Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In Music, February 28th

On this day in 1981: Country music star Eddie Rabbitt crossed over to the Pop chart to score a U.S. #1 hit with ‘I Love a Rainy Night’. He had earlier written the Elvis Presley smash ‘Kentucky Rain’ before having a #5 hit with ‘Drivin’ My Life Away’.

“I Love a Rainy Night” was 12 years in the making. Rabbitt had a collection of old tapes he kept in the basement of his home. While rummaging through the tapes one day in 1980, he heard a fragment of a song he had recorded one rainy night in the late 1960s.

“It brought back the memory of sitting in a small apartment, staring out the window at one o’clock in the morning, watching the rain come down,” wrote Fred Bronson in The Billboard Book of Number One Hits. “He sang into his tape recorder, ‘I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night.'”

Upon rediscovery of the old lyrics, Rabbitt completed the song (with help from frequent songwriting partners Even Stevens and David Malloy) and recorded it.

The result included vivid descriptions of a man’s fondness for thunderstorms and the peace it brings him (“I love to hear the thunder/watch the lightnin’ when it lights up the sky/you know it makes me feel good”) and a renewed sense of hope the storms bring (“Showers wash all my cares away/I wake up to a sunny day”).

The song’s other distinctive feature is its rhythmic pattern of alternating finger snaps and hand claps, which was included with the help of percussionist Farrell Morris, who, according to The Billboard Book of Number One Country Hits, mixed two tracks of each to complete the record.

On February 28, 1981 the song succeeded Dolly Parton’s hit film theme song “9 to 5” in the #1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart. On March 14, Parton’s song returned to the top spot—the last time, to date, that the pop chart featured back-to-back “country” singles in the top position.

“I Love a Rainy Night” came during Rabbitt’s peak popularity as a crossover artist. The follow-up to ‘Drivin’ My Life Away’ (a #1 country chart hit and #5 Hot 100 hit), the song was Rabbitt’s only Hot 100 number one. But his crossover success continued with the follow-ups “Step by Step” and “You and I” (the latter a duet with Crystal Gayle).

Here is a look at the complete Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1981:

1 2 I LOVE A RAINY NIGHT –•– Eddie Rabbitt (Elektra)-17 (1 week at #1) (1)
2 1 9 TO 5 –•– Dolly Parton (RCA)-14 (1)
3 4 WOMAN –•– John Lennon (Geffen)-7 (3)
4 3 CELEBRATION –•– Kool and the Gang (De-Lite)-19 (1)
5 6 KEEP ON LOVING YOU –•– REO Speedwagon (Epic)-14 (5)
6 7 THE BEST OF TIMES –•– Styx (A&M)-6 (6)
7 5 THE TIDE IS HIGH –•– Blondie (Chrysalis)-16 (1)
8 8 GIVING IT UP FOR YOUR LOVE –•Delbert McClinton (Capitol/MSS)-13 (8)
9 9 SAME OLD LANG SYNE –•– Dan Fogelberg (Epic / Full Moon)-12 (9)
10 12 THE WINNER TAKES IT ALL –•– Abba (Atlantic)-15 (10)

11 15 CRYING –•– Don McLean (Millennium)-6 (11)
12 14 I AIN’T GONNA STAND FOR IT –•– Stevie Wonder (Tamla)-12 (12)
13 11 PASSION –•– Rod Stewart (Warner Brothers)-15 (5)
14 17 HELLO AGAIN –•– Neil Diamond (Capitol)-5 (14)
15 19 RAPTURE –•– Blondie (Chrysalis)-5 (15)
16 13 (Just Like) STARTING OVER –•– John Lennon (Geffen)-18 (1)
17 10 HEY NINETEEN –•– Steely Dan (MCA)-14 (10)
18 18 TOGETHER –•– Tierra (Boardwalk)-17 (18)
19 21 A LITTLE IN LOVE –•– Cliff Richard (EMI-America)-12 (19)
20 26 WHAT KIND OF FOOL –•– Barbra Streisand and Barry Gibb (Columbia)-5 (20)

On this day in 1983: U2 released their third studio album ‘War’. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, the album has come to be regarded as U2’s first overtly political album, in part because of songs like ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and ‘New Year’s Day.’ War became the band’s first #1 album in the U.K. (knocking Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”from the top of the charts). The boy on the cover of the album is Peter Rowen (the brother of Bono’s friend, Guggi from The Virgin Prunes).

On this day in 1984: Michael Jackson won a record eight Grammy awards including: Album of the year for “Thriller”; Record of the year and Best rock vocal performance for ‘Beat It’; Best pop vocal performance, Best R&B performance and Best R&B song for ‘Billie Jean’, and Best Recording For Children for E.T The Extra Terrestrial.

On this day in 1986: George Michael announced that Wham! would officially split during the summer. Wham became one of the most successful pop acts of the 1980s, selling more than 30 million records worldwide from 1982 to 1986. The singles ‘Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go’, ‘Everything She Wants’ and ‘Careless Whisper’, all topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US.

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