First of all, I didn’t remember that there was even a video for today’s song. In a decade filled with unlikely hits, I think today’s song qualifies in the top 5 of unlikely pop hits for the 1980s. At the time this song became a hit, instrumental songs were few and far between on pop radio. There was the “Miami Vice Theme,” and….well that’s all I can think of. Maybe there were more, but they have escaped my memory. Today’s song did not, and it’s the pick for today.
Get ready. It’s Kenny G and “Songbird” is the 80’s Mania Monday tune for this week.
Kenneth Gorelick actually started his musical career working for Barry White in Love Unlimited Orchestra at the age of 17. He was still in high school at the time. By the end of the 1970s, he had moved on to become a member of the Jeff Lorber Fusion, where he stayed for two years. Signed by Clive Davis to Arista Records after hearing his version of ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” his first solo album, Kenny G, was released in 1982, using musicians from the Jeff Lorber Fusion. His next two albums, G Force and Gravity, were primarily produced by R&B singer/producer Kashif. Those albums featured a few singles that only charted on the R&B lists.
With his next album Duotones, things were about to change, although the first single release didn’t suggest that things would be any different. At this time, Kenny G self-produced the album along with Narada Michael Walden and Preston Glass. The first single, a cover of the Jr. Walker & The All Stars hit from 1969, “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)”, made to the top 20 on the R&B chart, which was his biggest hit to date. No one could have seen that the second single released, “Songbird,” was going to do much more than that. It caught fire on the pop charts, going to #5, and thus, an unlikely pop star was born.
Today, Kenny G has sold over 75 million albums worldwide. His album Breathless is the biggest instrumental album of all time, selling over 15 million copies. Miracles, the first in a series of holiday albums he has released has sold over 13 million copies. By virtue of his several milllion selling albums, he is considered the biggest selling instrumental artist of all time. The road to that position began with today’s hit.
Enjoy “Songbird,” and as always, thanks for reading and listening.