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This was written by Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach, who were married at the time. They promised the song to Patti LaBelle, but LaBelle's producer Richard Perry was less than impressed, and agreed to let Sager and Bacharach produce it instead. They cut their own backing track, which Patti LaBelle recorded on her own (pun unintended) but it wasn't until Michael McDonald was persuaded to contribute that the song came together.
The duo recorded their parts separately. Patti LaBelle filmed the video in New York and recorded her part in Philadelphia. Michael McDonald did both in LA.
Patti LaBelle was formerly in the R&B vocal group Labelle who scored an American #1 in 1975 with "Lady Marmalade
." McDonald was part of the successful '70s west coast rock group The Doobie Brothers, whose biggest hit was the #1 smash "What A Fool Believes."
Labelle told NME in 1986: "The success of 'On My Own' came as a shock. I don't record for commercial value. With 'On My Own' I went into the Studio thinking, I'm gonna record something I love. Usually if I love it, it bubbles under. And I was surprised it made a hit."
1986 was a big year for Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach. They had another #1 hit earlier in the year with "That's What Friends Are For
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A popular contemporary folk singer, Williams still remembers the sticky note that changed her life in college.