portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


On this day in music history: July 30, 1988 - “Roll With It” by Steve Winwood hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 4 weeks, topping the Mainstream Rock chart for 4 weeks on June 25, 1988, also topping the Adult Contemporary chart for 2 weeks on August 6, 1988, and peaking at #30 on the R&B singles chart on August 13, 1988. Written by Steve Winwood, Will Jennings, Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Eddie Holland, it is the biggest hit for the singer, songwriter and musician from Handsworth, Birmingham, UK. Following the huge success of his multi-platinum selling and multiple Grammy winning album “Back In The High Life”, Steve Winwood leaves Island Records, his label home of over twenty years when Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Records offers the musician a lucrative contract with the label. When Winwood begins work on his first album for his new label, he collaborates once again with lyricist Will Jennings, having co-written several hits together including “While You See A Chance”, “Valerie”, “The Finer Things” and “Higher Love”. The pair write seven of the new album’s eight songs including the title track “Roll With It”. Heavily influenced by R&B music throughout his life, and having recently relocated to Tennessee after meeting and marrying his second wife Eugenia, Winwood begins writing a song with a strong Memphis Soul/Motown feel that becomes “Roll With It”. When the track is recorded, Wayne Jackson and Andrew Love (aka The Memphis Horns) are recruited to play on the song. Released in late May of 1988, as the first single and title track to his fifth solo album, it is an immediate smash. Entering the Hot 100 at #53 on June 11, 1988, it races to the top of the chart seven weeks later. “Roll With It” receives a pair of Grammy nominations in 1989 including Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male and Record Of The Year. Not long after the single tops the charts, Jobete Music and BMI, recognizes the similarities between “Roll With It” and Jr. Walker And The All Stars’ 1966 hit “(I’m A) Road Runner”, and award a co-writing credit to the songwriting and production team Holland-Dozier-Holland as well as back and future royalty earnings on the song.

thanks as ever to Jeff Harris at his wondrous Behind The Grooves

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