We lost two great women this week. Elizabeth Taylor will remembered not only for her acting achievements and many marriages, but especially for her early efforts to raise awareness around HIV/AIDS. While most public figures were sitting on the sidelines, afraid to even utter those letters, Taylor used her outsize fame to bring media coverage to the disease and funding for research. Through her own foundation and additional charity efforts, she raised millions of dollars and saved countless lives.
The music world is mourning the passing of Loleatta Holloway, who died unexpectedly on Monday at 64, with artists like Alphabeat and Boy George paying their respects. Holloway began her career as a gospel singer, but found her true calling as a disco singer with songs like “Dreamin’” (1976), “Hit and Run” (1977), and especially “Love Sensation,” a #1 dance hit in 1980. If, like me, you were much too young to have heard those records spun in their original setting, then you probably know Holloway’s voice from pair of early ’90s classics, Black Box’s “Ride On Time” and Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations,” both of which are built with bits of “Love Sensation.”
In 1989, Italian production team Black Box sampled Holloway’s “Love Sensation” vocals for “Ride On Time,” though at first her contribution went uncredited. Arrangements had been made with Salsoul Records, which had released the original track, but Holloway hadn’t been paid by the label in years. She took her story to the press and successfully won a settlement (songwriter Dan Hartman was also compensated).
In response, Black Box hired a pre-M People Heather Small to re-sing it, releasing that version as a single. Neither charted very well in the U.S., but Holloway’s unmistakable vocals (included on the album Dreamland) are what make “Ride On Time” so memorable, and as much as I love Small, don’t accept anything less than the original:
Called upon to re-sing her part for Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations,” Holloway not only scored a prominent credit on the single, but she appeared in its much-watched video (a shirtless Mark Wahlberg earned the clip endless repeats). Blending house music with hip-hop, “Good Vibrations” reached #1 on October 5, 1991, Holloway’s first and only time at the top of the Hot 100.
“Love Sensation” had still more life left in it, returning to the Dance/Club Play chart several more times. New remixes were released in 1993, 2000 (as “Chocolate Sensation Rides On Time”), and 2006, which brought this fantastic rework from Freemasons.
The Bristol-based duo has often referenced disco in their productions, so Freemasons’ pairing with one of the original dance divas (on one of the genre’s biggest hits) is beyond amazing. There’s real love in these Freemasons grooves, and upon learning of Holloway’s passing on Monday, they were quick to pay respects, aware of the void she’d left.