Sunday, June 23, 2013

6 Other Second Fiddles Who Deserved More Leads

Yesterday's thoughts on Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé (and I forgot to mention prematurely ousted Destiny's Child LeToya Luckett, who beat Kelly to No. 1 on the album chart, a place Kelly still hasn't been, with 2006's LeToya) got me contemplating other talented wingwomen and wingmen who spent their careers crouching in the shadow of a main attraction....

Jermaine Jackson Although he scored two solo Top 10 hits on Billboard's Hot 100 (with 1973's "Daddy's Home" and 1979's Stevie Wonder-penned-and-produced "Let's Get Serious," both of which went to No. 9), seven Top 40 singles (including "Let Me Tickle Your Fancy," his 1982 No. 18 collaboration with Devo), and two R&B No. 1s, Michael's big brother remains arguably pop's second banana most deserving of more love.

Jane Wiedlin Every time I hear her lone solo success ("Rush Hour," which peaked at No. 9 in 1988), I imagine the Go-Go's rhythm guitarist (who co-wrote the all-female band's greatest -- as in best -- hit "Our Lips Are Sealed") somewhere, staring at a voodoo doll of Belinda Carlisle, shouting, "Belinda! Belinda! Belinda! Why not me, Lord?!"

Lisa Fischer After scoring a No. 11 pop and No. 1 R&B hit her first time at bat with "How Can I Ease the Pain" in 1991 (from the album So Intense) and winning that year's Best Female R&B Performance Grammy for her considerable effort (tying with Patti LaBelle, in a memorable '90s Grammy moment), I was sure that Luther Vandross's longtime backup vocalist -- and The Rolling Stones' current one (see left, from this month) -- would go on to become the Janie Fricke of R&B and pop. (For those unversed in the history of country, Fricke went from backup singer and wingwoman for Charlie Rich, Johnny Duncan and Moe Bandy, among others, in the '70s to being one of the biggest female country stars of the early '80s.) Instead, Fischer never released another album.

Martha Wash She was the uncredited voice -- on record and in videos -- behind early '90s hits by Black Box ("Everybody Everybody," "I Don't Know Anybody Else," "Strike It Up" and "Fantasy") and C+C Music Factory (including the chart-topping "Gonna Make You Sweat") and also one-half (the still-living half) of The Weather Girls (formerly Two Tons O' Fun, who recorded the iconic 1982 gay club classic "It's Raining Men," a massive pop hit everywhere in the English-speaking world but, of course, the U.S., where it only sprinkled up to No. 46 on the Hot 100). Alas, to this day in mainstream circles, the ton o' fun who is arguably pop and R&B's greatest vocalist post-Aretha Franklin remains relatively unknown by her own name.

Darlene Love A major '60s backup and lead vocalist (the latter most notably on hits by The Crystals, including the 1962 No. 1 "He's A Rebel"), a TV and Broadway actress, and a 2011 inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Love, like Wash, has never gotten any chart love under her own name.

JC Chasez The male Kelly Rowland to 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake, he had the looks and the talent (arguably more of both than JT) and occasionally the collaborators (including Basement Jaxx, on whose 2003 Kish Kash track "Plug It In" Chasez sang lead), but not the material or the charisma to go as far.

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