Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In Memoriam: Loleatta Holloway

Loleatta Holloway: Cry To Me


Among the soul deaths this year were those of Marv Tarplin (you know his guitar from “Tracks Of My Tears” and virtually every Smokey Robinson hit), Sylvia Robinson (founder of Sugar Hill Records and a soul singer in her own right), Coasters founder Carl Gardner, Dobie Gray, Vesta Williams, Gene McDaniels, Marvin Sease, Howard Tate, Gladys Horton of The Marvelettes, percussionist Ralph MacDonald, guitarists Cornell Dupree and Melvin Sparks, J Blackfoot of The Soul Children, St Clair Lee of The Hues Corporation, Donald Banks of The Tymes and – above all – Nick Ashford.

But the death I want to highlight is that of Loleatta Holloway, whose voice was behind one of the biggest international hits of 1989, without her getting credit for it. The hit was “Ride On Time” by Black Box, sung on the video by a beautiful, thin girl. Loleatta was not thin, and the lithe girl was not the singer.

“Ride On Time” sampled profusely from Loleatta Holloway’s 1980 dance number “Love Sensation”, right down to her vocals, on which she sang “right on time”; the Italians producers of the Black Box hit thought it was “ride on time”, hence the title. The producers of “Ride On Time” had cleared the samples with Salsoul, who had released “Love Sensation”, but Hathaway rightly insisted that she should receive royalties from the 1989 hit which, after all, would have been pretty uninteresting without her vocals. A settlement was reached eventually.

So Loleatta Holloway is mostly remembered as a disco queen and the subject of the “Ride On Time” story. But before “Love Sensation”, she was a great soul singer. Especially her 1975 album Cry To Me (of which we feature the gorgeous title track) was outstanding. But before Holloway could establish itself herself, her label went bust. She went on to the Salsoul label where she had dance hits with songs like “Love Sensation”, “Crash Goes Love” and “Hit And Run” (and a big soul hit in 1978 with Bunny Sigler’s “Only You”), and sang on dance classics like Dan Hartman’s “Re-Light My Fire”.

In 1991 she topped the US pop charts with Markie Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations” – which featured, fully credited, vocals from “Love Sensation”.

Loleatta Holloway died on 21 March of heart failure at the age of 64.

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