Popup: George McCrae
George McCrae was the second of nine children, born in West Palm Beach, Florida. He formed his own singing group, the Jivin’ Jets, before joining the United States Navy in 1963. Four years later, he reformed the group, with his wife Gwen joining the line-up, but soon afterwards they decided to work as a duo, recording for Henry Stone’s Alston record label. Gwen then won a solo contract, with George acting as her manager as well as doing some singing on sessions and in clubs in Palm Beach.
He was about to return to college to study law enforcement, when Richard Finch and Harry Wayne Casey of KC and the Sunshine Band invited him to sing the lyrics for a song that they had recorded for the band, but could not reach the high notes that were required for the song. The original intention was that Gwen, his wife, should record it, but she was late for the session and George recorded alone. It suited his high-pitched voice to the extent that the song, “Rock Your Baby”, became one of the first hits of the disco era in 1974, selling an estimated eleven million copies worldwide, topping thecharts in the U.S., UK. The song was so successful that Rolling Stone magazine voted it the No. 1 song of the year in 1974. McCrae received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male R&B Vocalist the following year.
Two further single releases, “I Can’t Leave You Alone” and “It’s Been So Long” also reached the UK Singles Chart Top 10. He recorded several further albums for TK, including George McCrae (1975) and Diamond Touch (1976), and also continued to record with, and manage, his wife until their divorce in 1976. While he continued to record albums includingWe Did It! and his second self-titled album George McCrae (both 1978), his commercial popularity slipped as the decade progressed.He remarried, moved to Canada, and entered a period of semi-retirement, leaving TK at the end of the 1970s.
He returned with the album One Step Closer to Love in 1984, the title track from which entered the charts in Britain, Canada and Holland. He moved to the villageMunstergeleen in The Netherlands and remarried again in the late 1980s. His later albums found some success in Europe, and he continued to perform regularly there. By the 2000s, he shared his time between homes in Florida, Aruba and the Netherlands.