Song: “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Michael Bolton
Reached #1: November 23, 1991 (his second, 1 week)
Percy Sledge first took “When A Man Loves A Woman” to #1 in May 1966. It was a classic love song by a classic singer. It was also a act of generosity, as Sledge actually improvised the song lyrics in the studio, but published it with a writing credit for two of his band members (bassist Calvin Lewis, keyboardist Andrew Wright). That means that they have made a lot of money off the song for the last 45 years…
…and a good deal of that came off of royalties for Michael Bolton’s 1991 cover.
Bolton is a guy that – if you care at all – you either really love or really hate. Some love him for his classic Motown and R&B covers… some hate him for them. Some love his singing style… some hate him for selling out his original style.
You probably didn’t know this, but Michael Bolotin started out as a heavy-metal singer, with a band named for himself, and later with one called Blackjack, before abruptly changing direction in the early ‘80s. He switched to songwriting (writing with and for Laura Branigan; Cher covered “I Found Someone” after Branigan’s original release).
Then he discovered easy-listening music. First was “(Sitting On) The Dock Of The Bay”, then “Georgia On My Mind”, then the one that really got people’s attention (and a Grammy), “When A Man Loves A Woman”. While the song became his biggest hit, it was also a rapid falloff, with only one more Top 10 song after this.
He last charted in 1997 – but has continued to tour and direct-sell his music (through outlets like… QVC – see above).
While he does come off as a bit too polished, he’s not above poking fun at himself, with an appearance on SNL side project The Lonely Island’s 2011 video and single “Jack Sparrow”, where he played a befuddled version of himself.
He’s currently doing the small-venue/casino circuit.
Tomorrow, the first solo #1 from the Beatle nobody expected to have a solo #1…
Other songs that reached #1 on November 23:
1963 – “I’m Leaving It All Up To You” by Dale & Grace (their first, 2 weeks)
1974 – “I Can Help” by Billy Swan (his first, 2 weeks)