Saturday, February 9, 2013

Pebbles - Mercedes Boy

Pebbles (born as Perri McKissack; Pebbles was a childhood nickname) had a brief but successful career as a solo artist before transitioning to management.  She is one of few artists who was probably more successful as a manager than a performer ... but more on that in a moment.

Pebbles got her start as a backup singer for Bill Summers and Con Funk Shun in the early 1980's.  In addition to singing, she began writing songs and eventually secured a recording contract with MCA.  Her self-titled first album, released in 1987, peaked at #14 and produced two top 5 hits -- Girlfriend (#5) and Mercedes Boy (#2).  Her second album, 1990's Always also did well and produced two more top 40 singles.

In 1989, Pebbles married her second husband (she has been married 4 times as of this writing), record producer L.A. Reid.  This led to the formation of Pebbitone (her management company) and Savvy Records (her record label).  More importantly, Pebbles became the manager of a new female R&B group called TLC.  While TLC became superstars, Pebbles relationship with the band deteriorated over time, and eventually TLC left Pebbitone, around the same time that Pebbles marriage to Reid ended.  Pebbles then became more religious and left the secular music industry.

"Mercedes Boy" was written by Pebbles about a high school boyfriend, and co-produced by Charlie Wilson (of Gap Band fame).  It is notable for having a strong guitar solo, which is something of a rarity for R&B (and may be one factor that helped the song cross over).

Cool (weird) trivia fact:  The male dancer is Rudy Houston, a former Solid Gold dancer who also appeared in Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done For Me Lately?" video.  In the 1990's, he apparently underwent a sex change operation (and appeared on the Sally Jessy Raphael Show to discuss it).


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