Today in Music History (January 31): The Commodores surprised the world with "Nightshift"

January 31, 1985 – The Commodores release the Grammy Award winning “Nightshift”

Formed by a bunch of funk-loving friends at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute, The Commodores became one of the major crossover acts of the 70s and early 80s, with one monster hit after another.

But when lead singer Lionel Richie left the group after 1982’s In the Pocket album, The Commodores were given up for dead by much of the music world. Fortunately, the world was about to be surprised by the talented band.

January 31, 1985 – The Commodores release the Grammy Award winning “Nightshift”

Formed by a bunch of funk-loving friends at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute, The Commodores became one of the major crossover acts of the 70s and early 80s, with one monster hit after another.

But when lead singer Lionel Richie left the group after 1982’s In the Pocket album, The Commodores were given up for dead by much of the music world. Fortunately, the world was about to be surprised by the talented band.

In 1985, the critics were silenced when the group, with new singer J.D. Nicholas in tow, recorded a Franne Golde / Dennis Lambert / Walter Orange composition that became one of their biggest hits ever. "Nightshift," a musical tribute to Jackie Wilson, Marvin Gaye and other deceased soul greats, was a deserving smash, spending 4 weeks at the top of the charts and winning for the group a Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance - their first Grammy.

“Nightshift” became one of the year’s biggest hits, and it began a second life for the Commodores that continues to this day. Take a listen to the hit song below and also check out the Commodores’ reflections (made exclusively for SoulTracks) on how the song came together.

By Chris Rizik

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