April 1976: Johnnie Taylor's "Disco Lady" is the #1 Song in America

Soul singer Johnnie Taylor poses for a portrait at the Beverly Hills Hotel on July 10, 1972 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
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(Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

It could be argued that April 1976 was the funkiest month in American history. The country was so deep into the slinky grooves of Johnnie Taylor's "Disco Lady" that it was the #1 song on the Hot 100 for the entire month.

Taylor was no fly-by-night act. The Arkansas native was known as "The Philosopher of Soul" during his stint with Stax Records in the 1960s through the label's dissolution in 1975. 

Taking his show to Columbia Records, he would release "Disco Lady" as his first single for the label. Recorded at Detroit's legendary United Sound Studios, the session would find Taylor essentially fronting a version of Parliament-Funkadelic: Bootsy Collins (bass), Bernie Worrell (keyboards), Glenn Goins (guitar) and Tiki Fulwood (drums). Singing background vocals: Thelma Hopkins, then best known as one-half of Tony Orlando's Dawn.

While it was far from the first disco record to hit #1, "Disco Lady" was the first song with the word "disco" in the title to top the Hot 100. It would reach #1 on April 3, 1976. It would hold onto the position until May 1, 1976, when it was dethroned by Bellamy Brothers' "Let Your Love Flow."

The song would be nominated for the Best Male R&B Vocal Performance, but the award would go to Stevie Wonder for "I Wish."

"Disco Lady" was the first song to be certified platinum (1 million copies sold) by the RIAA. Legend has it that Taylor celebrated by taking a bath in Dom Perignon champagne. At the end of 1976, Billboard would rank it was the #3 song of the year behind Paul McCartney & Wings' "Silly Love Songs" (#1) and Elton John & Kiki Dee's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" (#2). 

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