Charlie's 80s Blog

This Day In 80s Music, April 1st

On this day back in 1984: Marvin Gaye was shot dead by his father at his parent’s home in Los Angeles, California. The argument started after his parents squabbled over misplaced business documents, Gaye attempted to intervene, and was killed by his father using a gun he had given him four months before. Marvin Sr. was sentenced to six years of probation after pleading guilty to manslaughter. Charges of first-degree murder were dropped after doctors discovered Marvin Sr. had a brain tumor.

On this day back in 1985: David Lee Roth quit Van Halen shortly after releasing his version of The Beach Boys’ ‘California Girls’, (which featured Carl Wilson on background vocals). He was replaced by Sammy Hagar later in the year.

On this day back in 1989: The Bangles went to #1 on the U.S. singles chart with ‘Eternal Flame’.

“Eternal Flame” was recorded  for their 1988 album, ‘Everything’ and was written by group member Susanna Hoffs with the established hit songwriting team of Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. Upon its 1989 single release, “Eternal Flame” became a #1 hit in nine countries, including Australia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Two of the song’s three writers, Tom Kelly and Susanna Hoffs, had met at a Bangles’ October 30, 1986, concert at the Avalon Hollywood (then the Palace). Kelly attended the concert and met the group’s members, including Hoffs, backstage. This led to Hoffs writing songs with Kelly and his regular songwriting partner Billy Steinberg. The trio’s first composition to be recorded was “I Need a Disguise”, which Belinda Carlisle recorded for her 1986 debut solo album. The Bangles’ 1988 album ‘Everything’ would feature two Hoffs/ Kelly/ Steinberg compositions, both with lead vocals by Hoffs: the upbeat lead single “In Your Room” and “Eternal Flame”.

The focal metaphor of “Eternal Flame” was suggested by two eternal flames: one at the gravesite of Elvis Presley at Graceland, where the Bangles had been given a private tour. Hoffs said, “we were taken out to the Garden of Memories, and there was this little box which was supposed to have a lit flame in it, an eternal flame. Actually, that day it was raining so the flame was not on”—and one at a local synagogue in Palm Springs which Steinberg attended as a child. Steinberg explained, “Susanna was talking about the Bangles having visited Graceland, and she said there was some type of shrine to Elvis that included some kind of eternal flame. As soon as those words were mentioned, I immediately thought of the synagogue in the town of Palm Springs, California where I grew up. I remember during our Sunday school class they would walk us through the sanctuary. There was one little red light and they told us it was called the eternal flame.”

Here’s a look at the complete Top 20 on the U.S. singles chart from this day back in 1989:

1 2 ETERNAL FLAME –•– The Bangles – 9 (1)
2 3 GIRL YOU KNOW IT’S TRUE –•– Milli Vanilli – 13 (2)
3 4 THE LOOK –•– Roxette – 8 (3)
4 5 MY HEART CAN’T TELL YOU NO –•– Rod Stewart – 17 (4)
5 1 THE LIVING YEARS –•– Mike & The Mechanics – 13 (1)
6 7 SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY –•– Fine Young Cannibals – 10 (6)
7 8 WALK THE DINOSAUR –•– Was Not Was – 10 (7)
8 14 STAND –•– R.E.M. – 11 (8)
9 12 DREAMIN’ –•– Vanessa Williams – 13 (9)
10 6 LOST IN YOUR EYES –•– Debbie Gibson – 11 (1)

11 25 LIKE A PRAYER –•– Madonna – 3 (11)
12 16 YOU GOT IT –•– Roy Orbison – 11 (12)
13 17 SUPERWOMAN –•– Karyn White – 10 (13)
14 15 JUST BECAUSE –•– Anita Baker – 11 (14)
15 10 YOU’RE NOT ALONE –•– Chicago – 11 (10)
16 20 YOUR MAMA DON’T DANCE –•– Poison – 7 (16)
17 26 FUNKY COLD MEDIA –•– Tone Loc – 5 (17)
18 21 MORE THAN YOU KNOW –•– Martika – 15 (18)
19 24 HEAVEN HELP ME –•– Deon Estus – 6 (19)
20 27 I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU –•– Bon Jovi – 5 (20)

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