Today in Music History (January 1): Rose Royce is #1 with "Car Wash"

January 1, 1977 – Rose Royce has its first and biggest hit

As a principal vehicle for former Motown hitmaker Norman Whitfield's engaging compositions, Rose Royce ascended to the top of the Soul Music world with a string of great hits and a tight, full sound that rivaled many of the best self-contained soul and funk groups of that era.

Formed by trumpeter/vocalist Kenny Copeland, drummer Henry Garner, trumpeter Freddie Dunn and saxman Michael Moore in the early 70s, the group first served as a backup band for Edwin Starr, who introduced them to his "War" producer, Whitfield.  This led to regular work with many of Whitfield's other Motown acts, including the Undisputed Truth.

January 1, 1977 – Rose Royce has its first and biggest hit

As a principal vehicle for former Motown hitmaker Norman Whitfield's engaging compositions, Rose Royce ascended to the top of the Soul Music world with a string of great hits and a tight, full sound that rivaled many of the best self-contained soul and funk groups of that era.

Formed by trumpeter/vocalist Kenny Copeland, drummer Henry Garner, trumpeter Freddie Dunn and saxman Michael Moore in the early 70s, the group first served as a backup band for Edwin Starr, who introduced them to his "War" producer, Whitfield.  This led to regular work with many of Whitfield's other Motown acts, including the Undisputed Truth.

In 1977 Whitfield helped the band, which had swelled to nine members (including featured vocalist Gwen Dickey), to get a gig as the lead act on the Whitfield-produced MCA soundtrack to the Richard Pryor movie Car Wash. And the title song became history. With its hand-clapping, funky intro, Dickey's exciting lead vocals and the band's great performance, the title track became one of the biggest dance songs ever, leaping to #1 on the pop and soul charts and taking Rose Royce with it.  And “Car Wash” sat at the top of the charts on this day in 1977, becoming Rose Royce’s first and biggest hit.

Fortunately, the group turned out to be neither a one-hit-wonder nor just a dance band.  Rose Royce's follow up from the soundtrack, "I Wanna Get Next To You," was a gorgeous ballad as strong as anything Whitfield had provided to the Temptations and the performance was again outstanding. And Rose Royce continued with a string of R&B hits over the next half decade.

But for now, we’re just going to sit and enjoy this all-time classic.

By Chris Rizik

 
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