Spin Around

Mon. January 16, 2012 12:00 AM
by dj Eric Ornelas

2011 comes to a close, I would like to take a moment to honor three extremely talented artists who passed away this year. Their music collectively left an indelible mark on pop culture; helping Dance music in particular to become the worldwide phenomenon it is today Of course, we lost more than three recording artists this year.

The deaths of English Pop singer Amy Winehouse and Hip Hop stars Heavy D and Nate Dogg were widely publicized. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the below mentioned entertainers. The loss of these musical pioneers must not go unrecognized. So read on and let us remember, honor and celebrate the lives of the great Loleatta Holloway, Nikolas Ashford, and Andrea True.

Loleatta Holloway
Soulful singer Loleatta Holloway is perhaps best known for her early Disco hits like "Runaway," "Hit and Run," and "Love Sensation." But Holloway continued making music well into the 2000's. Born in Chicago in 1946, Holloway got her start singing Gospel music with her mother. In the early 1970's, Holloway signed her first recording contract with Aware Records, releasing her debut album Loleatta in 1973, followed by Cry To Me in 1975. Holloway signed with Salsoul Records in 1976, releasing the R&B hit "Only You," along with her first Disco hit, "Dreaming."

In 1980, Holloway sang vocals on Dan Hartman's number-one Dance hit "Relight My Fire." That same year, she scored a second number-one with "Love Sensation." Holloway returned to the dance floor in the early 1990's when her voice was sampled in "Ride On Time" by Black Box, and also on the number-one U.S. Dance hit "Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. For this song, she even performed with the group to promote the single and appeared in the song's music video.

Ashford and his wife Valerie Simpson joined the Motown team of songwriters in 1966. Their first success with the label came from a song called "Let's Go Get Stoned," sung by Ray Charles. But "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and "Reach Out and Touch (Somebody's Hand)," sung by former Supreme Diana Ross, and "You're All I Need to Get By," sung by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell, became Ashford and Simpson's biggest hits for Motown. In 1978, the duo wrote "I'm Every Woman" for Chaka Khan, which was then recorded by Whitney Houston in 1993.

As performers, Ashford & Simpson released several hit singles in the late 1970's, including the Disco hits "Nobody Knows" and "Found a Cure." But their biggest hit by far was 1984's "Solid." Featured on the album of the same name, "Solid" topped the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Although Nickolas Ashford is no longer with us, the love adoration from his fans around the world remains "solid as a rock."

Nick Ashford
As one-half of the legendary songwriting and performing duo Ashford & Simpson, Nick Ashford helped create some of Motown's biggest hits for artists like Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight & The Pips, and many others.

Andrea True
Some artists from the 1970's managed to secure a spot in Disco history with a single hit. This certainly was the case for singer Andrea True, who is famous for her 1976 Disco and Pop hit "More, More, More." It was the third single from her album of the same name and became a top-ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and Dance charts.

The story on how True became a recording artist is actually quite interesting. True was born in Nashville in 1943. As a teenager, she moved to New York City to pursue an acting career. Although True scored a few minor roles in films that included "The Way We Were," she never found much success doing mainstream films. So True began making films in the porn industry. While working as a porn actress, True was hired to film a commercial in Jamaica.

But political upheaval in the country prevented True from leaving the island with the money she had made there. Not wanting to lose the money, she rented a recording studio in Jamaica, hired some musicians, and asked her friend, record producer Greg Diamond, to help her record a song. That was when she recorded "More, More, More."

True released two more albums with some minor success, but eventually had to abandon her career as a recording artist due to health problems. "More, More, More" remained a popular song and went on to be covered by Bananarama, Samantha Fox, and Dannii Minogue. It was also sampled by Len in 1999's "Steal My Sunshine." Today "More, More, More" is remembered as one of the most popular songs of the Disco era.

Some people might think of Disco as a short-lived fad that faded with the 1970's, but the music's impact on society is still evident today. Disco created a shift in pop culture and built a foundation on which today's House, Trance, Electronic, Hip Hop, and Pop music genres now stand. Although they are now gone, Loleatta Holloway, Nick Ashford, and Andrea True were true pioneers in the Disco movement, and their work, influence, and music will live forever.