The Story Behind Gwen McCrae’s “Rockin’ Chair”
“Gwen McCrae, wow, she can sing her ass off, and such a cool chick too. She was very helpful in the TK studio days with her background singing. And then of course “Rockin’ Chair” was a million seller.
George McCrae was her husband and chauffeur at the time, he’d drive her down from West Palm Beach where they lived. He’d recently had his big Henry Stone TK Disco hit “Rock Your Baby.” Gwen was so upset that he had a hit and she hadn’t. She was practically screaming in the studio. I can remember her voice ringing out through my Tone Distribution warehouse. And she had a huge voice. Man was she pissed.
She’d had some fairly good releases out before “Rockin’ Chair” such as “For Your Love,” and a few other nice records that did fairly well on my Cat label, but nothin’ like “Rock Your Baby.”
That’s when I sat down with Clarence Reid to discuss material for Gwen’s next session. I said, “Clarence, we gotta come up with a hit for Gwen.” Clarence came up with the idea for “Rockin’ Chair” and we took Gwen upstairs to my 8 track studio with our great TK session musicians and recorded the hit classic “Rockin’ Chair.”
We didn’t mess around. We knocked that out in one night. Boom. For an album you gotta do a whole bunch to get it all soundin’ right. But singles, we used to knock em’ out. I was in the studio when they recorded the song and I liked the groove. When we hit the first groove I knew it was a hit. We released the record and it became a million selling record for Gwen.
Rockin’ Chair” went #1 on the Billboard black charts, and it went into the top ten on the Billboard pop charts. She earned gold records from Billboard, Cashbox, and Record World Magazines. In fact, she and George were presented with a gold rocking chair inscribed with “Rock Your Baby In Your Rockin’ Chair.”
Then, in 2006 I recorded “Gwen McCrae Sings TK” and “Rockin’ Chair” became one of the leading tracks on that album.
Check out Gwen McCrae on Latimore’s “Hit The Road Jack” with The Craettes, her daughters Leah, and Sofia alongside her.”
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