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People Got to Be Free by The Rascals
Album: Freedom SuiteReleased: 1969Charted:
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)