Song: “Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players
Reached #1: January 31, 1976 (their second, 1 week)
OK, so this isn’t exactly the biggest #1 of the day… but I wanted to feature it for two reasons.
First, the urban legend. You won’t hear it on any of the YouTube versions I can find, but on the original recording, there is an unexpected scream during one of the instrumental bridges. In reality, it was lead singer Billy Bell. In the legend, it’s a woman being murdered (or critically injured) in an adjacent room while the take was being recorded, or it’s a tape of a murder that accidentally got mixed into the recording. Yeah, the legend isn’t all THAT specific. But it’s a testimony to the human ability to make something out of nothing that the legend has survived, and thrived, as long as the song has.
The second reason is a bit more personal. Those who know me offline know I’m a big fan of improv comedy – to the point where I did sound for a Richmond troupe for about a year. Now although that ended in fingerpointing and recriminations, I’m still a fan of the art form. One local performer, George Herring, has used this song to transform the standard “Dating Game”-style improv game into something quite fun indeed. George takes on a cheesy ‘70s TV pitchman persona and spouts off a ton of (really bad) “groovy” lines while using “Love Rollercoaster” as the theme song of the game. So I hear “Love Rollercoaster” and I laugh a little…
Wow. One month down, 11 to go. We’ll start February with the band that drew a line in the sand – to this day, radio stations divide the early days of rock into pre- and post-… this band. You know who it is.
Other songs that reached #1 on January 31:
1970 – “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 (their second, 1 week)
1981 – “The Tide Is High” by Blondie (their third, 1 week)
1998 – “Together Again” by Janet Jackson (her eighth, 2 weeks)