"LOVE IS STRANGE" on WMBR's Subject to Change Program
Sunday, February 16, 2020
12:00pm - 2:00pm
"Hey Loverboy." For a post-Valentine's Day hangover, we spotlight "Love is Strange," the 1956 tune by Mickey & Sylvia that topped the R&B charts and became a bump-n-grind soundtrack in the film Dirty Dancing thirty years later. Known to their parents as McHouston Baker and Sylvia Vanterpool, the duo began as a music instructor and his pupil. As with many classic rock and pop songs, the origins of the song are disputed. Bo Diddley claimed to have written the song, which explains the Cubano beat and his wife's name as songwriter. But guitarist Jody Williams deserves credit for the riff. (And the song earned a second life as Dave Baby Cortez' Rinky Dink).
Mickey & Sylvia made few records after hitting #11 on the Billboard charts with this song, but Sylvia (now) Robinson became one of the music industry pioneers, and a black female one at that. With Mickey, she co-founded her first label Willow in 1961. She followed that up with All Platinum, Vibration, Stang and, ultimately, Sugar Hill, the label birthed the namesake Gang's "Rapper's Delight." Robinson was not merely a label boss but a gifted songwriter and producer, scoring her own smash, "Pillow Talk" (written for Al Green) in 1973.
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