One of the most commercially successful funk groups of the '70s, the multi-racial Rufus are today best remembered for launching the career of soul diva Chaka Khan, whose fiery lead vocals were easily the band's focal point. Powered by Khan -- who was eventually billed in addition to the group -- and an unerring sense of groove, Rufus scored an impressive string of hit singles on both the pop and R&B charts, which lasted through the '70s and up to Khan's official departure in 1983.
Rufus grew out of the Chicago band the American Breed, which had a hit in 1968 with the oldies-radio staple "Bend Me, Shape Me." Guitarist Al Ciner, bassist Chuck Colbert, drummer Lee Graziano, and keyboardist Kevin Murphy had all played in the band at one time or another before forming a new group, originally called Smoke, with vocalists Paulette McWilliams and James Stella. Stella was quickly replaced by lead vocalist/songwriter/keyboardist Ron Stockert, and Colbert by bassist Dennis Belfield; the group changed its name to Ask Rufus, which was later shortened to Rufus. In 1972, drummer Andre Fischer -- another former American Breed member -- replaced Graziano, and a young female vocalist named Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens) replaced McWilliams. Although Khan's dynamic stage presence helped this version of the band take off, Stockert was still the guiding force when they signed with ABC in 1973, and he lent a more pop/rock flavor to the group's self-titled debut, released later that year.
Although the album sold poorly, Rufus gained a fan in Stevie Wonder thanks to their cover of his "Maybe Your Baby." Wonder gave them a new composition, the slowly grinding "Tell Me Something Good," that he'd written specifically with Khan's vocal style in mind. Pulled as a single from their second album, 1974's Rags to Rufus, "Tell Me Something Good" was a Top Five smash that turned Khan into a star; she also co-wrote the R&B chart-topping follow-up, "You Got the Love." Clearly, the band had found its niche, and a number of personnel shifts ensued: Stockert left, Belfield was replaced by Bobby Watson, and Ciner was replaced by Tony Maiden. Their funk sensibility thus bolstered, Rufus returned with a strong new album before year's end, Rufusized, which spawned two more hits in "Once You Get Started" and "Please Pardon Me (You Remind Me of a Friend)." The billing on 1975's Rufus Featuring Chaka Khan made the singer's star power official, and produced one of the group's biggest hits in the R&B number one "Sweet Thing." Dave "Hawk" Wolinski joined as a second keyboardist for 1977's mellower Ask Rufus (the hit was "At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up)"), and William "Moon" Calhoun replaced drummer Fischer on 1978's Street Player.
Following the release of Street Player, Khan made what was perhaps an inevitable move into solo recording with the release of her debut, Chaka; despite scoring a significant hit with "I'm Every Woman," she remained an official member of Rufus. Still, the band's next album, Numbers, was recorded without her, and upon its release in 1979, it stiffed. Khan was back on board later that year for Masterjam, produced by Quincy Jones, and the band (featuring new drummer John "J.R." Robinson) was back on top of the R&B charts with "Do You Love What You Feel." However, Khan split again for 1980's Party 'Til You're Broke, and although she returned for 1981's Camouflage, Rufus' chart fortunes were slipping away. The George Duke-produced, Khan-less Seal in Red bombed, but Khan returned for one last go-round on 1983's Stompin' at the Savoy, a double-record set featuring three sides of live material and one side of new studio recordings. One of those new songs, "Ain't Nobody," became Rufus' final number one R&B hit, and also won a Grammy, allowing the group to end its career on a high note. Her contract up, Khan finally left for good afterwards and became a superstar thanks to a cover of Prince's "I Feel for You."
01. Slip 'N Slide 02. Keep it Coming 03. There's No Telling 04. Maybe Your Baby 05. I Finally Found You 06. Feel Good 07. Satisfied 08. Haulin' Coal 09. Whoever's Thrilling You (Is Killing Me) 10. Medley Love the One You're WithSit Yourself Down
01. You Got the Love 02. I Got the Right Street (But the Wrong Direction) 03. Walkin in the Sun 04. Rags to Rufus (Instrumental) 05. Swing Down Chariot 06. Sideways (Instrumental) 07. Aint Nothin But A Maybe 08. Tell Me Something Good 09. Look Through My Eyes 10. In Love We Grow 11. Smokin Room
01. Once You Get Started 02. Somebody's Watching You 03. Pack'd My Bags 04. Your Smile 05. Rufusized 06. I'm A Woman (I'm A Backbone) 07. Right is Right 08. Half Moon 09. Please Pardon Me 10. Stop on By
01. At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up) 02. Close the Door 03. Medley Slow Screw Against the WallA Flat Fry 04. Earth Song 05. Everlasting Love 06. Hollywood 07. Magic in Your Eyes 08. Better Days 09. Egyptian Song
01. Ain't Nobody Like You 02. You're To Blame 03. Keep It Together (Declaration Of Love) 04. Dancin Mood 05. Red Hot Poker 06. Don't You Sit Alone 07. Bet My Dreams 08. Pleasure Dome 09. Are We 10. Life In The City
01. Do You Love What You Feel 02. Tell Me Something Good 03. Dance Wit Me 04. Hollywood 05. Stay 06. Once You Get Started 07. You Got The Love 08. At Midnight (My Love Will Lift You Up) 09. Please Pardon Me (You Remind Me of a Friend) 10. Sweet Thing
01. Take It To The Top 02. The Time Is Right 03. When I Get Over You 04. You Turn Me All Around 05. You, The Night And The Music 06. Blinded By The Boogie 07. I'm Saving This Love Song 08. You're Really Out Of Line 09. Distant Lovers 10. No Regrets
01. You Got The Love 02. Once You Get Started 03. Dance With Me 04. Sweet Thing 05. Tell Me Something Good 06. You're Welcome, Stop On By 07. Pack'd My Bags 08. I'm A Woman (I'm A Backbone) 09. At Midnight
01. Ain't That Peculiar 02. Stay 03. What Cha' Gonna Do For Me 04. Do You Love What You Feel 05. Ain't Nobody 06. One Million Kisses 07. Try A Little Understanding 08. Don't Go To Strangers
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