Sometimes an artist can release a song that doesn't happen, but a few years later someone else does it and has a hit. So it was with one of my former artists Jackie DeShannon, who with Donna Weiss composed a song called BETTE DAVIS EYES, and released it in 1974. Jackie had her share of hits, when I worked with her she was "Lady Love," with the back to back hits: "Put A Little Love In Your Heart, and "What The World Needs Now Is Love." But in this case her recording didn't catch fire, it can be the arrangement, the lack of airplay and a bunch of other things, but when that happens we'd just say, "Next Case."
Then in 1981 KIM CARNES did the song with synthesizers and a very different arrangement, and "Boom" it was everywhere. "Bette Davis Eyes" spent 9 weeks at the Top of the Hot 100, and took Grammy's for both Song of The Year and Record of the Year.
So it goes, but don't feel bad for Jackie and Donna, the writer's residuals on a hit like that are considerable and continue coming in for the life of the song. I'm sure Ms DeShannon had a momentary feeling of disappointment, but she was a pro and had played in the big game for a long time.
As for Ms Carnes, "Bette Davis Eyes" would be her only hit, but it put her on the map as a bona fide hit maker. Producer Val Garay said they got it on the first take...the stars were in their orbit. Fun Fact: Bette Davis sent letters to Carnes, Weiss and DeShannon thanking them for bringing back her name, and "her grandson now looked up to her." She also sent them roses after the Grammy's.
So here is Kim Carnes in a highly produced (MTV Ready) video, with the song that may become tonight's ear bug. @therealdonrocks
A version of this post originally appeared on The Don Rocks Facebook page. For more stories like these every day, join us on Facebook and Twitter.