Today in Music History (February 3): Bobby Caldwell releases his signature song, "What You Won't Do For Love"

February 3, 1979 – Bobby Caldwell releases his signature song, “What You Won’t Do For Love”

Bobby Caldwell was likely destined to be an entertainer. The son of Bob and R.H. Caldwell, longtime Florida-based singers and dancers who were also the hosts of an early TV variety show, Suppertime, he was raised in a world surrounded by great entertainers and classic music. Exposed by his parents to opera, jazz, swing, blues, folk and other popular forms of music, he developed an early appreciation for the different architectures of various types of music -- an appreciation that would later help him to move from soul to adult contemporary to smooth jazz to big band sounds during his career.

February 3, 1979 – Bobby Caldwell releases his signature song, “What You Won’t Do For Love”

Bobby Caldwell was likely destined to be an entertainer. The son of Bob and R.H. Caldwell, longtime Florida-based singers and dancers who were also the hosts of an early TV variety show, Suppertime, he was raised in a world surrounded by great entertainers and classic music. Exposed by his parents to opera, jazz, swing, blues, folk and other popular forms of music, he developed an early appreciation for the different architectures of various types of music -- an appreciation that would later help him to move from soul to adult contemporary to smooth jazz to big band sounds during his career.

Leaving home at age 17 with his band, Bobby went first to Las Vegas and then to Los Angeles before returning to Miami. He became a noted singer and musician in the Miami clubs and was signed by noted local music man Henry Stone and his TK Records to record an album.

The LP was completed, but Stone sent Caldwell back into the studio because he "didn't see a hit" on the disc.  Caldwell went back and quickly penned what would become his signature song. "What You Won't Do For Love" was a piece of sophisticated urban adult contemporary music that climbed to the top 10 on both the pop and soul charts. More surprisingly, it became an R&B standard and one of the most recorded songs of the next three decades (with hit remakes by Peabo Bryson and Natalie Cole, Go West and Phyllis Hyman, among others).  

But as good as all of those covers were, nothing has quite matched the original, which sounds as compelling as ever, more than four decades after it was released.

By Chris Rizik

 
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