|The Commodores (Inducted 2003)
The Commodores want you to know that their friend and comrade, Lionel Richie left the band seventeen years in 1983. They want you to know that the Commodores, despite a string of monster hits and massive tours in the late 70’s and early 80’s, won their first Grammy Award for the multi-platinum smash single and LP "Night Shift" in 1986. Most of all, they want you to know that the Commodores are alive and well in the 90’s, with their own label, and five new albums in stores.
From the beginning at Tuskegee Institute in 1968, the Commodores were known as "smart guys". But they were too funky, too. Smart and funky enough to open for the Jackson 5, to be discovered by Berry Gordy in the process, and to sell more than 60 million records for Motown. They were its largest selling act for two decades, the 70’s and 80’s. The Commodores racked up a string of hits like "Machine Gun", "Brick House", "Easy", "Three Times A Lady", "Sail On", "Oh No", "Slippery When Wet", "To Hot To Trot", and many others that literally moved an entire generation. Success, however was not enough to save them from the changes in the music scene, or most especially, the music business. The departure in 1983 of Lionel Richie, co-lead vocalist along with Walter "Clyde" Orange, might have sunk a lesser group. The Commodores continued onward, and entered the studio to begin recording "Commodores 13".
In 1894, before recording "Night Shift", the Commodores decided to re-establish the co-lead vocal formula that had catapulted them to the top of the R&B and Pop Charts in the past. After interviewing over fifty candidates, the Commodores decided on JD Nicholas. JD was the led vocalist for Heat Wave, the Commodores opening act on their previous European tour. The match was perfect. The success of "Night Shift" proved it.
Rounded out by the world-renowned rhythm section the "mean Machine", the Commodores hit the road in support of their new record. The tour had sold out shows with both new and old fans on their feet, singing and dancing to new Commodores songs and classic hits. The Commodores has silenced the critics and climbed to the top of the pop charts once again.
After the release of "Night Shift", the term of the Commodores recording agreement with Motown came to an end and the band entertained offers from every major record label in the business. The best offer came from Polydor, which was in the process of forming it’s own Black Music department. After 2 fruitless LPs in the late 80’s, and a growing confusion and lack of direction at the label, the Commodores asked for and received a release from their obligations to Polydor.
The old saying, "things happen for a reason", was especially true for the Commodores during the period that followed the departure from Polydor. Their change in status to an "unsigned" group focused their attention and talents. Together with their manager David Fish, the Commodores set about taking control of their career in an unprecedented fashion.
The first step was to regain control of their material. Motown’s refusal to grant master use licenses to the Commodores for there planned greatest hit records turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
In 1991, the Commodores, Walter "Clyde" Orange, William "Wak" King and James Dean "JD" Nicholas, began the mammoth undertaking of creating all new digital recordings of the Commodores classic hits. Using the best digital recording technology available, the first step in assuming total control of their future was accomplished.
Recording sessions from late 91 through 92 produced enough material for four new albums. The first is a two disc, separate volume set entitled "Commodores Hits Vol.I" and "Commodores Hits Vol.II". This will be the first truly comprehensive hits package available on the Commodores that will include all the band’s highest charting singles in chronological order from their early days through "Night Shift" and the Polydor period.
The new digital recordings of such classics as "Three Times A Lady", "Still", "Lady (You Bring Me Up)", and many other sound impressively like the original cuts with JD and Clyde alternating on vocals.
An LP’s worth of Christmas material entitled "Commodores Christmas", filled with covers of traditional Yuletide songs and soon-to-be-classic original songs for the season, was also completed during the extensive recording sessions. But perhaps most importantly, the sessions resulted in an album of all new material entitled "Commodores XX – No Tricks", which is the bands twentieth studio album. It includes a new musical and vocal arrangement of the smash hit "Brick House" entitled "Brick House 93".
With four records ‘in the can’, there was only one thing missing – a label. Rather than relinquish control of their careers to the ‘one hit wonder’ major label and distribution system of today where priorities change hourly, and perhaps suffer the same fate that befell the and at Polydor, the Commodores decided to form their own record company. Announced in August of 1992, Commodores Records Entertainment came into being. It was the final step in maintaining full and total control over their music and career that the band had desired for some time.
Signing a series of domestic and international publishing, licensing, and distribution agreements through the new Company, the Commodores released "Commodores Hits Vol.I", "Commodores Hits Vol.II", "Commodores Christmas" and Commodores XX – No Tricks."
The Group recorded and filmed their live performances during the 1996 US Tour. The resulting efforts have produced "Commodores Live" CD and TV special. The band is currently working in new material for their next CD.
With the new discs, new tour, and a new label, the Commodores have maintained their place among the most successful entertainers in the world. Their new careers as entrepreneurs, as well as performers bring the boys from Tuskegee full circle. Bring the talent and experience of three decades of writing, producing, and performing hit music to a whole new generation of fans, the Commodores are proving once again that heir future is as bright as their past.
The members of the Commodores, all of whom attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, came together as a result of two groups disbanding: the Mystics and the Jays. Initially formed to simply play music as a pastime and to meet girls, the lineup consisted of William King (trumpet), Thomas McClary (guitar), Ronald LaPread (bass), Walter "Clyde" Orange (drums), Lionel Richie (saxophone), and Milan Williams (keyboards). The members nearly went stir-crazy trying to pick a name for the group, but to no avail. As a last resort, Orange gave King a dictionary and told him to pick a name, and that name was the Commodores. With the only learned musician in the group being Clyde Orange, the Commodores began spreading their music throughout their regional base, which included Tuskegee, Montgomery, and Birmingham, AL. After experiencing success in securing dates in their own backyard, the band ventured to New York City for a gig at the Smalls Paradise club. They were told, in so many words by the club owner, that their sound was not happening. However, a short time later the self-contained band was called back to the club to fill-in for a last minute cancellation. That night the Tuskegee alumni performed before a standing-room-only crowd. Most of the crowd were friends and family of the band. Unaware of the planned crowd, the owner booked ...
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