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, singing 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.