ON THIS DAY IN BLACK MUSIC HISTORY: SEPTEMBER 26

#1 R&B Song 1981: “Endless Love,” Diana Ross and Lionel Richie

Born: George Chambers (the Chambers Brothers), 1931; Cindy Herron (En Vogue), 1965

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1937 “Empress of the Blues” Bessie Smith died today. Influenced by Ma Rainey, Bessie was simply the best of the classic blues singers. Her first recording in 1923, “Down Hearted Blues,” sold more than 750,000 copies in a few months. She was known to have influenced many stars, including Billie Holliday, Mahalia Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, and Janis Joplin. Though there were more than 7,000 people at her funeral, her grave remained without a marker until the ’60s when Joplin paid for one.

1953 Seven of the R&B charts Top 10 positions were occupied by vocal groups, including the Orioles, the Clovers, the “5” Royales, the Royals, the Spaniels, the Dominoes, and the Coronets.

1957 The Montones’ immortal “Book of Love” (#3 R&B, #5 pop) was recorded.

1960 Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs charted R&B with “Stay,” reaching #3 and #1 pop. The Zodiacs were actually the Gladiolas, who in 1957 had the R&B hit “Little Darlin,’ ” (#11) which the Diamonds made into a monster hit on the pop charts (which is considered a parody of the original song).

“Stay,” by the way, was the shortest #1 record ever at 1:50 in length. It too was covered by another legend in the world of rock ‘n’ roll: Jackson Brown, where he sings it at the end of his song “The Load Out.” Maurice said of “Stay” that it would have been shorter but the group really got carried away in the fade.

1963 Baby Washington, Sam Cooke, Freddie Scott, the Tymes, Little Willie John, and Bobby “Blue” Bland performed in New Orleans.

1981 Patti Austin’s Quincy Jones-produced “Every Home Should Have One” album charted on its way to #36, becoming Patti’s biggest of five Top 200 albums through 1990. Patti was more well-known behind the scenes, having provided backing vocals on albums by such stars such as Michael Jackson (“Off the Wall”), Paul Simon, Billy Joel, and George Benson, among others.

1992 Bobby Brown appeared as the performing guest on the season opener of NBC-TV’s “Saturday Night Live.”

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