United Artists 454
aul Anka holds the record of having the widest gap between number one singles. His first two number one records, "Diana" and "Lonely Boy," charted in 1957 and 1959, respectively. His third number one single, a duet with Odia Coates, topped the Billboard Hot 100 a full 15 years and two weeks later.
"(You're) Having My Baby" was not without controversy. "We tested the song before its release and knew there would be flak," Anka told Paul Rosenfield in a 1975 Los Angeles Times interview. "But it's nothing compared to the acceptance. I wasn't putting women in a subservient position, for God's sake. Motherhood is a fact of life."
"It's the personal statement of a man caught up in the affection and joy of childbirth," Anka responded. Still, during a tour that followed the record's chart run, Anka acknowledged he made "a concession to women's lib" and changed the lyric to "having our baby," which altered the viewpoint of the singer sufficiently to quiet any complaints.
Anka wrote "(You're) Having My Baby" for his wife and their four daughters while he was appearing in Lake Tahoe, California. Before composing the tune, he met a singer from Oakland, California, named Odia Coates. At the time, Anka was producing an album for Edwin Hawkins ("Oh Happy Day").
"I had called Edwin to ask his advice about a local deal offered to me," Odia explained in a Billboard interview, "and he said to forget about it, he'd talk to Paul about me. Later I got a call and he had set up an audition for me in Las Vegas, where Paul lives. I did 'Do You Wanna Dance' and Stevie Wonder's 'If You Really Love Me.' Paul was taken away by the songs but I didn't know that because he was very calm at the time. So I went on and continued my vacation and a week later gave Paul a call. And he said, 'Where have you been, I've been trying to reach you.'"
Paul wrote and produced a song for Odia, "Make It Up to Me in Love," leased to Buddah Records. "But we soon discovered Buddah wasn't going to do anything with the song. They had signed Gladys Knight, so who's Odia Coates?" she asked rhetorically.
Coates then signed with producer Rick Hall, who leased her recordings to Anka's label at the time, United Artists. She was in the studio with Anka when he was recording "(You're) Having My Baby" as a solo effort. United Artists executive Bob Skaff was also there and he suggested Odia duet with Paul on the song.
Coates also sang with Anka on the follow-up single, "One Man Woman/One Woman Man," which went to number seven in early 1975. She then charted at number 71 with a solo single, a cover version of Electric Light Orchestra's "Showdown." It was the last chart record for Coates, who was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, and grew up in Watts, California. Her father was a pastor in the Beautiful Gates Church of God in Christ there, Odia sang in his church and became a member of the Southern California State Youth Choir. She turned professional in 1968, singing at a club in Sunnydale, California, while working during the day as a secretary for an aircraft company. Her next gig was in Batman's Cave at the Wayne Manor Club, where she worked with Sly and the Family Stone.
She worked with a band called Brotherly Love and then joined singer Merry Clayton in the Sisters Love. She was doing background singing when she made the fateful call to her friend Edwin Hawkins.
Anka had several chart successes in the latter half of the '70s, including "I Don't Like to Sleep Alone" (number eight), "(I Believe) There's Nothing Stronger Than Our Love" (number 15) and "Times of Your Life" (number seven), based on the Kodak commercial. In 1978 he left United Artists and returned to RCA, then signed with Columbia Records. After over three decades of charting records, he remained as active as ever in the 1980s and onward.
- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.
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