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Starland Vocal Band

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About Starland Vocal Band

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Awards

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Albums

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Afternoon Delight - the Song

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Starland Vocal Band - the TV Show

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Snapshots - photos of the group

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Starland Vocal Band - Reunites

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Article - 1977

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Article - 2002

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CNN Video "Where Are They Now?"

Clockwise from the top:

Taffy Nivert Danoff, Bill Danoff, Margot Chapman, and Jon Carroll

 

Quick Links to pages about: 

(Bill's Music Heritage - Overview)  (Fat City, Bill & Taffy)  (Bill & John Denver)

My Space page for Starland Vocal Band

Starland Vocal Band

The group won the Grammy for "Best New Artist of 1976"

Their song "Afternoon Delight" won the Grammy for "Best Arrangement for Voices" and is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Starland Vocal Band dominated American airwaves during the Bicentennial summer of 1976 with their quintessential soft rock chart-topper "Afternoon Delight."  The group emerged from the Washington, D.C. folk scene of the late '60s, its roots dating back to the formation of the acoustic duo Fat City, which comprised future husband and wife Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert. Together the couple wrote a song titled "I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado" which was recorded by John Denver and Mary Travers; with Denver, they also penned the smash "Take Me Home, Country Roads."  In 1969 Fat City recorded their debut LP, Reincarnation; after 1971's Welcome to Fat City the duo began working as simply Bill and Taffy, regularly opening for Denver on tour.

On Bill and Taffy's second album, 1974's Aces, the duo enlisted 18-year-old singer and pianist Jon Carroll; the couple was so impressed by Carroll's performance they decided to form a new group, adding the youngster as well as vocalist Margot Chapman to become the Starland Vocal Band.  They soon signed to Denver's Windsong label and in 1976 issued their self-titled debut LP, with the lead single "Afternoon Delight" quickly reaching the top of the charts on its way to helping earn the group five Grammy nominations.  (They won two, including Best New Artist.)  "Afternoon Delight" was so enormously popular that the group even landed their own short-lived CBS variety series The Starland Vocal Band Show, which featured a then-unknown David Letterman.

The second Starland Vocal Band album, Rear View Mirror, followed in 1977, but failed to match the success of its predecessor; Late Nite Radio, issued a year later, also fared poorly by comparison, and after scoring one last minor chart entry with the single "Loving You with My Eyes" the group disbanded in the wake of their fourth and final LP, 1980's 4 x 4. In the wake of Starland Vocal Band's demise the Danoffs divorced; Carroll and Chapman, who had also married at the peak of the group's success, later split up as well. All four members of the group later went on to mount solo careers, though never again recapturing the success of "Afternoon Delight."

Awards:

In 1976 the Starland Vocal Band's song, "Afternoon Delight" received a Grammy Award for "Best Arrangement for Voices" and the band also received one for the "Best New Artist of the Year." They also received 3 other Grammy nominations and their song is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  In 2001 Bill Danoff was the recipient of the third annual John Denver Award at the World Folk Music Association.

 

YouTube Clip of Starland Vocal Band, singing "Afternoon Delight"

 

 

Albums:  
Starland Vocal Band

1976

1.   Boulder to Birmingham   (Bill Danoff / Emmylou Harris)

2.   Baby, You Look Good to Me Tonight   (Bill Danoff)

3.   American Tune   (Paul Simon)

4.   Starland   (Bill Danoff)

5.   California Day   (Bill Danoff)

6.   War Surplus Baby   (Jon Carroll / Bill Danoff)

7.   Starting All Over Again   (Bill Danoff)

8.   Afternoon Delight   (Bill Danoff)

9.   Hail! Hail! Rock & Roll   (Bill Danoff / Taffy Nivert Danoff)

10.  Ain't It the Fall   (Bill Danoff)

 

"Afternoon Delight" was a chart-topping single from the Starland Vocal Band's eponymously-named debut album in the summer of 1976, which peaked at #20 on the Billboard Hot 200 and remained on the album charts for 25 weeks.

REVIEW: Though the Starland Vocal Band's debut album will forever be remembered for the bright piece of fluff that is "Afternoon Delight," there was much more going on here.  Most of the songs on this album were in more of a country gospel vein, as interpreted by a pop band. There were some signs of experimentation and a wider horizon — the multi-part harmonies on the madrigal version of Paul Simon's "American Tune" are absolutely lovely, and much else here is affecting. Though much of his writing is schmaltzy, Bill Danoff's original lyrics can be poetic, as in "Boulder to Birmingham," his collaboration with Emmylou Harris. The sheer enthusiasm of "Hail! Hail! Rock and Roll!" will bring a smile to anyone who has any affection for '50s rock, and the rest of the album is a pleasant little joy. — Richard Foss
Rear View Mirror

1977

1.  Liberated Woman - 3:00

2.  Mr. Wrong - 3:12

3.  Light of My Life - 3:03

4.  Too Long a Journey - 3:32

5.  Norfolk - 5:29

6.  St. Croix Silent Night - 3:34

7.  Rear View Mirror (Danoff) - 3:49

8.  Fallin' in a Deep Hole - 3:16

9.  Prism - 1:55

10.  Don't Say Forever - 3:09

Late Night Radio

1978

1.  Late Nite Radio (Danoff/Danoff)

2.  Don't Go to Oregon

3.  Man Who Couldn't Get Away

4.  Akron

5.  Fly Away

6.  Write Your Life

7.  Third Rate Romance

8.  Everyman

9.  Please Ms. Newslady

10.  Friends With You (Danoff/Nivert)

4 x 4

1979

1.  Loving You With My Eyes

2.  A Fool In Love

3.  Apartment For Rent

4.  Baby Sent a Letter

5.  Everybody La Bamba

6.  Love, I Thought I Would Never Find Love

7.  Love Stuff

8.  If You're Good To Me

9.  Down at the Hop

10.  You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go

Christmas At Home

1980

  1. O Holy Night

  2. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

  3. Away in a Manger

  4. Angels We Have Heard On High

  5. The First Noel

  6. What Child Is This?

  7. Joy To The World

  8. Here Comes Santa Claus

  9. The Two Days of Christmas

  10. Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer

  11. Deck the Halls

  12. Jingle Bells

  13. Silent Night

  14. We Wish You A Merry Christmas

 

Note:  This is the actual running order.  The Album listing is not correct.

 

Afternoon Delight: The Best of the Starland Vocal Band

Feb 28, 1995

1.  Afternoon Delight (Danoff) - 3:12

2.  Boulder to Birmingham (Danoff/Harris) - 4:14

3.  California Day (Danoff) - 3:35

4.  Late Nite Radio (Danoff/Danoff) - 3:06

5.  Too Long a Journey (Carroll) - 3:32

6.  You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go (Dylan) - 3:08

7.  American Tune (Simon) - 3:24

8.  Rear View Mirror (Carroll/Danoff) - 3:45

9.  Ain't It the Fall (Danoff) - 3:40

10.  Baby, You Look Good to Me Tonight (Danoff) - 3:04

11.  Loving You With My Eyes (Danoff/Kunkel) - 3:20

12.  Friends With You (Danoff/Nivert) - 3:12

This is a true "best of" collection from all four of SVB's albums.

It is issued by K-Tel.  It is hard to fine, but may be available through rare CD sites online.  The biography on this CD is correct and well-written.

Afternoon Delight: A Golden Classics Edition

1995

This is a compilation of SVB's first two albums.

It is issued by "The Collectables" Series.  It is often available online at usual websites.  The biography on this CD is not entirely correct and contains many errors.

1.  Boulder to Birmingham - 4:17

2.  Baby, You Look Good to Me Tonight - 3:10

3.  American Tune - 3:27

4.  Starland - 3:06

5.  California Day - 3:38

6.  War Surplus Baby - 4:23

7.  Starting All Over Again - 3:13

8.  Afternoon Delight - 3:14

9.  Hail, Hail Rock and Roll - 2:46

10. Ain't It the Fall - 3:43

11. Liberated Woman - 3:00

12. Mr. Wrong - 3:17

13. The Light of My Life - 3:04

14. Too Long a Journey - 3:36

15. Norfolk - 5:33

16. St. Croix Silent Night - 3:36

17. Rear View Mirror - 3:51

18. Falling in a Deep Hole - 3:18

19. Prism - 1:53

20. Don't Say Forever - 3:11

 

Reviewer:  A music fan from Little Ferry, NJ:  This CD is a compilation of Starland Vocal Band's first two albums. Though critically panned at the time, the music and the incredible blend of four part harmony and acoustic accompaniment makes for an enduring listening experience. The only group to be released on John Denver's "Windsong" label, Starland Vocal Band brings an infectious joy to their music making. "Hail, Hail, Rock and Roll" has more references to early Rock (along with fun inuendo) that will catch your ears; the soaring crystal clear tenor and piano work by Jon Carroll on "Starland" will melt your heart. "Rear View Mirror" (title cut from the second album) is a bittersweet song about more than a journey up the California Coast. "The Light of My Life" will become one of your favorite family-type love songs, and Taffy Danoff's lead on the song is perfect for the music! This quartet exudes on the album the same kind of spirit they brought to their concert show. They're fun, cheery, yet deadly serious about making special music with their voices. If all you know is "Afternoon Delight" (named, by the way, after a menu item from a Washington, DC restaurant, actually what Bill and Taffy Danoff thought that menu item ought to be), you'll be delighted into the evening, and even in the morning, with the rest of this CD collection. I just hope the third album also gets re-released! I've enjoyed S.V.B. since 1976 when they were premiered on John Denver's summer tour. They still sound just as fresh, just as fun, just as honest today.

 

 

"Afternoon Delight" - the Song
The Starland Vocal Band
Windsong 10588

 July 1976 • Billboard: #1

According to an account in Rolling Stone, Taffy credited the song's creation to a culinary repast. "Bill wrote this after having lunch at Clyde's in Washington, D.C.," she explained to an audience before performing the song. "It seems Clyde's has a menu called 'Afternoon Delight' with stuff like spiced shrimp and hot Brie with almonds. So Bill ate it -- the food, that is -- and went home and explained to me what 'Afternoon Delight' should be."

Danoff acknowledged that audiences might find hidden meanings in the song. "I didn't want to write an all-out sex song," he told Dennis Hunt of the Los Angeles Times. "I just wanted to write something that was fun and hinted at sex. It was one of those songs that you could really have a good time writing."

The Danoffs thought they might have had a problem getting airplay on "Afternoon Delight," but few stations found it objectionable. "If the song had been banned it would have been a real injustice," Bill said in the Times. "The lyrics are subtle and sophisticated and not at all raunchy. It might have been banned years ago but not today."

The following spring, the Starland Vocal Band was awarded the Grammy for Best New Artist of 1976. Rear View Mirror, the follow-up to their 1976 debut album, was released by Windsong in June 1977. It wasn't nearly as successful as its predecessor, peaking at number 104 on the Billboard Hot 200 and remaining on the charts for 13 weeks.

~

Midi file of "Afternoon Delight."

 

YouTube Clip of Starland Vocal Band,

singing "Afternoon Delight"

 

 

 

 

"Starland Vocal Band’s ‘Afternoon Delight’ still being served after 35 years" - July 9, 2011  - Full Article -

Bill and Starland Vocal Band are featured in a Washington Post article reflecting back on 35 years since "Afternoon Delight" became a No. 1 hit: 

(Photo:  Ellsworth Davis/TWP) - Starland Vocal Band singing "Afternoon Delight" at Clyde's in Georgetown, Washington, DC.

 

 

 

"Starland Vocal Band" - the TV Show
 

CBS - TV
First Aired:  July 1977

Last Aired:   September 1977

Stars:

Jeff Altman - Regular Perfomer
Jon Carroll - Co-Host
Margot Chapman - Co-Host
Bill Danoff - Co-Host
Taffy Nivert Danoff - Co-Host
David Letterman - Regular performer

 

Fueled by the phenomenal success of their 1976 smash hit, "Afternoon Delight," The Starland Vocal Band were given their own variety series on CBS.  The group consisted of (then husband-wife team) Bill & Taffy Danoff, who co-wrote "Take Me Home, Country Roads" with John Denver, Jon Carroll and Margot Chapman (who would later marry and divorce).  Winners of the Grammy© for "Best New Artist" in 1976, the group remains one of the biggest "one-hit wonders" of all time.  Their short-lived show has been all but forgotten -- except that its eclectic cast featured political satirist Mark Russell, Firesign Theatre members Phil Proctor & Peter Bergman, comedian Jeff Altman and a then-unknown David Letterman.

 

 

Snapshots of Starland Vocal Band's Career:

(Click on thumbnail photo to see larger version)

Color publicity photo

Photo from the program for their concert at Wolf Trap, August 1977

Publicity photo

Publicity photo

Publicity photo

Color publicity photo

Black and white publicity photo

Rehearsing at home

Photo by Terry Arthur

SVB joined John Denver's Spirit Tour in 1976

Jon Carroll

Margot Chapman

Margot, close up

Taffy Nivert Danoff

Photo of SVB performing, from magazine article

Cover of the Capital Magazine. (See article below photo galleries.)

Newspaper Ad for The Starland Vocal Band Show on TV.

SVB's Show was featured on the cover of TV Channels Magazine, Washington Post, August 1977

Bill Danoff in the recording studio.

Jon Carroll in the recording studio.

Margot Chapman recording

Taffy Nivert Danoff recording.

Jon and Margot, close up.

Taffy and Bill, close up,

Starland Vocal Band backing up John Denver in concert.

Starland Vocal Band backing up John Denver in concert.

Starland Vocal Band backing up John Denver in concert.

Starland Vocal Band backing up John Denver in concert.

Starland Vocal Band backing up John Denver in concert.

Starland Vocal Band backing up John Denver in concert.

Starland Vocal Band backing up John Denver in concert.

Starland Vocal Band backing up John Denver in concert.

In the Summer of 1976, Jon Carroll, Margot Chapman, Taffy Danoff and Bill Danoff joined

other popular musicians to perform at "Survival Sunday, an anti-nuke rally organized by Peter

Yarrow at the Hollywood Bowl, California.  Peter Paul and Mary reunited for this concert.

Photo: courtesy of Chris Walter

 

© Bill Danoff - These photos are copywrited by Bill Danoff and the photographers.  They may not be reproduced, sold, published or used in any way without permission from Bill Danoff.  (To contact Bill, write to webmaster:  Penguins 51)

Starland Vocal Band - Reunites:

Starland Vocal Band featured on TV Show:

 

REUNITED: Starland Vocal Band

Bill Danoff, Jon Carroll, Taffy Danoff, and Margot Chapman on TV Show

"My Music:  The 70's Experience"

Saturday, August 4, 2007

 

 

 

Finale of "The Old Cellar Door Gang Remembers John Denver" Concert

The World Folk Music Association's Benefit Concert

The Birchmere Music Hall, Arlington, VA

January 16, 1998

Bill Danoff (co-producer), Maura Kennedy, Ben Carroll, Emma Danoff, Lucy Danoff, Taffy Nivert Danoff, Steve Weisberg (behind), Mack Bailey, Jon Carroll, Doris Justis and Sean McGhee

(photos by Chuck Morse, courtesy of the World Folk Music Association)

Ben Carroll, son of Margot Chapman and Jon Carroll.

Bill Danoff and Lucy Danoff, daughter of Bill and Taffy

Bill and Taffy

Bill

Emma Danoff, daughter of Bill and Taffy

Jon Carroll

Jon Carroll

Margot and Taffy

Margot Chapman

Taffy Nivert Danoff

 

Capital Magazine Article:

Not Just 'Washington's Own’ Anymore

 A sunny afternoon in The Atrium at Clyde's, the popular Georgetown restaurant and bar.  It seemed the appropriate time, and place, to interview the Starland Vocal Band.  All four of them. 

 Here, you might say, is where it all started for Washington's most successful young folk-rock group.    One day a couple of years ago, Bill Danoff, the lead guitarist, singer and composer, came in for what turned out to be a very significant lunch.  He looked over the new menu, saw what was listed under the heading of "Afternoon Delights" and had a flash — “Hey . . . Afternoon Delight . . . not a bad title for a song.”

About six months later he had the song, a catchy, raunchy, country-flavored number that had nothing at all to do with what was printed on the men  in The Atrium at Clyde's.

The group recorded it for their first album early last year.  Then it was released as a single.  Slow to take off at first, it then began moving up the Top 40 charts late last spring, and for five weeks last summer "Afternoon Delight," a musical ode to the pleasures of day-time dallying, headed the lists.  "We had the number one song in the country on the Fourth of July," Taffy Danoff points out with something like Bicentennial pride.     

Earlier this year the Starland Vocal Band had something more to be proud about — the  won two Grammies (the recording industry equivalent of the Oscar), one for best vocal arrangement, the other for best new artists of the year.

They may be new artists to the rest of the country, but not to Washington music- lovers.  They’re practically old-timers here, despite their relative youth.  Bill and Taffy Danoff and Margot Chapman first worked the Georgetown bar circuit in 1970 in a nine-piece hard-rock band called Fat City.  When the group disbanded, Bill and Taffy kept the name and started performing as a duo, but switched to a softer, folksier, good-timey sound. They did their own material mostly, and built up a good following here (at Tammany Hall, Clyde's, and The Cellar Door, among other places), even if the money didn't quite pay the rent. Margot Chapman joined another group, Breakfast Again. Jon Carroll wasn't in the picture yet.

The Danoffs' first big break came when they appeared with John Denver at The Cellar Door during Christmas, 1970.  They had Denver over to their dank Q Street basement apartment one night after the show to hear some of their songs.  Denver flipped over one they had not quite completed and worked with them all night to finish it so he could  record it—with them—for his new album.  The song, of course, was "Take Me Home, Country Roads," one of the biggest record hits of 1971, and now a country-pop standard. The song made them headliners at The Cellar Door ("Our favorite place in the world to perform," Taffy says), a bright new act on the concert circuit, and got them an RCA recording contract.  It didn't do John Denver's career any harm, either.

It's incredible how one little song can change your whole life," Danoff says, "but 'Country Roads' changed ours. It became our calling card, and it brought us our house, our car. People tell you that all you need is one hit single, and they're right."

It was another five year before they came up with another one, but not for lack of trying—three more albums of trying.  None of them sold well.  Nothing really clicked until Bill and Taffy decided to expand and become Starland. (The name was Taffy's inspiration.)  The fourth  member, Jon Carroll, a talented and versatile young musician from Fredericksburg, Virginia, had worked with them on keyboard, arrangements and backup vocals during their last year or so as Bill and Taffy.

"I  had  a  couple of new songs at the time," says Danoff, a Springfield, Massachusetts native who studied linguistics at Georgetown University and writes most of Starland's material, "and it just sort of came to me that a group of four of us would work much better. Taffy and I weren't really looking for more people, but Jon and Margot had such beautiful voices and we all got along so well, it just seemed like the right thing to do."

Physically (as well as musically) they complement each other, as the pictures accompanying this article will attest.  Their sound is often compared to the Mamas and the Papas, the very successful soft-rock group of the Sixties—a comparison they don't mind at all.

Unlike a number of other performers who got their start in Washington, they have not moved to New York or L.A.  They really like it here and prefer to be based here—the Danoffs in a 14-room, 3-fireplace manor in suburban McLean (Taffy, a civil service brat, grew up in nearby Falls Church), and John and Margot in the Danoffs' former house on MacArthur Boulevard.  John and Margot are the godparents of Bill and Taffy's two-year-old daughter, Emma.

"People in show business think it's so weird that we live in Washington, D.C.," says John Carroll.  "They think we must live in Colorado, with John Denver."

"I don't know how it is with other groups, but we really care for each other a lot," says Margot Chapman, an exotic-looking San Francisco native who left California at the height of the flower-child invasion, ten summers ago.  "We are close, and I think it shows in our music."

They don't exactly pass unnoticed, sitting there this afternoon in the greenery-bedecked Atrium, being photographed and interviewed, simultaneously, by Capital and The Unicorn Times.  Old friends stop by to say hello, including John Laytham, part owner of Clyde's, for whom they have a present—a  framed gold record of their million-plus seller, "Afternoon Delight."  It's a nice gesture, a nice moment.  Laytham is pleased, and touched.  He promises to hang it in a prominent place.

Their new single is a country reggae number called "Liberated Woman"-from their new album, Rear View Mirror, now in the record stores.  And they would be leaving in a few days for L.A., to begin taping their six-week summer replacement series of half-hour TV shows for CBS.  They'll also do segments of it in Washington. Then comes a tour—Starland's first without  John  Denver, with who  they've worked regularly on the road and on TV.(Denver has also recorde several other Danoff songs, and brought Starland to his RCA/Windsong record label.)  And they’ll appear in concert at Wolf Trap August 8.

All in all a very busy summer – and maybe a crucial national popularity test for Washington’s own Starland Vocal Band. 

- Richard Lee for “The Capital” – July, 1977

Bill Danoff and the Starland Vocal Band
by Emily M. Parris

A Grammy-winning songwriter, Bill Danoff is best known as co-writer (along with ex-wife Taffy Nivert and singer, John Denver) of the song, "Take Me Home, Country Roads." He also wrote the Starland Vocal Band's 1976 hit "Afternoon Delight" as well as many songs that were sung by John Denver.  Other familiar Bill Danoff songs include "Potter's Wheel", "Friends With You", "I Guess He'd Rather Be in Colorado", "Late Night Radio" and "Boulder to Birmingham" co-written with Emmylou Harris.

Bill Danoff was born May 7, 1946 in Springfield, Massachusetts. He graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in Chinese. He formed a duo with Taffy Nivert called "Fat City." The song, "Take Me Home, Country Roads", was written when they were doing a gig at the Cellar Door in Washington, D.C. and John Denver was also playing there.  Bill and Taffy's debut album as "Fat City" came out in 1969 and was called "Reincarnation." Other albums included "Welcome to Fat City" (1972) and "Aces" (1974). The album, "Aces" also included Jon Carroll on the vocals and the piano.  The couple regularly toured with John Denver and also the Moody Blues.

The Starland Vocal Band was formed in 1976. It was composed of Bill and Taffy plus Jon Carroll and Margot Chapman. Their song, "Afternoon Delight" reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 on July 10, 1976. When their song gained national fame they toured throughout the U.S., and appeared on the Tonight Show and the Merv Griffin Show. According to the Artist Facts website, the title of the song, "Afternoon Delight", came from a special dish at a restaurant called Clyde's in Washington D.C.  The Afternoon Delight was a plate of shrimp with Brie and almonds.  The song "Afternoon Delight" was also included in the movies "Boogie Nights" and "Good Will Hunting".  In 1977 they appeared on their own show called The Starland Vocal Band Show. It was on Saturdays on CBS in the 8:00pm time slot. David Letterman was a writer for the show and made his first television appearance on their show.

The group made 4 albums: "Starland Vocal Band" (1976), "Rear View Mirror" (1977), "Late Night Radio" (1978), and "4x4" (1980) all on the Windsong Label. In 1995 K-Tel came out with a compilation called "Afternoon Delight: The Best of the Starland Vocal Band".  The group disbanded in 1980, and the members went on to solo careers.  In 1987 Bill Danoff appeared as a Police Officer in the movie "Tin Men." Bill's first solo recording called "Souvenir" was released in 1990, and in 2002 he released a CD containing a compilation of songs written by him that were also sung by John Denver. The album was produced by John Carroll and is called "I Guess He'd Rather Be In Colorado."

Awards:  In 1976 the Starland Vocal Band's song, "Afternoon Delight" received a Grammy Award for "Best Arrangement for Voices" and the band also received one for the "Best New Artist of the Year." They also received 3 other Grammy nominations and their song is in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  In 2001 Bill Danoff was the recipient of the third annual John Denver Award at the World Folk Music Association.

At the present time, Bill owns the Starland Cafe in Washington D.C. with his wife Joan. She is always there running the show and Bill is often there on Friday Nights for a musical show.

Starland Vocal Band

Starland Vocal BandMention of Starland Vocal Band brings quickly to mind the 1976 hit "Afternoon Delight" that earned the band two Grammy Awards for Best Arrangement for Voices and Best New Artist as well as two other Grammy nominations that same year. The history of the group dates back to Bill Danoff and his songwriting. Befriending John Denver in the mid-1960's, Bill collaborated with Denver and Taffy Nivert to create "Take Me Home, Country Road," which Denver debuted at the Cellar Door in Georgetown. At that time known as Fat City, Bill and Taffy toured across the country with John Denver as his opening act. In 1976, Bill and Taffy joined with Jon Carroll and Margot Chapman to form Starland Vocal Band, their "Afternoon Delight" hitting the charts fast and furious. The band opened for John Denver at several major venues, including Madison Square Garden, bringing great publicity to this instantly successful group. Starland Vocal Band continues to receive notoriety for their success by being spotlighted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, having two Starland Vocal Band compilations released, one from K-Tel and one from Collectables that brings together the group's first two albums, and being included in two recent movies.

Quick Links to pages about:

(Bill's Music Heritage - Overview)  (Fat City, Bill & Taffy)  (Bill & John Denver)

The Twelfth (And Final) Day Of Mellowmas!

From http://jasonhare.com

December 22nd, 2006

Well, friends, here we are.  You thought the day would never come.  I know.  It’s been rough, hasn’t it, listening to all this Mellow holiday music?  But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and it shines brightly today, as we present The Most Mellow Holiday Record Of All.

Starland Vocal Band - Christmas At Home

Entire album (zip)

O Holy Night
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Away In A Manger
Angels We Have Heard On High
The First Noel
What Child Is This?
Joy To The World
Here Comes Santa Claus
The Two Days Of Christmas
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Deck The Halls
Jingle Bells
Silent Night
We Wish You A Merry Christmas

You didn’t even know this existed, did you?

We haven’t talked about Starland Vocal Band on Mellow Gold as of yet.  I’m sure we will at some point.  But it means that I haven’t told you my dirty little secret: I have a Starland Vocal Band bias.

You see, my parents were both big John Denver fans in the ’70s (be nice, people, they read my website).  They saw SVB open for Denver a number of times and really loved them.  They bought their first two albums, Starland Vocal Band and Rear View Mirror, and played them all the time.  And I mean all the time.  Every road trip we ever took involved Starland Vocal Band.  I know all 20 of those songs from the first two albums by heart.  I know the harmony lines.  I can play them on piano.  The whole thing.

So, for better or for worse, because they were such a part of my childhood and my musical memories with my parents, I really love those two albums.  I am actually amused by the repeated flak they get for "Afternoon Delight," because I can’t find anybody that’s ever actually listened to any of their other songs.  Some are actually quite good, and all feature their best quality: a pristine, four-part harmony blend.

Being a good son, I made it my goal in the late ’90s to get as much SVB stuff as possible for my dad (who, by the way, had moved on by then, but I didn’t know what else to get him for Christmas).  Eventually those first two records were released on CD, so that was an easy one.  Finding their last two original albums, Late Night Radio and 4×4, only came within my grasp once eBay came around.  Those two (mediocre) albums, lovingly transferred to CD, and maybe an SVB songbook, and I was pretty much out of ideas.

Then, one year, I came across Christmas At Home on eBay.  I had never heard of it.  Most sites that mention Starland Vocal Band don’t have any record of it, either.  In fact, I think the only place I’ve really found it documented is on founding member Bill Danoff’s website.  So I bought it, had it transferred to CD (as you’ll be able to tell, there are some clicks and pops I wasn’t able to remove), and proudly gifted it to my father for Christmas.

And we listened.

And we realized: this album sucks.

And that, my friends, is the story of how Jason ruined Christmas.

But the album IS mellow, and from the right time period as well.  I’ll argue that it’s not as Mellow Gold as Fogelberg, but it’s got the smooth acoustic guitars and the trademark SVB harmonies (oh, the harmonies!).  It’s as close to a full Mellowmas album as we’re ever going to get.

I hadn’t listened to it in about five years, and gave it a re-listen.  I sent it to Jeff, too.  We opted not to do song-by-song commentary, because, well, we didn’t want to kill you.  But here are some of my favorite Jefito comments:

Oh Jesus, is this ever square.
Bing Crosby would have laughed at this.
I think I’m going to throw up.
What fresh hell is this?
  (JH note: this one is my favorite.)
It isn’t as bad as REO or Medeiros, certainly.
Actually, it’s probably better than most of the shit we’ve been posting about.
But it’s still pretty awful.
It sounds like argyle.
  (JH note: second favorite.)
"What Child is This?" is an urgent plea for gang violence.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  Funny guy, that Jefito.  (By the way, from the minute I informed him of this album’s existence, he claimed it was my moral imperative to share these songs with you, so he shares in the blame.)  Although I admit to being a bit ill-equipped for snarking on this band, I was able to recognize what songs were good and what songs sucked.  I do recommend listening to the whole thing - even with 14 songs, it clocks in at under 25 minutes.  However, if you want to pick n’ choose, here are my thoughts on a few:

Best Songs, Seriously:  "Angels We Have Heard On High"; "The First Noel"; "Silent Night"

Worst Songs, Seriously:  "Here Comes Santa Claus"; "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer"

Most Mellow Gold, Mainly Because Of An Overactive Bass Drum:  "Deck The Halls"; "O Holy Night"

Worst Use Of Children’s Voices:  "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" "Rudolph"

Song That Would Have Been Proclaimed "Ironic Genius" Had Sufjan Stevens Recorded It:  "The Two Days Of Christmas"

Biggest Suckers/Best Sports This Mellowmas:  You guys.

So there you have it.  Enjoy, or don’t enjoy, this final Mellowmas offering.  Here’s wishing you and yours a very happy holiday - and from both Jeff and I, thanks for indulging us as we reviewed The 12 Days Of Mellowmas!  Now let us never speak of it again.

 

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This page was updated: 04/24/2008 02:19 AM