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Song Anniversary: Earth Wind & Fire’s 1979 Signature Hits

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In June 1979, Earth Wind & Fire (EW&F) released their ninth studio album, I Am. It was also their second from their CBS-distributed label American Recording Company (ARC). It reached number three on the pop charts while topping the R&B side, and sold two million copies. And among the album’s nine tracks, two became hits, as well as R&B and pop signatures. And they were the first two singles released.

The first single was “Boogie Wonderland”, which EW&F collaborated with the Emotions. Released in May 1979, the song hit the top ten on both the pop and R&B charts, and while EW&F were never considered a disco act, it was a chance to put their stamp on the genre, as it was at the time ruling the charts. Needless to say, the song became the genre’s biggest classics, and would prevail over the years, as it would not only continue to be a radio staple, but would also appear in various films including Happy Feet, 200 Cigarettes, and Caddyshack.

The next single released from I Am would be even bigger. The album’s centerpiece “After the Love is Gone”, hit number two on both the pop and R&B charts, and went on to win two Grammys. Like “Boogie Wonderland” the single was also be certified gold. The song was covered and sampled by mostly jazz and soul artists including Airplay (a band consisting of the song’s writers David Foster and Jay Graydon, and featuring Bill Champlin) and 112. It was also played in a few TV shows, including most particularly during an episode on WKRP in Cincinnati, where the song’s play was dedicated to the fans killed in the stampede of concertgoers during a Who concert. And like “Boogie Wonderland”, “After the Love is Gone” is also a strong radio staple, heard even to this day.

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