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This Week in Rock History: Jim Morrison Dies, the Beatles Hit the Big Screen

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July 7, 1984: Prince hits Number One on the singles chart for the first time
The lead single from 1984's Purple Rain has become Prince's calling card in his vast catalogue of dance offerings, and rightly so. Upon its release, "When Doves Cry" became his first Number One hit in the U.S., as well as the top-selling single of the year with over two million copies sold.

"When Doves Cry" topped the American Billboard charts for a full five weeks and peaked at Number Four in the United Kingdom. It was the last song written for the Purple Rain soundtrack and its music video provoked controversy itself: the images of his band the Revolution's sultry dancing and the then-26-year-old singer in a bathtub was considered too explicit for television, though it ultimately ran on MTV and was nominated at their 1985 Music Video Awards.

With Purple Rain and "When Doves Cry," Prince did the unthinkable in 1984: he became the first artist ever to hold the Number One album, single and film in the United States.

July 4, 2003: Barry White dies from kidney failure
Barry White, soul singer of depthless bass voice and romantic visions, passed away from kidney failure at age 58. It was a blow to the music community, especially soul and funk fans who followed White throughout his genre-defying career.

The Grammy-winning singer found worldwide fame as a solo singer and leader of the 40-piece Love Unlimited Orchestra in the 1970s, and was very influential in the underground dance movement that became disco. He had previously made a living as a songwriter for pop acts, including the Banana Splits, and as an A&R rep.

White's love ballads – like "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe" – were peerless and his enthusiasm for combining R&B music with classical helped inspire numerous disco artists. He also enjoyed acting occasionally – yep, that really is his voice on The Simpsons.

White was posthumously inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame in 2004.

LAST WEEK: Eminem's Mom Sues, Brian Eno Quits

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Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

More Song Stories entries »
 
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