've made notable marks on Billboard charts.


Gary Lewis
While Allan becomes the first Gary to crown the Billboard 200, this Gary remains the only such-named soloist to have topped the Hot 100. With his group the Playboys, "This Diamond Ring" spent two weeks at No. 1 in February 1965. The band arrived with seven consecutive top 10s, beginning with "Ring," through 1966.

Gary Wright
The prog-rocker sent his first two Hot 100 entries to No. 2 in 1976: "Dream Weaver" and "Love Is Alive."



Gary Puckett
To answer your question, Ian: Puckett, like Wright above, came oh-so-close to No. 1. The Union Gap, fronted by Puckett, notched two No. 2 Hot 100 hits: "Young Girl" and "Lady Willpower" in 1968. It tallied five top 10s in all in 1968-69.

Gary U.S. Bonds
The R&B-leaning rocker (born Gary Anderson) collected five Hot 100 top 10s in 1960-62 (with the charts mirroring that the name sure was more popular back then). "Quarter to Three" rose the highest (No. 1, two weeks), followed by "School Is Out" (No. 5). Ironically, the latter song peaked the week of Sept. 9, 1961, when school was no longer out. (His follow-up that fall, the apt No. 28 hit "School Is In").

Gary Numan
And, as you cite, Ian, proof that a Gary was popular after the '70s! The British singer (nee Gary Webb) rode his new wave classic "Cars" to No. 9 on the Hot 100 in June 1980.

Gary Portnoy
Despite a modest No. 83 Hot 100 peak 30 years ago, this Gary gave us a hit that many still remember fondly: his "Where Everybody Knows Your Name" doubled as the theme to NBC's classic sitcom "Cheers."

Gary Barlow
Ready for a Gary popular in the '90s? With the still-active British boy band Take That, he reached No. 7 on the Hot 100 in 1995 with "Back for Good." As a soloist two years later, his "So Help Me Girl" reached No. 3 on Adult Contemporary. Barlow has enjoyed further acclaim in his judge's role on "The X Factor" in his native U.K.

Gary Chapman
Also in the '90s, Chapman solidified his standing as a cornerstone of Christian music, upping his sum to five top 10 sets on the Christian Albums chart.

Gary Jules
And, a post-Y2K Gary success story: Michael Andrews' moody update of Tears for Fears' "Mad World," featuring Jules, climbed to No. 16 on Digital Songs in 2006.



Gary Clark Jr.
Even more recently (Nov. 10, 2012), the soulful roots rocker roared onto the Billboard 200 at No. 6 with "Black and Blu." His single "Ain't Messin' Around" holds at its No. 17 peak to-date on Triple A this week.


Plus, a few Garys who've nonetheless impressively dominated Billboard charts as part of groups: Extreme and Van Halen's Gary Cherone, Rascal Flatts frontman Gary LeVox, who's sung the group's 12 Country Songs No. 1s (and on four Billboard 200 No. 1 albums), and Gary's Gang, Gary Turnier's funk group that topped Dance Club Songs in 1979 with "Keep on Dancin'."

And, to wrap up (for all you bored non-Garys ...), an honorable mention of one more Gary (while agreeing with you about the singer of "Rock and Roll, Pt. 2," given his personal track record. His real name is Paul, anyway.)

The city that gave us perhaps the rock era's most accomplished family, the Jacksons, including the King of Pop, Michael?

Gary, Indiana.