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FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – I remember the disco era from the 1970’s like it was yesterday. In looking back, very few events have had such an impact on world media, culture, and lifestyles as did disco.
Disco is actually an amalgamation of several other forms of music: R&B, funk, soul, pop, and salsa. The word disco is short for the French word “discothequé” which means “library of phonograph records” but was synonymous for nightclubs in Paris that played records rather than live music. In the early 70’s, record labels started to produce disco music in the US and radio stations then started jumping on the bandwagon by adding more disco songs to their playlist as the genre gained popularity.
One of the most successful “disco” radio stations in America was WKTU-FM in New York City, owned by SJR Communications. I first knew about “92KTU” when I was working out of Tampa FL for the company that bought WKTU and then sold it to Infinity Broadcasting in 1981, so I got to see their studios. Not only was WKTU the #1 radio station in New York during the 70’s and early 80’s, it was also one of the top billing radio station in America (today WKTU is on 103.5 and owned by iHeart Radio with a Hot AC format). Great DJs went through WKTU such as Al Bandiero, Michelle Visage, Diane Prior, and Broadway Bill Lee (who is now doing afternoons on WCBS-FM 101.1 in NYC).
Disco also hit the TV airwaves as well with shows like Soul Train, American Bandstand, and Dance Fever. The clothes people wore were impacted by disco. There were movies about the disco craze, like Saturday Night Fever with John Travolta. Non disco artists jumped on this craze and recorded in the disco format, such as Diana Ross with Love Hangover. However, by late 1979, the disco era in the US started to fade away and rock music started to revive again.
Now I could write several blogs about disco but let’s now show you the top 10 disco songs from the 70’s and 80’s as determined by Billboard Magazine:
10. Get Up… I Feel Like A Sex Machine (James Brown, 1970)
9. Billie Jean (Michael Jackson, 1982)
8. Born To Be Alive (Patrick Hernandez, 1979)
7. YMCA (Village People, 1978)
6. Disco Inferno (Trammps, 1976)
5. Funky Town (Lipps Inc, 1979)
4. Super Freak (Rick James, 1981)
3. Stayin’ Alive (Bee Gees, 1977)
2. Le Freak (Chic, 1978)
And the top disco song of that era? Written by Freddie Perrin and Dino Fekaris, it was a #1 hit in 1979 for a lady from Newark NJ named Gloria Fowles… but you know her better as Gloria Gaynor. It would be the last time she would chart on the Billboard Top 40. She is still active today and tours all over the world.
But a few years ago I came across an artist and song I had forgotten about. From West Palm Beach FL, he had a hit in 1978 that, while only charted #38 on the Billboard Top 40, is fun to listen to. Written and produced by Harry “KC” Casey of KC & The Sunshine Band fame, it’s Jimmy Bo Horn with “Dance Across The Floor.” Check out the video above.