Classics: Edwin Starr – HAPPY Radio (20th Century Fox)
By the one who set up himself a name in the history. This while delivering the memorable ‘War’ along with producer Norman Whitfield back in 1970 as a reaction against the Vietnam War. A cut standing among the most famous protest songs of all time.
Edwin Starr made quite some noise as well in the Disco scene. This with both ‘Contact’ and ‘HAPPY Radio’ (where the hell can we find some nowadays?), respectively in 1978 and 1979. Both with mixing work courtesy of Rick Gianatos.
Nashville, TN native Charles Edwin Hatcher got raised in Ohio before relocating to Detroit, MI during his teens. He would get his first break on TV though. This while makin’ an appearance on ‘The Uncle Jake Show’, performing with Billie Holiday.
In 1957, only aged 15, he formed a Doo-Wop group by the likes of the Future Tones. His debut-single -‘Agent Double O Soul’ – saw the light back in 1965 on local label Ric-Tic Records. A reference to famous British Agent James Bond, it got him straight to a certain recognition. Opening the path to further cuts for the label the same year. Meanwhile 1966 would see him delivering his debut for Motown with the Norman Whiftield produced ‘I Want My Baby Back’. He would enjoy his first international success 3 years after though. This by the likes of ’25 Miles’ (also recorded by Michael Jackson), which he co-wrote with Johnny Bristol and Harvey Fuqua. His backing singers at the time being Total Concept Unlimited who later became Rose Royce.
The biggest hit of his career is without a single doubt ‘War’ with production work courtesy of Norman Whitfield. His version of it selling more than 3 million copies worldwide. Meanwhile turning itself into an anthem for the antiwar movement. Still resonating nowadays in movie soundtracks and in the Hip-Hop scene.
Extra worth the mention gems followed when he switched from Motown to 20th Century Fox. Eventually venturing into Disco territories. This with ‘Contact’ from his 1978 ‘Clean’ album. Then ‘It’s Called The Rock’ and ‘HAPPY Radio’ from his album of the likes the year after. With both of them receiving the mixing treatment of Rick Gianatos. Another worth the listen gem would follow the year after. This under the form of the phonky ‘Boop Boop Song’. But it only saw the light as the flipside of the M.O.R. ‘Tell-A-Star’ and, as a direct result, failed to get the recognition it deserved. Starr leavin’ 20th Century Fox soon after its release and the one of ‘his 1980 ‘Stronger Than You Think You Are’ album…
Relocated to England since 1973, he enjoyed experiences with various labels including Motorcity. He nevertheless never managed to recapture the position that was his during the 70’s.
Edwin Starr sadly died of a heart Attack aged 61 on Apr. 02, 2003, while taking a bath at his home in Bramcote near Nottingham…