Album:Pure Disco 2
Van McCoy was already a successful writer, producer and arranger when he topped the charts with The Hustle in 1975. Today it's one of the most loved or hated songs of the disco era. There were other instrumentals with a beat that were hits at the time. And of course the song created a dance craze. Van McCoy was born Jan. 6, 1940 in Washington, DC. He grew up singing and playing piano in church. He formed the doo wop group The Starlighters with his brother Norman McCoy Jr. They released a few singles but split up after graduating from high school. After studying psychology at Howard University for two years, McCoy moved to Philadelphia to start his own record company. His 1959 single Hey Mr. DJ got him a staff writer job at Scepter Records. He also owned labels like Vando, Share and Maxx. McCoy's big break was working for legendary producers Jerry Lieber & Mike Stoller which resulted in a songwriting and production deal at Columbia Records. He recorded a solo album in 1966. McCoy's biggest hit at the time was the Barbara Lewis hit Baby, I'm Yours. He also produced several hits for The Stylistics with partner Charles Kipps. McCoy released an album in 1972 and toured with his orchestra The Soul City Symphony and the female backup group Faith, Hope and Charity. In 1975, McCoy signed with Avco Records which was recently purchased by the production team of Hugo & Luigi. His 1975 album Disco Baby went nowhere at first. But the third single The Hustle blew up and was a worldwide chart topper. I think the song is similar to the kind of music Barry White was recording at the time. Maybe folks thought White recorded The Hustle. McCoy and Kipps were at a New York club watching patrons dance The Hustle. He decided to record a song about it. Philip Bodner played the piccolo and other musicians who played on the record were bassist Gordon Edwards, drummer Steve Gadd, keyboardist Richard Tee and guitarists Eric Gale and John Tropea. Though some of McCoy's other recordings were minor hits, most will only remember The Hustle and you can get it on this Universal various artists CD. McCoy went on to produce David Ruffin, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Melba Moore and Faith, Hope and Charity. Sadly, Van McCoy died of a heart attack on July 6, 1979 at age 39. Here's the video for The Hustle by Van McCoy.