Gene McDaniels And The BBC

There is an old adage that says that all publicity is good publicity. I’m not sure that it’s always true in today’s nutsy world, but there is one type of notoriety that will always boost interest in a book, a movie, or a song — being banned.

Born in Kansas City, Gene McDaniels grew up in Omaha, and certainly didn’t start out like someone who would later have a banned song. In fact, his earliest singing was as part of the church choir, something he had in common with countless other performers through the years. After spending some time at the Omaha Conservatory of Music, McDaniels began his professional career in the 1950s, gmcsinging in front of his own musical group. By the end of the decade he’d managed to land a recording contract, and in 1961 he recorded the memorable “A Hundred Pounds Of Clay.”

The song, written by Luther Dixon, who also composed “Sixteen Candles” and the Shirelles’ “Soldier Boy,” became a big hit for McDaniels. Although it was good song, it was probably helped by BBC radio banning it because they felt it was disrespectful of women and even sacrilegious.

McDaniels went on to have several other good sellers over the next few years, including “A Tower Of Strength,” “Point Of No Return,” and “Another Tear Falls.” (Video below.) In the latter part of the decade he began to lean away from pop and closer to traditional R&B, and by the 1970s was also beginning to find some success as a songwriter. His “Feel Like Making Love” was a huge hit for Roberta Flack in 1974.

In the decades since, Gene McDaniels has continued to write songs, and eventually added music producing to his skills. He’s also spent some time in Hollywood, not only producing soundtracks but even writing a screenplay. Not a bad career for a guy whose first hit was banned by the BBC.

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2 thoughts on “Gene McDaniels And The BBC

  1. Hello BG, nice blog. Your comment about the BBC banning Gene McDaniel’s first hit touched a chord. In the am only radio days of the fifties the BBC was the dead hand of UK broadcasting that tried its damnedest to stifle rock and roll in the UK.

    The only alternative for those who wanted to hear such music was Radio Luxembourg which broadcast to the UK across the stormy North Sea with a signal that was full of fading and interference. Also, the am signal did strange thing to the balance of many records. I remember a prime example was Bobby Freeman’s ‘Do You Want To Dance’, which came over as a huge musical din with a faint voice trying to be heard over the top. A year or so later when I bought the actual record second-hand from a market stall, I was almost disappointed to find the vocal/backing balance was actually perfectly fine – guess I must have been a fan of the primitive garage band sound before there actually were any of them!

    Fortunately in the mid 60s, pirate radio ships came to the UK and forced the antedeluvian BBC management to wake its ideas up. By then I was already living in South Africa, another bastion of banning. There we had a curiously similar situation, where the alternative Mocambiquan LM radio broadcast everything we wanted to hear – especially anything that was banned by the SABC – again in am, but with a good signal.

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