1979: My Birth Year In Music
My childhood memories of music mainly revolve around the 1980’s and 1990’s, and posters of Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, and in my teens, numerous boyband’s such as Take That, who I still admire today. But what, I thought to myself, of the years I am too young to remember, especially the year of my birth. A few Google searches later I have discovered my birth year in music, 1979.
While my parents were celebrating my birth on June 12th, the rest of the U.K might well have been listening to the number one single at the time, Anita Wards, ‘Ring My Bell’. One time Gospel singer Anita, reportedly didn’t like the ‘light disco’ track, even though the song became the only international hit of her career.
Meanwhile in the album charts, the Electric Light Orchestra hit number one with their album Discovery. Described as an ‘Art Rock’ act complete with a resident string section, E.L.O released Discovery in the midst of a long run of hit albums, and was the acts first U.K number one album.
I have to admit that although interesting to know, neither of the acts and their songs mentioned above really ‘ring my bell’, but there is a musical phenomenon from 1979 that has lived on in my musical memories, and C.D collection for years, DISCO!
I’ve always enjoyed listening, and singing along to, the classic disco songs and the cover versions they’ve spawned. For example, I’m not ashamed to admit I used to happily go along to Steps concerts knowing all the words and dance routines to their cover of the Bee Gees ‘Tragedy’; I wasn’t alone in that either!
The disco genre had arrived a long while before I was born, and had then lost its appeal somewhat, until the arrival in 1977 of the hit film ‘Saturday Night Fever’, an enduring success, thanks in part to the soundtrack, penned by musical legends the Bee Gees.
The Bee Gee’s In 1979
To write about the Bee Gees is something of an honour, and you can’t help but be inspired by their 40 year career, 200 million worldwide record sales, and their place in the top 5 most successful artists of all time.
With the vast amount of success the Bee Gees have had in their career, there has rarely been a quiet time, although 1979 wasn’t notable for their songs appearing in films. Just one appearance that year for ‘Night Fever in the movie ‘Luna’, but this film has been added to a tally of some 96 films that have featured their songs. Not only that, but 1979 was also the year that Barry, Robin, and their late brother Maurice Gibb, were awarded with a star on the world famous ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’. That same year they also won 2 American Music Awards, 4 Ivor Novello Awards, and 4 Grammy’s. Two songs from ‘Saturday Night Fever’ were recognised at the Ivor Novello awards, with ‘Stayin Alive’ picking up the ‘International Hit of the Year’ award, and ‘Night Fever’ being crowned ‘Most Performed Work’ and ‘Best Selling A-Side’. A well deserved list of accolades, but they weren’t the only super group to achieve success in 1979.
Abba in 1979
Bjorn, Benny, Agnetha, and Anni-Frid were Sweden’s most successful pop group ever, and will always be remembered for winning the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974 with ‘Waterloo’. This was the group’s first U.K number one, and a reflection of the early 70’s glam rock era. By the time 1979 came around, Bjorn and Benny’s song writing partnership had produced a string of hit songs, including Mamma Mia, Fernando, and Dancing Queen, all in an infectious European pop style that was well received in the U.K and Australia, with moderate success in America. Then came the arrival of disco music, and Abba followed this trend with their album Voulez Vous. A year in the making, it produced several memorable songs, such as ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)’, title track ‘Voulez Vous’, and ‘I Have A Dream’.
Abba eventually split up in 1982 for personal reasons, but they left behind a musical legacy that is still a big part of our musical today. Tribute bands and cover versions have regularly been heard, and original Abba music still generates substantial sales, thanks in part to the huge worldwide success of the film and musical versions of ‘Mamma Mia’.
Other Hits in 1979
1979 wasn’t just the year of Abba and The Bee Gee’s. Many other artists released songs too, some of which are still popular today. See how many you recognise from this selection;
- Dionne Warwick: Déjà Vu. This reached number 15 in Billboards Hot 100 chart and was also produced by musical legend Barry Manilow.
- Status Quo: Whatever You Want. A number 4 hit in the U.K charts and still a popular addition to the bands set list for concerts.
- Squeeze: Cool For Cats. This reached number 2 in the U.K charts, and was more recently heard on an advert for milk.
- Mcfadden and Whitehead: Aint No Stopping Us Now. This track reached number 1 in Billboards R&B chart and has since been covered by numerous artists.
- Queen: Crazy Little Thing Called Love. Number 1 in America, Number Two in the U.K. a super hit for a super group!
This is just a snapshot of the songs released in the year I was born, other well known acts such as Cliff Richard, Blondie, Sister Sledge, and Michael Jackson also made their mark in 1979. But what were people listening to the year you were born? Maybe it’s time to find out?!