Flashback Friday – Gwen Guthrie

Gwen Guthrie
“Ain’t nothin’ goin’ on but the rent.
You’ve got to have a J-O-B, if you wanna be with me.
No romance without finance. I said, no romance without finance.”
-Gwen Guthrie

A few years before she topped the charts in 1986 with the soulful anthem “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on But the Rent“, I was enjoying Gwen Guthrie for her club hits “It Should Have Been You“, “Padlock“, “Peanut Butter” and the ballad “You’ve Touched My Life.” She also wrote and recorded “God Don’t Like Ugly” which was also recorded by Roberta Flack. There is a good Gwen Guthrie Ultimate Collection album which features several hit songs from his very gifted woman. Her individual albums are not easy to find but I did pickup her “Hot Times” album recently.

All Music Guide provides this biography of her life and music:

Gwen Guthrie is best known for her number one R&B single “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on But the Rent,” a popular self-written bouncer. A prolific songwriter and a good pianist, she also penned “Supernatural Thing” for Ben E. King and “This Time I’ll Be Sweeter” for Martha Reeves, which was later popularized by Angela Bofill and Issac Hayes. In all, Guthrie logged approximately 50 compositions, and many thought Guthrie and songwriting partner Patrick Grant had the potential to become another Ashford & Simpson.

Born in Okemah, OK, in 1950, but raised in Newark, NJ, Guthrie started singing in high school with a female quartet called the Ebonettes. (Another of its members, Brenda White King, pursued music like Guthrie and became an in-demand session singer.) Guthrie sang lead for a group (East Coast Band) formed by Larry Blackmon (later of Cameo) in New York, but got her big break when she was asked to do a background session for Aretha Franklin, the number one R&B hit “I’m in Love,” from 1974. Six months later, Guthrie signed as a staff writer with Bert Coteaux Productions and co-wrote “Love Don’t Go Through No Changes,” the first hit for Sister Sledge, and many others with Grant. The collaboration didn’t last long, however.

Guthrie continued to write with a variety of partners, and supplied backing vocals to many recording sessions. Working with Peter Tosh in the late ’70s, Guthrie befriended reggae stars Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare, who invited her to Nassau to record vocals for an album they were producing. Hearing her unique voice in the studio, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell inked her to a contract, and the Dunbar/Shakespeare project, assisted by David Conley of Surface, became her first solo release, a self-titled LP. She did score a dancefloor hit in the ’80s in the UK with “It Should Have Been You,” a ballad from the first album. Her second LP, Portrait, released in 1983, followed the same formula: simplistic dance tracks and trite grooves. Album number three, Good to Go Lover, dropped in 1986, and spawned her chart-topper “Ain’t Nothin’ Goin’ on but the Rent,” plus the torching ballad “You Touched My Life.” On Lifeline (1988), Guthrie was more involved in the writing and production. Hot Times was Guthrie’s final LP release, hitting the streets in 1990. Like the previous LP, she wrote nearly everything, except for a moving remake of Stephanie Mills’ Never Knew Love Like This Before.” Guthrie also had two LP releases: Just for You (1985) and Ticket to Ride (1988) on Fourth & Broadway Records. Guthrie died on February 4, 1999, of uterine cancer in Orange, NJ.”

Here is a comprehensive listing of her extensive discography.

Today’s Flashback Friday is dedicated to the memory of my cousin, Kevin.

7 Responses to “Flashback Friday – Gwen Guthrie”

  1. Antonio G says:

    Yes! I’ll have to use that line soon!

  2. Padlock was the cut.

  3. Gee says:

    Ooh strange, the new, little cardio hip-hop guy used this song this a.m. I wasn’t in his class but I gcould hear it from my machine.
    I truly believe in that almighty line. It’s like, “what can you bring to the table (or the floor or the couch…etc) LOL

  4. Michael says:

    Where is Patrick Grant today?

  5. Nash says:

    You made mention of singer Gwen Guthrie and her musical connections to Ben E.King, Sly Dunbar and Larry Blackmon of Cameo. What’s the link?? well all three men are featured in an exhibition of black music legends by Pogus Caesar, he’s a famous black British photographer who’s snapped all kinds of people.

  6. Aaron Llove says:

    Pogus Caesar’s photos of Cameo, Sly Dunbar and Larry Blackmon are part of a bigger show of black performers, exhibit named =muzik kindasweet.=. more info on BBC website.

  7. Skathia says:

    after reading about pogus caesar on this blogs i found interesting articles on him called muzik kinda sweet, featured in outsideleft magazine from los angeles.

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