Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In Music, December 20th

On this day in 1980: Twelve days after John Lennon was shot and killed in New York City, ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’, which was taken from his Double Fantasy album, went to #1 on the U.K. singles chart, making it the only solo #1 for the former Beatle in his native U.K.

On this day in 1986: The Bangles started a four week run at #1 on the U.S. singles chart with ‘Walk Like An Egyptian’. It was released as the third single from the album ‘Different Light.’ It was the band’s first #1 single, being certified gold by the RIAA and became Billboard’s #1 song of 1987. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1986. The song reached a peak of #3 on the U.K. singles chart in November 1986 and reached #1 in the U.S. on December 20, staying at the top of the Hot 100 for four weeks, carrying it over into January 1987. The success of the song and ‘Manic Monday’ propelled the album Different Light to #2 on the Billboard 200 album chart, making it the group’s most successful album

Liam Sternberg, who wrote the song, had finished a demo version by January 1984 with singer Marti Jones. He offered it to Toni Basil, who turned it down. Lene Lovich recorded the first version of the song, but it went unreleased when she decided to take a break from music to raise her family. David Kahne from Peer Southern Publishing was the producer of the Bangles’ album ‘Different Light’; he received a copy of the demo and liked it, especially Jones’s “offhand quality”.

Kahne took the song to the Bangles, who agreed to record it. He had each member of the group sing the lyrics to determine who would sing each verse; Vicki Peterson, Michael Steele (Susan Nancy Thomas), and Susanna Hoffs sang lead vocals in the final version on the first, second, and third verses, respectively. Kahne disliked particularly Debbi Peterson’s leads, so she was relegated to backing vocals. This angered her and caused tension within the group. The situation was exacerbated by the use of a drum machine in place of her drumming, further diminishing her role in the song. She can be seen playing the tambourine during their 1986 performance on The Old Grey Whistle Test. The whistling in the song was performed by machine, not by anyone in the band.

The music video for “Walk Like an Egyptian” was nominated for Best Group Video at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards. It features both the Bangles performing the song at a concert and scenes of people dancing in poses similar to those depicted in the Ancient Egyptian reliefs that inspired songwriter Liam Sternberg. Most of these people were filmed on the streets of New York City, although special effects were used to modify photos of Princess Diana, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, and the Statue of Liberty. In a popular scene from the video, Hoffs was filmed in a close-up where her eyes moved from side to side, looking left and right. When asked about the scene in an interview, Hoffs explained that she was looking at individual audience members during the video shoot, which took place with a live audience. Looking directly at individual audience members was a technique she used to overcome stage fright, and she was unaware that the camera had a close-up on her while she was employing this technique, switching between one audience member on her left and one on her right.

Here’s a look at the complete Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1986:

1 2 WALK LIKE AN EGYPTIAN The Bangles (Columbia)-13 (1 Week at #1) (1)
2 1 THE WAY IT IS –•– Bruce Hornsby & The Range (RCA)-14 (1)
3 5 EVERYBODY HAVE FUN TONIGHT –•– Wang Chung (Geffen)-12 (3)
4 8 NOTORIOUS –•– Duran Duran (Capitol)-8 (4)
5 9 SHAKE YOU DOWN –•– Gregory Abbott (Columbia)-10 (5)
6 7 TO BE A LOVER –•– Billy Idol (Chrysalis)-12 (6)
7 3 HIP TO BE SQUARE –•– Huey Lewis & The News (Chrysalis)-10 (3)
8 14 C’EST LA VIE –•– Robbie Nevil (Manhattan)-11 (8)
9 10 STAND BY ME –•– Ben E. King (Atlantic)-26 (4)
10 4 THE NEXT TIME I FALL –•– Peter Cetera & Amy Grant (Full Moon / Warner Brothers)-14 (1)

11 15 WAR –•– Bruce Springsteen (Columbia)-5 (11)
12 13 DON’T GET ME WRONG –•– The Pretenders (Sire)-11 (12)
13 17 CONTROL –•– Janet Jackson (A&M)-8 (13)
14 6 YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME –•– Bon Jovi (Mercury)-16 (1)
15 18 IS THIS LOVE –•– Survivor (Scotti Brothers)-9 (15)
16 20 LAND OF CONFUSION –•– Genesis (Atlantic)-8 (16)
17 19 YOU KNOW I LOVE YOU… DON’T YOU? Howard Jones (Elektra)-10 (17)
18 21 VICTORY –•– Kool & The Gang (Mercury)-8 (18)
19 23 LOVE IS FOREVER –•– Billy Ocean (Jive)-9 (19)
20 26 THE FUTURE’S SO BRIGHT, I GOTTA WEAR SHADES –•– Timbuk 3 (I.R.S.)-9 (20)

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