Imagine spending $15 to make a product and then, selling a million of them. If you’re Gary Dahl, creator of the Pet Rock, you have a n inkling of what I’m talking about. But a year before that sedentary joke gift, Harry Wayne Casey & Richard Finch spent exactly that on a ‘product’ that did everything but make you stay in one place. It ended up selling over 10 million records worldwide and enabled the duo to make more ‘widgets’ such as Get Down Tonight, I’m Your Boogie Man as well as others as KC & the Sunshine Band. But the lucky benefactor to two enthusiastic studio nerds trying to make a buck and who ended up with a musical career over it was Mr. George McCrae. Luck and timing. Luck and timing.
You see, Casey & Finch had just written a song and one night in the recording studio where they worked and dabbled they quickly recorded the tune. The two of them played all the instruments, but were missing the guitar. That’s when they hired Jerome Smith to come in a play. That’s also where the $15 was spent on making this track. The next day the played the instrumental demo for TK Records President, Henry Stone. He suggested a lady named Gwen McCrae sing on it, since women singers were hot at the time. But guess who strolled in the door at the right time, Gwen’s husband, George.
Now George had tried his hand in the music business, but had given up and decided to, ironically, help further Gwen’s career as her manager. He was even thinking about going to back to school to be a cop when one day he stopped the TK studios. He took 2 takes singing over the track and since it was a demo, he didn’t think much of it. But Henry Stone knew he had a hit on his hands. So he released the song as is, and by July of 1974, Rock Your Baby had spent 2 weeks at the top of the chart as well as beginning the crossover of disco to the pop charts.
And George’s life changed forever. The song originally intended for Gwen, inspired a response entitled, rocking Chair, which hit the Top 10 in 1975. But a multi-hit household was too much for the McCraes and they split in 1976.
Personally I think the guitar playing makes this song. It’s the best $15 those guys ever spent. And you can hear Jerome’s playing on all the KC hits as well Jimmy Bo Horne, Betty Wright and other TK artists. It’s amazing how in just a few short we from romantic R&B club hits like this to More More More & In The Bush.