The Commodores would already have four full-length records to the band's credit before finally delivering a self-titled album. It was an inspired choice, as the nine-track studio effort would be a massive success. Released on March 30, 1977, here are five big facts about Commodores.
1. The lyrics to hit single "Brick House" were written by the trumpet player's wife.
It's a classic soul music legend: during some downtime in the studio, Commodores bass player Ronald LaPread, came up with a funky bass line. It inspired the rest of the band to join in and start playing along. When the group's producer, James Carmichael, heard what they'd come up with, he suggested they turn it into a song for the album. When trumpet player William King played the demo tape for his wife, songwriter Shirley Hanna-King, she came up with the "Brick House" concept and lyrics while her husband was sleeping: “I was so tired. And my wife had heard the track over and over again on the cassette," King told the San Luis Obispo Tribune. “So when I woke up, all the lyrics were on this pad,” King said. “I read them and I thought, ‘These are the best lyrics I ever wrote!’”
2. "Easy" would peak at #7 on the Hot 100 and cement Lionel Richie's status as a hit songwriter.
While the Commodores would emerge as a funk band, the presence of Lionel Richie would give the band an unlikely secret weapon: ballads. After the breakout success of 1976 single, "Just to Be Close to You," the group would lean into Richie's softer side. "Easy" would literally match the success of "Just to Be Close to You," with both singles peaking at #7 on the US pop charts.
3. Fan favorite "Zoom" wasn't a single for a tragic reason
One of the most popular songs in the Commodores catalog, "Zoom," would have been a single under normal circumstances. But the song, which was inspired by the tragic death of trumpet player Ronald LaPread's wife, Kathy Faye LaPread, would serve a greater good: "The rule with the Commodores was that the best song on any given album was the single," LaPread revealed in book Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song. "When that album came out, they all agreed that 'Zoom' was the best song, but didn't want to release it as the single so people would have to buy the album to get the song. The album did sell millions of units." The band dedicated the album to Kathy's memory.
4. "Patch it Up" was a nod to Commodore's funky roots
Commodores keyboard player, Milan Williams, had been responsible for writing the group's first hit song, "Machine Gun." His lone track on Commodores was a classic funk track true to the band's beginnings as a hard funk act.
5. Commodores would peak at #3 on the US album charts.
A mainstream breakthrough, only two albums would keep the Commodores from topping the album charts the week of it's peak, June 18, 1977: Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (#1) and The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl (#2).