Today in Music History (February 15): Ray, Goodman & Brown scale to the top with "Special Lady"

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February 15, 1980 – Ray, Goodman & Brown move to #1 with “Special Lady”

Part of the generation of soul music groups that arose in the late 60s and early 70s, the combination of Harry Ray, Al Goodman and Billy Brown became most notable as perhaps the greatest live performing group of that elite bunch.   While many groups of that era had more successful recording careers, few have equaled the stage presence and consistent crowd pleasing shows of RG&B. And on this day in 1980, Ray, Goodman & Brown’s difficult journey through label and even name changes came to a satisfying end, with the top selling soul music song in the world.

February 15, 1980 – Ray, Goodman & Brown move to #1 with “Special Lady”

Part of the generation of soul music groups that arose in the late 60s and early 70s, the combination of Harry Ray, Al Goodman and Billy Brown became most notable as perhaps the greatest live performing group of that elite bunch.   While many groups of that era had more successful recording careers, few have equaled the stage presence and consistent crowd pleasing shows of RG&B. And on this day in 1980, Ray, Goodman & Brown’s difficult journey through label and even name changes came to a satisfying end, with the top selling soul music song in the world.

The trio was brought together by Stang Records in 1970 as replacement members of the label's soul group the Moments.  As the Moments, they hit the top of the pop and soul charts in 1970 with the falsetto ballad, "Love On A Two Way Street."  That began a string of major soul hits throughout the 70s, including "If I Didn't Care," "Gotta Find a Way," "Sexy  Mama" and another soul chart topper, "Look At Me (I'm In Love)."   

As the decade came to a close, the group experienced significant creative differences with Stang and label founder Sylvia Robinson (later known as a rap pioneer through her Sugar Hill label).  Unfortunately, Stang owned the "Moments" name, and the group's departure from the label meant leaving their well established moniker behind -- a tough pill to swallow after a decade as the Moments.

They signed with Polydor in 1979 and decided to simply label themselves Ray, Goodman & Brown in part because, as Goodman said, "no one can take our names from us."  With producer Vincent Castellano by their side, the trio created an album masterpiece, led by the #1 crossover hit "Special Lady."  In a time of disco domination, an album featuring ballads with rich harmonies and casual repartee among group members clearly appeared out of place.  But it was just what weary soul music fans were looking for and the LP shot to the top of the charts. 

By putting gadgetry aside and simply focusing on beautiful voices and a great melody, Ray, Goodman & Brown created a song for the ages. Check out “Special Lady” again below.

By Chris Rizik

 

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