In 1975, when Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire recorded an album of duets
at a studio in Wembley, England, they chose to revisit an Irving Berlin song
which they first performed together at Paramount Pictures, Hollywood, in the 1946 film
“Blue Skies”. Thinking back over the years, many other memorable duet couplings come to
mind from “I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher in ’65, “You’re The One That I Want” by John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John in ‘78 and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand
& Neil Diamond that same year to “Endless Love” by Diana Ross & Lionel Richie in ’81,
“Islands In The Stream” by Kenny Rogers & Dolly Parton in ’83 and “Tainted Love” by
Soft Cell in ’81.
Here’s a random selection of other unforgettable duets that lit up the charts back in the day…
SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS)
(Annie Lennox/Dave Stewart)
Pro: David A. Stewart
Annie & Dave had earlier been members of a band called The Tourists.
SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS) was the title track from their
second Eurythmics album.
WAKE UP LITTLE SUSIE
(Felice & Boudleaux Bryant)
by The Everly Brothers
Pro: Archie Bleyer
Opening with irresistibly strident guitar chords, this was Don & Phil Everly’s
second charted single and their very first #1 Hot 100 smash. The Kentucky-born
brothers were highly influential partly because of their glorious country-rooted
AIN’T NO STOPPIN’ US NOW
(John Whitehead/Gene McFadden/Jerry Cohen)
by McFadden & Whitehead
Pro: John Whitehead, Gene McFadden & Jerry Cohen
Arr: Jack Faith
(Philadelphia Int’l: 1979)
The song was adopted by different Philadelphia baseball teams as their theme tune.
John & Gene co-wrote several other R&B hits including “Back Stabbers” by The O’Jays in ’72
and “Wake Up Everybody” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes in ’75.
HOLD ON! I’M COMIN’
(Isaac Hayes/David Porter)
by Sam & Dave
Pro: Jim Stewart
Revered soul singers Sam Moore & Dave Prater logged up an equally-successful
Stax single with another Hayes/Porter composition “Soul Man” in ’67.
(Earl Nelson/Bob Relf)
by Bob & Earl
Pro: Fred Smith, Bob Relf & Earl Nelson
Arr: Gene Page
Bob & Earl’s version was prominently featured on the soundtrack of Edgar Wright’s
2017 movie “Baby Driver”. The song’s most well-known cover was by The Rolling Stones
version which reached #5 on the Hot 100 in May ’86.
LOVE IS STRANGE
(Mickey Baker/Ellas McDaniels)
by Mickey & Sylvia
Pro: Bob Rolontz
Co-written by Bo Diddley and originally credited to Ethel Smith who was one of his wives.
Mickey & Sylvia were Mickey Baker & Sylvia Vanderpool. In ’73, using just her first name,
Sylvia topped the R&B chart with the song “Pillow Talk”. She also co-owned hip hop label
Sugar Hill Records with her husband Joe Robinson.
LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL
(Leonard Lee/Shirley Goodman)
by Shirley & Lee
Known as ‘The Sweethearts Of The Blues”, Shirley Goodman & Leonard Lee were from New Orleans. Years later in ’74, Shirley led the disco group Shirley And Company who lit up the
dance floors with their hit “Shame, Shame, Shame”.
(Booker T. Jones/William Bell)
by Judy Clay & William Bell
Pro: Booker T. Jones
Stax soul singer William Bell teamed up here with Judy Clay who had earlier duetted
with Billy Vera on their Atlantic single “Country Girl – City Man” in ’67.
DON’T GO BREAKING MY HEART
(Ann Orson/Carte Blanche)
by Elton John & Kiki Dee
Pro: Gus Dudgeon
Strings Arr: James Newton-Howard
Two years earlier, Kiki herself had enjoyed a Top 20 seller on Elton’s Rocket label with Bias Boshell’s composition “I’ve Got The Music In Me”. Her duet with Elton went all the way to #1
in the summer of ’76. Ann Orson & Carte Blanche were tongue-in-cheek pseudonyms used by
Elton and his regular co-writing partner, Bernie Taupin.
(Jan Berry/Brian Wilson)
by Jan & Dean
Pro: Jan Berry
Jan Berry & Dean Torrence rode the sixties surf craze with a string of chart singles
of which SURF CITY crested the Hot 100 in July ’63. Brian Wilson co-wrote the song
and provided harmony vocals.
I NEED YOUR LOVIN’
(Don Gardner/Bobby Robinson)
by Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford
A Bobby Robinson Prod.
With its bombastic opening ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa’ phrase,
I NEED YOUR LOVIN’ always immediately caught my attention. It was a one-hit wonder
for R&B singers Don Gardner & Dee Dee Ford on Bobby Robinson’s Fire label.
I’M YOUR PUPPET
(Spooner Oldham/Dan Penn)
by James & Bobby Purify
Pro: Papa Don Enterprises
Arr: Dan Penn & Don Schroeder
James Purify and Robert Lee Dickey were cousins, not brothers as their stage
name suggests. Alabama-based Spooner & Dan are longtime friends, songwriters
and musicians; they also wrote “It Tears Me Up” for Percy Sledge and “Sweet Inspiration”
for the Sweet Inspirations.
UP WHERE WE BELONG
(Jack Nitzsche/Will Jennings/Buffy Saint-Marie)
by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes
Pro: Stewart Levine
This was the chart-topping Love Theme from the Richard Gere/Debra Winger
hit movie “An Officer And A Gentleman”.
OVER THE MOUNTAIN, ACROSS THE SEA
by Johnnie & Joe
Johnnie Louise Richardson duetting with Joe Rivers on what became a Top 10 R&B
and Pop seller for Chess in mid-’57. The song returned to the Hot 100 in ’63 with a
version by Bobby Vinton.
I’M LEAVING IT UP TO YOU
(Dewey Terry/Don Harris)
by Dale & Grace
Pro: Sam Montel
West coast singers Don & Dewey cut the first version themselves in ’57 but the
song didn’t explode until this cover by Dale Houston & Grace Broussard on Sam Montel’s
small Baton Rouge label; it hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in November ’63. The song was successfully revived in ’74 by another male-female duo, Donny & Marie Osmond.
(Nickolas Ashford/Valerie Simpson)
by Ashford & Simpson
Pro: Nickolas Ashford & Valerie Simpson
Switching labels from Warner Bros. to Capitol in ’84, Nick & Val hit paydirt with
this pulsating #1 R&B smash. In the 1960’s, they wrote a string of huge hit songs
for various Motown artists. One of their best-remembered from that era is…
AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH
(Nickolas Ashford/Valerie Simpson)
by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
Pro: Harvey Fuqua & Johnny Bristol
In addition to his mountain of solo successes, Marvin Gaye cut some unforgettable
duets with Mary Wells, Kim Weston and with Diana Ross. He also performed with
Tammi Terrell striking hit parade magic with songs such as AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN
and other Ashford/Simpson compositions including “You’re All I Need To Get By”.
THE SOUND OF SILENCE
by Simon & Garfunkel
Pro: Tom Wilson
The first chart topping single of ’66. Sometimes incorrectly referred to as
THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE. Folk-rock stylists Simon & Garfunkel had started out
recording together as Tom & Jerry.
(Charlie Foxx/Inez Foxx)
by Inez & Charlie Foxx
Pro: Juggy Murray
Arr: Bert Keyes
Originally released crediting only Inez Foxx, the duet vocal of this brother and sister
also featured Charlie on guitar. Some years later, Inez did record solo including an album
on the R&B label Volt.
PANCHO AND LEFTY
(Townes Van Zandt)
by Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard
Pro: Chips Moman, Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard
Willie & Merle had previously enjoyed a Country hit with Merle’s “Reason To Quit”.
Townes Van Zandt was a Texas-born folk-based singer whose catalog of compositions
also includes “If I Needed You” which was a successful country duet by Emmylou Harris
& Don Williams.
WHAT’S YOUR NAME
by Don & Juan
An Embee Prod.
(Big Top: 1961)
A Top 10 Pop hit in early ’62. Embee Productions was owned by Irving Micanik
& Harry Balk who also produced early records by Del Shannon and
by Johnny & The Hurricanes.
WELL DID YOU EVAH?
by Bing Crosby & Frank Sinatra
MGM Studio Orchestra cond. Johnny Green
A swellegant, elegant song from the soundtrack of “High Society”.
Originally issued as the B-side of the million-selling ballad “True Love”
featuring Mr Crosby with Grace Kelly.
YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVIN’ FEELIN’
(Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil/Phil Spector)
by The Righteous Brothers
Pro: Phil Spector
Arr: Gene Page
Eng: Larry Levine
Singers Bill Medley & Bobby Hatfield were billed as the Righteous Brothers
even though they weren’t related. LOVIN’ FEELIN’ particularly highlighted Bill’s
rich bass baritone vocal. At the session, Spector was so convinced of the song’s hit
potential that when Bobby asked ‘What do I do while the big guy’s singing?’,
Phil replied ‘Go to the bank’!
A WORLD WITHOUT LOVE
(John Lennon/Paul McCartney)
by Peter & Gordon w/Geoff Love’s Music
Pro: Norman Newell
Peter Asher & Gordon Waller were school friends and Peter’s sister Jane Asher
was Paul McCartney’s then-girlfriend. A WORLD WITHOUT LOVE topped the Hot 100
here and one of their subsequent hits was the song “I Go To Pieces” written by Del Shannon.
I KNOW HIM SO WELL
(Benny Anderson/Tim Rice/Bjorn Ulvaeus)
by Elaine Paige & Barbara Dickson
Pro: Benny Anderson, Tim Rice & Bjorn Ulvaeus
Arr: Benny Anderson & Anders Eljas
(RCA Chess: 1984)
Charting at #1 in the UK in early ’85, this standout ballad with two women
singing observations about the same man comes from the stage musical “Chess”
created and written by Tim Rice with Benny Anderson & Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA.
Critically-acclaimed singer/actress Elaine Paige who had originated the role of Eva Peron
in the London production of “Evita” also starred in the west end production of “Chess”.
Talking of “Evita”, singer/actress Barbara Dickson had earlier charted with one of that
show’s memorable ballads “Another Suitcase In Another Hall”.
EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD
(Roland Orzabal/Ian Stanley/Chris Hughes)
by Tears For Fears
Pro: Chris Hughes (Mercury: 1985)
The first of two chart-topping singles (the other was “Shout”) recorded by
British duo Roland Orzabal & Curt Smith. They called themselves Tears For Fears
which they found in the book “Prisoners Of Pain” by American psychologist Arthur Janov.
DON’T KNOW MUCH
(Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil/Tom Snow)
by Linda Ronstadt feat. Aaron Neville
Pro: Peter Asher
This Grammy-winning performance & #2 Hit single had been preceded by Linda’s duet
with James Ingram on “Somewhere Out There” from the animated film ‘An American Tail’.
DON’T KNOW MUCH had briefly charted twice before by Bill Medley in ‘81and under
the title “All I Need To Know” by Bette Midler in ’83.
A ROCKIN’ GOOD WAY (TO MESS AROUND AND FALL IN LOVE)
(Brook Benton/Luchi DeJesus)
by Brook Benton & Dinah Washington
Pro: Clyde Otis/Orch Cond: Belford Hendricks
Brook & Dinah had previously charted with the song “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)”
and this track continues to underline Brook & Dinah’s dynamic vocal chemistry in the
recording studio. You better know it, baby!
As in all my postings, the recordings listed and referenced above
are in no way intended as definitive collections.
Please send any comments or suggestions to
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