On this day in music history: July 26, 1986 - “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1 week. Written by Peter Gabriel, it is the biggest hit for the British singer and songwriter. Influenced by 60’s soul music, especially the Memphis soul sound pioneered by Stax Records, Gabriel hires the Memphis Horns (Andrew Love and Wayne Jackson) to play on the track, as well as features former Ikette P.P. Arnold, Dee Lewis and Coral Gordon on background vocals. Other musicians including Tony Levin (bass), Manu Katche (drums), and David Rhodes (guitar) also play on the track. The songs highly innovative and award winning music video directed by Stephen R. Johnson (“Pee Wee’s Playhouse”) also features contributions from the Aardman Animation Studio (“Wallace & Gromit”) and the Brothers Quay. The video is filmed using a stop motion camera technique in which Gabriel’s movements and lip synch are filmed one frame at at a time while lying on his back, under a sheet of plate glass for up to sixteen hours a day for eight days. The process is painstaking and slow, and the clip takes over a month to complete. Released as the first single from Gabriel’s fifth studio album “So” in April of 1986, “Sledgehammer” becomes an immediate hit. Entering the Hot 100 at #89 on May 10, 1986, it climbs to the top of the chart eleven weeks later. The video for “Sledgehammer” wins an unprecedented nine MTV VMA awards (still the record holder for the most wins in a single year), and by 2011 becomes the most played clip in the history of the channel. "Sledgehammer" is later sampled by 3rd Bass as the basis of their hit single “Pop Goes The Weasel” in 1991.
thanks as ever to Jeff Harris at his wondrous Behind The Grooves