Classics: Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off (10 Records)
A Soul Train dancer who would briefly collaborate with Shalamar, Jermaine Stewart scored his biggest success back in 1986. This with ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’. An uplifting safe-sex jam taken from his ‘Frantic Romantic’ album with production work courtesy of Narada Michael Walden along with Preston Glass. Something you could definitely tell. As in a vein somehow reminding of Aretha Franklin‘s ‘Freeway Of Love’. The whole with Jerry Hey on horns. But also Sammy Figueroa on percusssion and Randy Jackson on bass.
Now with time, ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’ has a special resonance. This from a man who sadly died of AIDS-related liver cancer in his native Chicago at the early age of 39, back in 1997…
A native of Columbus, OH, Jermaine Stewart relocated with his fam to Chicago, IL, when he was 15. There, he made himself a name as a dancer on locally produced famous TV show, ‘Soul Train’. Eventually befriending two other Soul Train dancers by the likes of Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel. After the show relocated to Los Angeles, CA, they auditioned to become members of Shalamar… A group which Soul Train creator Don Cornelius was then putting together with booking agent and future SOLAR CEO Dick Griffey. Watley and Daniel passed the selection. But Stewart lost out to Gary Mumford during his audition to become the lead vocalist of the group.
Stewart remained with Shalamar, touring as a dancer for several years though. While in London, he eventually met Mikey Craig of Culture Club. The latter assisting him to put a demo tape together. This bringing him the opportunity to sing background vocals on Culture Club‘s ‘Miss Me Blind’. Then soon after to secure a record deal with Arista Stateside via 10 Records in the UK.
Jermaine Stewart made a bit of noise with his debut-album – ‘The Word Is Out’ – back in 1984. However, he would get to bigger recognition with its follow-up – ‘Frantic Romantic’ – two years after. With thanks to its opening single – ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’ – and its instantly recognizable production work by the likes of Narada Michael Walden and Preston Glass.
Both the album and ‘We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off’ on the single front would be Jermaine Stewart‘s biggest successes ever. Other cuts worth the mention including ‘Jody’, from the same album. Then ‘Say It Again’, a cover version of a Bunny Sigler penned song initially sung by Shawn Christopher, with production work courtesy of Jerry Knight and Aaron Zigman. This in addition to ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Don’t Talk Dirty To Me’.
Jermaine Stewart released a fourth album on Arista – ‘What Becomes A Legend Most’ – failed to make any noise. With the same happening to its singles as a matter of fact. This bringin’ the parties to soon after put an end to their contractual relationship. Then, by 1992, he eventually recorded a (last) album along with Chicago producer Jesse Saunders for Reprise Records. But it never commercially saw the light as of yet.
Jermaine Stewart sadly died of AIDS-related liver cancer on March 17, 1997 in the Chicago suburb of Homewood, IL. He was 39.