Classics: Johnny Bristol – Hang On In There Baby (MGM Records)
‘Hang On In There Baby’ is most probably the most famous song by the likes of Johnny Bristol. Highlighting his debut as a recording artist on MGM Records in the best way one could think of. And, by that, his obvious know how after having written and produced so many tracks for other artists on Motown.
As a matter of fact, the H.B. Barnum arranged ‘Hang On In There Baby’ stands as his biggest classic ever. Somehow reminding of Barry White‘s approach. An impression which will be even stronger 6 years after as a matter of fact. This, on the groovy ‘Love No Longer Has A Hold On Me’.
A native of Morganton, NC, Johnny Bristol starting his recording career back in the late 50’s. This while duetting along with Jackey Beavers (whom he met while in the US Air Force) under the Johnny & Jackey guise. Together, they released 4 singles including the original version of ‘Someday We’ll Be Together’. Diana Ross & The Supremes eventually covering it back in 1969 with Bristol in charge of the production.
Strange as to how, despite a velvet baritone voice, Bristol made more his patth as a songwriter / producer, eventually teamin’ up with Harvey Fuqua. And working with countless luminaries during his years at Motown. From Smokey Robinson to Gladys Knight & The Pips. But also Edwin Starr, Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell. Not to mention Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder among others.
Bristol finally left Motown to sign as a solo artist with MGM in 1974. There he scored immediately with the memorable ‘Hang On There Baby’. With the latter pretty much overshadowing his future releases for the label. Meanwhile ‘Love Me For A Reason’ which he’d released as a part of his debut-album soon after became a hit for labelmates The Osmonds.
He eventually came back under the spotlights in 1981 with his ‘Free To Be Me’ debut-album for Handshake Records. The latter featuring ‘Take Me Down’ which make quite some noise on the NYC Disco scene. But also the Barry White-ish ‘Love No Longer Has A Hold On Me’ which got him back to the attention of the UK Soul/Dance audiences.
He progresively disappeared from the radar from then, despite a couple of extra releases around the end of the 80’s.
Johnny Bristol sadly died in his Brighton Township, MI home of natural causes on Mar. 21, 2004, aged 65.