Commodores

Known for such hits as Just to be close to you, Easy, and Brickhouse, to name a few, The Commodores were one of the top bands during their long tenure at Motown. The group is credited with seven no. 1 songs and a host of other Top 10 hits on the Billboard charts. They also have a vast music catalogue that has generated more than 50 albums, and the recordings continue to be in demand.

The members of The Commodores, came together as a result of two groups disbanding: The Mystics and The Jays. Initially, the line up consisted of William King (trumpet), Thomas McClary (guitar), Ronald LaPread (bass), Walter "Clyde" Orange (drums), Lionel Richie (saxophone), and Milan Williams (keyboards). After experiencing success in securing dates in their own backyard, the band ventured to New York City for a gig at the Smalls Paradise club, the owner booked the band for two more weeks.

The Commodores toured with the Jackson 5 for two-and-one-half years, and their presence on that tour ultimately solidified a deal with Motown. Their first release on Motown was the up-tempo instrumental dance cut Machine gun, followed by the Top 20 single I feel Sanctified which led to their third single and first number one record Slippery when wet. Inside of 17 weeks, the Alabama-based septet was rocking the radio waves with their Southern funk spiced with an animated vocal delivery, courtesy of Lionel Richie and Clyde Orange.

In September of 1976, they released Just to be close to you, their second no. 1 single, whereas Easy paved the way for the style of ballads the group would later be known for. The dance cut Too hot ta trot and the placid number Three times a lady. And then there was Still, which was the last no. 1 for the group with Richie as a member.

In the absence of Richie, the group courted the talents of tenor J.D. Nicholas (formerly of Heatwave) and would go on to release its biggest hit. That occurred in 1985, when Nightshift was released. Penned by Clyde Orange, the song pays to tribute to the late soul singers Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson and navigated its way to the top spot on the charts where it stayed through four consecutive weeks; it also won the group its only Grammy.

The Commodores left Motown in 1985 and signed with Polydor in the same year and had another swing at the Top 10 with Goin’ to the bank (Billboard R&B, no.2 - 20 weeks).

 Today the band is reduced to a core of three, which includes Orange, King, and Nicholas. The threesome are as active as ever performing around the world; they are managing their own label, Commodore Records, and more than anything else they're still having fun!

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