Shalamar // is an American music group, primarily active in the 1970s and 1980s, that was originally a disco-driven vehicle created by Soul Train booking agent Dick Griffey and show creator Don Cornelius. They went on to be an influential dance trio, masterminded by Soul Train producer Don Cornelius. As noted in the British Hit Singles & Albums, they were regarded as fashion icons and trendsetters, and helped to introduce 'body-popping' to the United Kingdom. Their collective name 'Shalamar' was picked by Griffey.
Their first hit was the 1975 Motown-inspired production "Uptown Festival," and released on Soul Train Records the success of which inspired Griffey and Don Cornelius to replace sessionsingers with popular Soul Train dancers Jody Watley and Jeffrey Daniel to join original Shalamar lead singer Gary Mumford. Gerald Brown would take over the spot vacated by Mumford in 1978 for the Disco Gardens album which featured the hit "Take That To The Bank". After conflicts over lack of payment from Dick Griffey and Solar Records, Brown would leave the group.Brown was replaced by Howard Hewett in 1979.
In the UK the group had a string of hits with songs such as "Take That to the Bank" (1978), "I Owe You One" (1980) and 1982's "I Can Make You Feel Good", "A Night to Remember", "There It Is" and "Friends". The album of the same title Friends was also a big seller in the UK in 1982 crossing the genres of pop, disco and soul. The band's record sales in the UK increased when Daniel demonstrated his body-popping dancing skills on BBC Television's music programme, Top of the Pops, premiering the Moonwalk on television for the first time. Michael Jacksonwas a fan of the group, in particular, Daniel and his dance moves, after watching him on Soul Train. Jackson and Daniel met after, and Jackson took his then 12 year old sisterJanet to see Shalamar perform at Disneyland. Daniel co-choreographed Jackson's "Bad" and "Smooth Criminal" videos along with Jackson himself.
The group took a knock when Watley and Daniel separately left the band over conflicts within the group and other issues. Adding to the subsequent departure was Watley's increasing frustration with SOLAR Records and Dick Griffey shortly after the release of their next album, The Look, in 1983. Nonetheless, the album yielded a number of UK hit singles including "Disappearing Act", "Dead Giveaway" and "Over and Over". The album itself moved Shalamar into a more new wave/synthpop direction, with rock guitars to the fore. But The Look generally was not the success that Friends had been the previous year.
With a mid 1980s line-up change with Delisa Davis and Micki Free, Shalamar returned to the US Top 20 in 1984 with "Dancing in the Sheets" from the Footloose soundtrack, peaking at #17, and they won a Grammy for "Don't Get Stopped in Beverly Hills" from Beverly Hills Cop in 1984.
After Hewett left for a solo career in 1985 and was replaced by Sydney Justin, the band faded into temporary obscurity.The group recorded 1987's Circumstantial Evidence, which was a commercial disappointment, and faded away soon after the release of 1990s Wake Up.
Jody Watley launched her own influential solo career in 1987, winning the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Her hits include "Looking for a New Love," "Real Love," and "Friends" featuring Eric B & Rakim (noted to be the first Pop/R&B crossover single to include a rapper with the customized 16 bar verse, later becoming a popular formula in commercial music). Along with Janet Jackson and Madonna, Watley ranks as one of MTV Video Music Awardsmost-nominated female artists. Watley was also one of the few American singers to perform on the original Band Aid record recorded by mostly British singers in November 1984.
In 1996, Watley rejoined with Hewett and Daniel, plus LL Cool J, on Babyface's million-selling single "This Is for the Lover in You"; a cover of a hit single from Shalamar's 1980 album Three for Love. A music video was shot in which the three former members of Shalamar were digitally reunited on screen. Hewett, Watley, and Daniel subsequently joined Babyface and LL Cool J to perform the song on the UK's Top of the Pops in 1998. Billed as Shalamar, it marked the classic trio's first and only live performance together since 1983.
Shalamar reformed in 2005, for the UK television series, Hit Me, Baby, One More Time, with original member Daniel and Hewett, and with new member Carolyn Griffey (a long-time friend and fan of the original band, and daughter of Shalamar founder and Solar Record boss Dick Griffey). Carolyn's mother is Carrie Lucas for whom Watley sang backing vocals. They reached the grand final of Hit Me, Baby, One More Time in May 2005, ultimately losing out to Shakin' Stevens.
Shalamar was featured in a segment of TV One's series Unsung, in which Watley, Daniel and Hewett shared their stories about the creation of the group, the lack of payment and royalties from Solar Records, success, egos, and the breakup of the classic lineup. Dick Griffey, Micki Free, Delisa Davis, and Sydney Justin were also interviewed for the episode.
In October 2009, the reformed Shalamar of Hewett, Daniel and Griffey, performed as a part of "The Ultimate Boogie Nights Disco Concert Series", at IndigO2 within O2 Arena Entertainment Avenue in London. This prompted their return to the UK in April 2010 for a tour. Hewett, Griffey and Daniel, returned to IndigO2 in October 2011.