arry Wayne Casey and Richard Finch were struggling novices at Henry Stone's T.K. Records in Hialeah, Florida, when they wrote and produced George McCrae's "Rock Your Baby." Just 13 months later, Casey and Finch would record "Get Down Tonight," their own number one single with their group, KC and the Sunshine Band.
The track took less than an hour to complete, at a cost estimated by Finch and Casey at around $15. "It took us about 45 minutes to get the keyboard, bass and drum track down," Finch said in a 1974 Billboard interview. Casey added, "We used scrap tape and only had to pay Jerome Smith, the guitarist. I did keyboard and Rick was on bass and drums."
They took the track to Stone and his A&R chief, Steve Alaimo (who had a 1963 hit with "Every Day I Have to Cry"). "We went down to Henry's office and put the tape on, and he and Steve flipped over it and said not to change a single thing," Casey said.
They considered two male singers for the track, McCrae and Horne. Their decision was made for them when McCrae happened to walk into the studio the next day and hear the instrumental track. In two takes, he had completed a vocal track.
"Rock Your Baby" entered the Billboard Hot 100 on June 1, 1974. Seven weeks later, it provided disco music with a one-two punch by following the Hues Corporation's "Rock the Boat" into the number one position.
George McCrae, born October 19, 1944, in West Palm Beach, Florida, had put together a couple of groups in high school, the Fabulous Stepbrothers and the Jiving Jets. He spent four years in the Navy and organized a group there, too, called Atsugi Express.
George met his wife Gwen in the late '60s and after they were married, both were signed to Stone's Alston label. They recorded as a duo, but without much success. Finally, Gwen left the label to sign with Columbia. "I decided to study criminal justice and concentrate on Gwen's career," McCrae told Billboard. "The important thing at the time was that I had the responsibility of rearing a family, and it just wasn't happening for me in the music business. It wasn't an easy decision. After two years, I finally decided that I had to give it one more try. So I went to Steve Alaimo and asked him if he had any material that I could record."
"Rock Your Baby" was McCrae's only top 30 hit. In May, 1975, Gwen's recording of "Rockin' Chair" entered the Hot 100 and went to number nine. After they both had national hits, they recorded an album of duets. McCrae signed with Gold Mountain Records, an A&M distributed label, in 1984. On January 24, 1986, he died of cancer.
- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.
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