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Midnight Star

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Biography

The synth-funk unit Midnight Star scored several times on the charts during the mid-'80s, led by their double-platinum album No Parking on the Dance Floor in 1983. Just one of the successful acts on Solar Records (also including Shalamar, Lakeside, and the Whispers), the group was formed in 1976 at Kentucky State University by the Calloway brothers, trumpeter Reginald, and trombone player Vincent, with vocalist Belinda Lipscomb. After signing with RCA near the turn of the decade, Midnight Star recorded their first album in 1980, The Beginning, with a conglomeration of studio players and producers. After moving to the Solar label by 1982, the group released Victory and then added a full band: guitarist Melvin Gentry, bassist Kenneth Gant, drummer Bobby Lovelace, and keyboard player Bo Watson. Though the Calloways' production skills -- later used to full effect on tracks by Natalie Cole, Gladys Knight, and Teddy Pendergrass -- had pushed Midnight Star into the R&B charts during 1981-1982, with singles like "Hot Spot" and "I've Been Watching You," the group was unprepared for the success of the first single from their third proper album, No Parking on the Dance Floor. "Freak-a-Zoid" hit number two on the R&B charts in mid-1983, and though it failed to make the pop Top 40, it pushed the LP over the platinum mark. "Operator," the first single from their next album, Planetary Invasion, became their highest-charting single, making number 18 on the pop charts. By 1986, Headlines had become Midnight Star's third album to at least sell gold, but it proved their last; both Reginald and Vincent left the group to form Calloway in 1988. (Incidentally, the Calloways had introduced future legend Babyface to Solar executives for his first job, and produced Babyface's group the Deele). Without Reginald and Vincent Calloway to lead the way, Midnight Star fell fast and far. A 1988 self-titled album flopped, and 1990's Work It Out proved to be their last until 2002's 15th Avenue. Since then, the members continued outside collaborations, but they also came together for frequent touring. As late as 2007, the group's lineup featured Lipscomb, Gentry, Watson, Lovelace, and Gant. As Calloway, the Calloways found success with their first single, 1989's "I Wanna Be Rich," which hit number two on the pop charts. The track was their only major hit, followed by "Sir Lancelot" and the title track from their 1990 debut album, All the Way. Calloway returned two years later with Let's Get Smooth, but the album proved their last. The brothers continued working, with Pieces of a Dream and Bootsy Collins, among others. ~ John Bush
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