In January 1977 Rose Royce took their debut single Car Wash, the theme from the blaxploitation movie of the same name, to #1 on the pop chart for one week. The single was written and produced by Motown’s legendary Norman Whitfield, who took Rose Royce with him when he jumped ship for MCA Records. Rose Royce scored three more Top 40 singles: I Wanna Get Next To You (#10 and also from Car Wash), 1977’s Do Your Dance (#39 and a total rip off of Car Wash), and 1978’s Love Don’t Live Here Anymore (#32). The group continues to be popular in the UK, where they have scored nine Top 40 hits, including the #18 remake titled Car Wash ’98.
TRIVIA: Rose Royce covers abound. The Cover Girls hit #9 in 1992 with Wishing On A Star, which was also covered by Teena Marie, Paul Weller, and Beyonce. In 1996 Madonna had small success with Love Don’t Live Here Anymore (#78), which was also covered by Faith Evans, Joe Cocker, and Patti Labelle. My favorite Rose Royce track, the minor hit I’m Going Down (#70), was covered by Mary J. Blige, reaching #14 in 1995. Christina Aguilera and Missy Elliot’s cover of Car Wash reached #63 in 2004.
RELATED: Antonio “Huggy Bear’ Fargas’ gay character in Car Wash was one of the first loud and proud queens I’d ever seen in a movie. “Honey, I’m more man than you’ll ever be and more woman than you’ll ever get!” Suh-NAP.
UPDATE: World famous and legendary DJ Jerry Bonham points out that S’Express’ monster 1988 hit, Theme From S’Express, is mostly based on a lengthy sample of Rose Royce’s 1978 song, Is It Love You’re After.