The Commodores was a highly successful soul/funk band in the 1970s. They met as freshmen at Tuskegee Institute, and signed to Motown having first caught the public eye supporting The Jackson Five on tour. Now they are perhaps best known for the ballad 'Easy', which was not really representative of their output. More usually, they recorded funky, driven dance floor hits including 'Brick House', 'Fancy Dancer', and 'Slippery when wet', amongst others. 'Machine Gun', the instrumental title track from their debut album, has become a staple at American sporting events, and has been featured in many films, including Boogie Nights.
The Commodores' original lineup was: Lionel Richie (sax), Thomas McClary (guitar), Milan Williams (keyboards), William King (trumpet), Ronald LaPread (bass) and Walter Orange (drums). Band members typically traded lead vocal duties. After Lionel Richie left the band, former Heatwave singer J.D. Nicholas assumed his place in the group.
The band jumpstarted careers of Lionel Richie and Walter Orange. When Lionel Richie left the band in 1982, it has never recovered its early shine. It has also gradually abandoned funky roots to move into the more commercial disco arena.
They were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.
The group left Motown in 1986 for Polydor, and released several additional albums, primarily compilations.
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