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This was written in reaction to the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. The song obtained a double meaning when Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated before the single was released.
Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records briefly blocked the single's release as he thought the Rascals' career would be hurt by a political record. He was partly right: although "People Got to Be Free" was the group's biggest hit (#1 for five weeks), it was also their last Top Ten single.
This was the third #1 hit for the group (after "Good Lovin'" and "Groovin'"), but the first under their original name. In 1966-67 all their singles were credited to the "Young Rascals," a name imposed upon them by Atlantic Records to avoid confusion with the Harmonica Rascals.
Their followup single, the #24 "A Ray of Hope," was written for the Kennedy family after RFK's death and prompted a thank-you letter from the fallen senator's little brother, Ted. (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL, for all above)
Mark Arm of Mudhoney
When he was asked to write a song for the Singles
soundtrack, Mark thought the Seattle grunge scene was already overblown, so that's what he wrote about.
Brad Smith of Blind Melon
The Blind Melon bassist/songwriter tells the story of "No Rain," which he wrote before the band was formed.
You may not recognize his name, but you will certainly recognize Peter Lord's songs. He wrote the bevy of hits from Paula Abdul's second album, Spellbound
, plus a collection of other classics for the likes of Aftershock, Ali and Goodfellaz.
The Real Nick Drake
The head of Drake's estate shares his insights on the late folk singer's life and music.