Monday, September 21, 2009

The Sorels & Streets of Fire

The only good thing in the 1984 film "Streets of Fire" comes at the end, when the vocal group The Sorels perform "I Can Dream About You." The performance is about 4 minutes of joy--even if it is diluted a bit with cutaways to the lead actors dully summing up the movie--as the Sorels bounce, clap, shimmy and moonwalk (!) their way through the song.

Yep, that's Stoney Jackson as The Sorels' lead singer, Bird. Robert Townsend, Grand Bush and Mykelti Williamson were Lester, Reggie and BJ, respectively. They're not the song's true vocalists, but they sell it so well--especially Jackson--that the song and the performance were re-cut into this music video and released as a single (and that's where things get a little interesting. More, after the clip):

The "I Can Dream About You" single became a big hit (#6 on the Billboard charts) for Dan Hartman, who wrote the song and sang the vocals. But the version of the song in the movie--and in the first clip above--wasn't sung by Hartman at all, but by C. Winston Ford, Jr., an relatively unheralded singer who was, according to rumor, at least, working in Radio Shack when he was picked to sing the vocals for the movie.

But when the single and the soundtrack were released, Ford's lead vocals were replaced by Hartman's. And though Ford was black and Hartman was white, their vocal styles were similar enough that most people never noticed two different men performed the song.

The actors who played The Sorels all found a measure of success after "Streets of Fire." The song's two singers, sadly, have died. Hartman died of a brain tumor in 1994. Ford who never became famous, but developed into a journeyman music talent whose work spanned gospel, R&B, rock and jazz, was killed in an car accident in Colorado in 2007. His childhood friend Philip Bailey of Earth Wind & Fire sang "Keep Your Head to the Sky" at Ford's funeral.


F L E E said...

you know after so many years i'm still trying to find Winston Ford's version I Can Dream About You?

Anonymous said...

Me too :-(

billy said...

you'll only gitit from the music vid, or the movie clip