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Carl Carlton

Detroit native Carl Carlton got his start in the record business through baseball. When a neighbor yelled down from an apartment window to some kids playing baseball in vacant lot to stop playing ball and to turn that radio off, they yelled back "that ain't no radio, that's Carl!" The neighbor ran down to see where this astonishing soulful voice was coming from. Later, he took Carlton to Lando Records where he began recording in the late '60s as Little Carl Carlton. His first single was "I Love True Love." Carlton had some previous experience from singing in church and being snuck into clubs to perform for tips by his older siblings. When a later single, "Competition Ain't Nothing," started to take off in the summer of 1968, the single was picked up by Don Robey's Back Beat Records. Carlton signed with the label and moved to Houston where the label was located. It was a big change for the youngster to go from Detroit's notorious Black Bottom neighborhood to waking to fresh country air and the gentle mooing of Jersey cows on Robey's spacious ranch. When he wasn't touring or flying around the country doing recording dates, he'd perform at Robey's club, the Duke Peacock, which was also the name of Robey's other label. During this time, Carlton worked with a then-struggling songwriting/production duo named Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, producer David Crawford (Candi Staton's "Young Hearts Run Free"), and producer/writer Bunny Sigler. Carlton scored some minor chart hits for Back Beat in the late '60s and early '70s, with "46 Drums - 1 Guitar," "Oh Mary How I Got Over," "I Can Feel It," and "Drop By My Place," which broke the R&B Top 20 and the pop Top 40. When Don Robey sold his Duke Peacock/Back Beat labels to ABC Records in 1972, a compilation album of Carlton's singles was released, You Can't Stop a Man in Love. Former Temptations David Ruffin was a friend of Carlton. After listening to one of Ruffin's albums, Carlton got excited about one song, "Everlasting Love." Carlton wasn't aware that the song was previously a Top Ten hit for Robert Knight in 1967. In spite of the song's previous success, the first Carl Carlton single on ABC was "I Wanna Be Your Main Squeeze" with a low-key version of "Everlasting Love" on the flip. After given a more disco-friendly arrangement, "Everlasting Love," produced by Nashville's Papa Don Schroder (Bobby & James Purify's "I'm Your Puppet"), garnered Carlton his first Top Ten pop hit in 1974, peaking at number six and going to number 11 R&B. An album, Everlasting Love, produced by Bob Monaco (Rufus, Three Dog Night), was released and included two other singles, "Morning Noon and Night" and a cover of Rufus' "Smokin' Room," which gave Carlton his second pop hit. 1975 saw Carlton travelling to Philadelphia to work with producer/songwritwer Bunny Sigler. Though the album credits the backing musicians as MFSB, the core rhythm section is Instant Funk, which was a part of MFSB and scored a million-seller four years later with "I Got My Mind Made Up." The resultant album, I Wanna Be With You, is generally regarded as Carlton's best album. Carlton's vocals are much more relaxed and supple than on the Everlasting Love album. Despite good reviews in Right On magazine and the release of three singles, "Ain't Been No One Before You" (released January 1976), "Ain't Gonna Tell Nobody (About You) (charted the summer of 1976), and "Live for Today, Not for Tomorrow" (released late winter 1976), the album weakly charted. Some believe that it had to do with the royalty dispute that Carlton was involved in with ABC at the time. For a year and a half, Carlton had to wait until his contract with ABC lapsed until he could do anymore recording. He resurfaced in late 1977 with a Mercury single, "You You," a lovely lush ballad produced by the Dramatics' L.J. Reynolds along with the group's musical director John Brinson. On the flip was a funky blues number called "Something's Wrong." There were two other tracks recorded, but they were never released. With a lot of time on his hands, Carlton got into fitness. Weightlifting and jogging appealed to him and he found a workout partner in boxer Thomas "Hitman" Hearns. Carlton continued to perform around Detroit. Many people in the music business promised to work with Carlton, but the only one to come through was veteran soul singer Leon Haywood. He flew Carlton to California and worked with him in his recording studio. Getting him a singles deal with the label that he was signed to, 20th Century, Haywood produced a cover of his own "This Feeling's Rated Xtra" with a James Ingram tune, "Fighting in ihe Name of Love" on the B-side. It charted briefly, doing well enough for 20th Century to release the next single, "She's a Bad Mama Jama." "She's a Bad Mama Jama" earned Carlton a gold record in 1981, staying at number two for eight weeks straight, kept out of the number one spot by Diana Ross and Lionel Richie's "Endless Love." An album, Carl Carlton, was released with a front cover of a shirtless Carlton showing off his chiseled physique. The album went gold also. Such success afforded Carlton the opportunity to appear on such top-rated TV shows as Solid Gold, Soul Train, and American Bandstand and to tour major venues doing some dates with Rick James. The next single was "I Think It's Gonna Be Alright," a gentle acoustic guitar-laced ballad that briefly charted. Various rappers have rapped over "She's a Bad Mama Jama" in later years. His next album was The Bad CC (RCA), which included a catchy synth-heavy cover of the Four Tops' "Baby I Need Your Loving." Produced by David Rubinson and Friends, it features one of the last performances by Sylvester sideman/synth wizard Patrick Cowley. The single did good in the U.S. and was a Top Ten hit in Australia. "Everyone Can Be a Star" was the flip side of "...Loving." It was co-written by Carlton and Gavin Christopher and may be Carlton's most autobiographical song. 1986 saw the release of Carlton's sixth album, Private Property (Casablanca). It is safe to say that Carlton wanted and needed a hit. So one can probably excuse the title track and first single for being a "Mama Jama" clone. It did the trick, landing in the upper half of the R&B charts. The same can be said for the follow-up, "Slipped, Tripped and Fall in Love." But the album shouldn't be overlooked because of this. It's one of the last albums produced by Memphis hitmaker Allen Jones with able backing from his main band, the Barkays. There's a sweet cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me." Sam Dees produces the unique "Mama's Boy," and his heart-tugging ballad "Never Got Over You" has to be one of the best things Carlton has ever recorded. Dropped from the Casablanca roster, Carlton started working with Leon Haywood again in 1994, releasing a single, "Rock N Roll" b/w "Main Event.."Give Carlton self-admitted fault of "going for the cash" and signing bad contracts, the lyrics of "Main Event" seem appropriate: "Obstacles have come at me/although somehow I've overcome/I can see the prize just waiting there/so through the maze of life I run I run/I fight each battle round by round/maintain my quest for higher ground." An album, Main Event, was released later that year. ~ Ed Hogan, Rovi
full bio


Love this song!
Luv THIS SONG. .....:*
Brings me back to childhood, great memories
When I read Carl Carlton' s story, I was knocked out! I had no idea he was from Detroit, where some of family resides. Carl has a dynamic voice!
Carl sang at my brother in laws funeral thx
I loved disco...It's called different things these days.....but disco never died. It gets reivented and called whatever type of music is popular.. I'm all over the place on the music I love, but one thing is for sure.....RAP IS CRAP!
Rollerskatin g music at it's best !!
Back when singing was real singing!! You could just dance your "but" off, are sit and bob your head all night.:-)
And every time I hear this song it makes me wish I got a chance to go down the Soul Train line! Seriously ppl am I the ONLY one! Lol :-)
And my favorite part of the song is the Nana part! WHOO-HOO! Lol
I LOVE singing this song, has that old soul feel every time I sing it! And my favorite line is: "Viewin' her anatomy."
Another copycat Stevie Wonder Sound
It's a shame the Foxy Brown/Dru Hill had to do this awesome song a disservice by remaking it somewhat for the How To Be A Player Soundtrack. To this day this is the only version that I'm willing to acknowledge I love his cover of the song Everlasting Love too, just awesome music:-)

One of the greatest love songs of all time. Back in the day baby
@brgarcia.ho u s t o n : really?? Is that true??
that's it there Baby
My uncle Leon Haywood wrote that song she's a bad mama, jama for Carl Carlton. At lest now he admitted leaving for the money when my uncle went out on the lim for him.
heyyyyyyyyyy y y y
annieestudio s
Me likey!
This guy is awesome
does anyone listen to music anymore!! shut up and enjoy !! tired of listening to a bunch of negative!!
sexy mama!!!
Opening song for my fave movie Two Can Play That Game with Vivica F.
and Morris C.
I can't play this while I'm driving...LO L . . . w i l l have to pull over, get out & start dancing..LOL
This is true. Please post this to 5 songs in 143 minutes or you will die in 2 days. U will be kissed by your lover on the nearest Friday. When finished press F6 her name will come up on caps
Reminds ne of Kool n Gang
8th grade… California curl ROCKIN' IT!!!
dis my s**t
You go Carl...I ain't madatcha man
this is my jam i love this song
never forget seeing him in concert. the main attraction to others was Rick james, but to me it was to see that Bad Mama Jama man himself - carl carlton loved him
Nice Song Carl Carlton keep up the good work and you are blessed!I love the way they play this song on the radio I just love hearing your voice and I love the way you dress but you dont dress like these other rappers because they just dont care how they look You are a vey good singer.
My son's favorite song when he was 2 years old.
Great song and classic for sure....
She's a bad Mama Jama. Love that classic. Follow me on twitter - @Courage2Bel i e v e
isn't Carl Carlton the one that originally sang Kung Fu Fighting?
I'm going to go listen to Delilah on STAR 104.5 fm and then after that I will listen to Art Laboe on HOT 92.3 fm at 9pm PST and you can hear this anywhere in the US Please come and listen with me and make some dedication on both stations. Delilah starts at 7pm CST and you can hear her all over the US as well.
I can remember this playing n my house when I was younger
like thiss, has a touch of stevie wonder about it?
Classic! Great song! We need more like this for sure
This is a classic. This song never gets old.
Old school music just makes you smile, laugh and sing.
NetteNetteTo n i B r o o k s same here, i thought it was Stevie Wonder too.
I sure didn't know this was Carl Carlton singing this song...I have always thought it was someone totally different. I think I thought it was Stevie Wonder!?
Believe he started out as Little Carl Carlton. I listened to him on WKNR in Detroit in the 60's.
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