In 1977, the Commodores were in the studio recording when there was a problem with the equipment. While the tapes were being repaired and replaced, the group took a break, and what happened next gave us one of the most memorable riffs & a song you just can’t help but get up & dance to!
Ronald LaPread, the group’s bass player, began jamming. Bit by bit the rest of the band joined in until they came up with a track and bass line. Upon returning, James Carmichael, the Commodores’ producer, heard and recognized that this could be a song worth recording. He asked everyone to see if they could use the riff to come up with a song. Taking the tapes home, William King played them for his wife, Shirley Hanna-King. While he slept she was inspired to write lyrics for the riff.
The following day King sang the lyrics to “Brick House” to the band, allowing them to think he had written it. They loved it and decided that drummer Walter “Clyde” Orange had the funky voice to sing lead vocals, (as opposed to Lionel Richie, who usually sang lead), and the song went on the new album.
It took several years before the other members of the group discovered that it was actually Shirley Hanna-King who had written the lyrics, and although she was not originally credited, the band has publicly acknowledged her as the song’s writer