We’re taking a look back at the career of the group behind hits such as “Brick House”, “Easy” and “Three Times a Lady”, The Commodores.
After being signed to Motown in 1971, the group was the opening act for The Jackson 5 on tour.
The group was originally formed as a result of two groups disbanding, named The Mystics and The Jays.
When the newly formed group could not decide on a name, co-founding member William King opened the dictionary and picked a random word. “We almost became the Commodes,” King has remarked.
The original members, William King (trumpet), Thomas McClary (guitar), Ronald LaPread (bass), Walter “Clyde” Orange (drums), Lionel Richie (saxophone), and Milan Williams (keyboards) all attended Tuskegee University in Alabama together and won the annual freshman talent contest.
“Sweet Love,” written by Richie, became the group’s first Top 10 success on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1976, and “Three Times A Lady” also penned by Richie, became their first no.1 in 1978 , hitting the top spot in both the UK and US.
The Commodores’ Midnight Magic LP, which features “Sail On” and “Still” remained in the Top 10 for 20 weeks.
In 1986, The Commodores won a Grammy for the song “Nightshift” which was a tribute to Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson.
In 2003, Commodores were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
They are the only Motown act to have three consecutive Top 3 albums in the Billboard pop chart, and went on to become the biggest selling band at Motown.
The Commodores still perform today with co-founding member William King as well as Walter Orange and J.D. Nicholas.