Biography of The Commodores
The Commodores is an American funk/soul band, which was at its peak in the late 1970s through the mid 1980s. The members of the group met as mostly freshmen at Tuskegee Institute (now Tuskegee University) in 1968, and signed with Motown in November 1972, having first caught the public eye opening for the Jackson 5 while on tour.
The group’s most successful period was in the late 1970s and early 1980s when Lionel Richie was the co-lead singer. The band’s biggest hit singles are ballads such as «Easy», «Three Times a Lady», and «Nightshift»; and funky dance hits which include «Brick House», «Fancy Dancer», «Lady (You Bring Me Up)», and «Too Hot ta Trot».
The group also gradually abandoned its funk roots and moved into the more commercial pop arena. In 1984 former Heatwave singer James Dean «J.D.» Nicholas assumed co-lead vocal duties with drummer Walter Orange. The band remained hitless until 1985 when their final Motown album, Nightshift, produced by Dennis Lambert—all prior albums were produced by James Anthony Carmichael—delivered the title track «Nightshift» (No. 3 in the U.S.), a loving tribute to Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson, both of whom had died the previous year. «Nightshift» won the Commodores their first Grammy for Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocals in 1985. In 1986, the Commodores won their first Grammy for the song «Nightshift».
In 2010 a new version was recorded, dedicated to Michael Jackson. The Commodores were on a European tour performing at Wembley Arena, London, on June 25, 2009, when they walked off the stage after they were told that Michael Jackson had died. Initially the band thought it was a hoax. However, back in their dressing rooms they received confirmation and broke down in tears. The next night at Birmingham’s NIA Arena, J.D. Nicholas added Jackson’s name into the lyrics of the song, and thenceforth the Commodores have mentioned Jackson and other deceased R&B singers. Thus came the inspiration upon the one-year anniversary of Jackson’s death, to re-record, with new lyrics, the hit song «Nightshift» as a tribute.
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