For Diana Ross who turned 70 today, here are three of her biggest hits. For a full tribute to her towering role in 20th Century popular music, click here to link to a piece in the British paper The Telegraph written to mark her 70th. But for now, I want to focus on just three songs, all three written by A-list artists, all three amongst her strongest solo recordings.
Song 1: Upside Down – written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, US #1 1980. A tougher, more vocally complex work than Edwards and Rodgers had written before, the guitar work at the song’s end is one of my all-time favourite R&B guitar solos.
Song 2: Missing You – written by Lionel Richie, US #10 1984. Penned by Richie as a tribute to Marvin Gaye, it was a hit at the same time as his former bandmates The Commodores were topping charts with their own Gaye tribute, Nightshift.
Song 3: Chain Reaction – written by Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb, UK #1 1986. For those who thought the Bee Gees disappeared in the 1980s, they didn’t – they just often gave their best material that decade to other artists. This terrific Motown-throwback missed in the States, but became Diana Ross’ biggest ever solo hit in the UK in early 1986. The Bee Gees would reach UK #1 again the following year in their own right with You Win Again.
All told, Diana Ross had 18 songs hit US #1 – 12 as a member of The Supremes and six as a solo artist. On statistics alone, she is easily one of the most successful recording artists of all time. She also shares her birthday with my Mum! Something I didn’t know until today, so happy birthday Miss Ross and Mrs Roxborogh.