This is an American group who were rather influential and successful in the soul and disco genres, and their singles have been much covered and sampled. It is something to realise what a remarkable range of acts have had hits with covers of their most famous songs, which is proof of how they have endured. Rose Royce formed in Los Angeles in the early-70s, but their most successful line-up had been established by the mid-70s, when Gwen Dickey became their lead singer.
In December 1976, their debut hit “Car Wash” was released, which was also on the soundtrack to the film of the same name. This made the Top Ten in the UK, and was also their only chart-topper in America, winning them a Grammy Award too. I’m sure that when Mike Mason, who really loves his music, was on Bid TV, he said that “Car Wash” was his favourite song, and he’d start to sing this rather frequently, whilst having a boogie.
But Rose Royce’s biggest hits in the UK were in 1978, when “Wishing On A Star” and “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” both did well. And in November 1979 “Is It Love You’re After” made the Top 20. In 1980, Gwen left, and they would have no further Top Ten hit singles in the UK. But in September 1984, “Magic Touch” was released. Although this didn’t make the Top 40, this has to be my favourite single of theirs (not to be confused with “Magic Touch” by Loose Ends, a hit in 1985, which is also a great song).
“Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” was covered by Madonna (and not released as a single in the UK, but is on the “Like A Virgin” album), and, in 1985, Jimmy Nail (his first Top Ten hit single). In 1988, “Is It Love You’re After” was sampled on S-Express’s chart-topping “Theme From S-Express”, which helped to bring in the House era. And in June 1988, “Car Wash” and “Is It Love You’re After” were re-released together, and this made the Top 20.
The covers kept coming. In 1989, Fresh 4 Featuring Lizz-E made the Top Ten with their version of “Wishing On A Star”. And then in January 1990, “Car Wash” was a hit again, this time credited only to Gwen Dickey. Also in 1990, “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” was a hit for Double Trouble. “Wishing On A Star” was a hit three more times in the 90s, for Cover Girls in 1992, 88.3 Featuring Lisa May in 1995, and Jay-Z Featuring Gwen Dickey in 1998.
Now I do remember hearing this version on the radio, although I don’t know if Gwen re-recorded her vocals for this, or if they were sampled from the original, although Jay-Z himself barely seemed to feature, and at least one host wondered where he was on this. And then in October 1998, “Car Wash” made the Top 20 for a third time (and in a third different decade), this time credited to Rose Royce Featuring Gwen Dickey!
Into the 2000s, “Wishing On A Star” was a hit for Paul Weller in 2004, as was “Car Wash” by Christina Aguilera Featuring Missy Elliott. I’m sure that Mike was really pleased. Finally, in 2011, “Wishing On A Star” was a hit for a seventh different act, and was the first Rose Royce cover to top the chart in the UK (unless you count “Theme From S-Express”). Well done The X Factor Finalists Featuring JLS And One Direction. I do feel that none of the covers are superior to the originals though.