Tag Archives: rock music in film

“Music in Film”
Songs & Soundtracks

Soundtrack Music

“The Saddest Song”


Samuel Barber’s “Adagio
for Strings” used powerfully
in several films.

Stirring Film Music

“The Ecstasy of Gold”


Famous “gold fever” song
from Good, Bad & Ugly
film w/ Clint Eastwood.

Saxophone Music

“Harlem Nocturne”


Story includes use of
“Harlem Nocturne” as title
track for TV’s Mike Hammer.

Film Brings New Sound

“Reggae Breaks Out”


The Harder They Come
soundtrack sends
reggae music soaring.

Film Music & Marketing

“Big Chill Marketing”

1980s & 1990s

The Big Chill soundtrack
helped bring original
rock music to TV ads.

Righteous Brothers Music

“Lost That Lovin` Feelin`”

1964 & 1965

Includes Bobby Hatfield’s
“Unchained Melody” used in
Ghost with Demi Moore.

Beach Boys Music

“Love & Mercy”


Brian Wilson bio pic
captures his genius & demons
and his beautiful music.

Film Score Gems

“Philadelphia Morning”


Underrated & poignant
songs by Bill Conti helped
make Rocky “best picture.”

Mystery Film Song

“Sea of Love”


Phil Phillips hit song
plays mystery role in
Al Pacino film.

Death Center Scene

“Soylent Green”


Classical music medley &
old-world scenery help give
Sol a euthanized send off.

Entertainment Assets

“The Sound of Money”


Story covers business
legacy of Rogers and
Hammerstein music.

…30 Years Later

“Love is Strange”


Mickey & Sylvia’s 1950s hit
has 1980s chart run after
Dirty Dancing scene.

Film Soundtrack Hit

“Louis Armstrong”

What A Wonderful World

This 1968 Armstrong song
became a 1988 hit after use in
Good Morning, Vietnam.

Piano Love Theme

 “The Love Story Saga”


Francis Lai’s Oscar-winning
score includes theme song
that became Top 40 hit.

James Bond Music

“You Only Live Twice”


Nancy Sinatra theme song
& Japanese music make
Bond film a winner.

James Bond Music



Shirely Bassey’s “Goldfinger”
theme song became a
Billboard No. 8 hit.

1950s Rock in Film

“Fats Domino”


His music has more
than 100 film & TV
credits, 1950s-2010s.

1950s Rock in Film

“Rock Around The Clock”

Bill Haley: 1951-1981

Blackboard Jungle‘s use
of “Rock Around the Clock”
sent Haley’s music soaring.

Good Song Choice

“The Bourne Profitability”


“Extreme Ways” song by
Moby fits the Bourne mold;
used in film series.

Link Wray Music

“Rumble” Riles Censors


Link Wray’s power guitar
upset some, but his songs
are used in several films.

Rousing Film Music

“Let The River Run”


Carly Simon’s rousing song
for Working Girl
left filmgoers inspired.

Poignant Film Music

“Streets of Philadelphia”


Springsteen & Neil Young
songs in Philadelphia
helped convey AIDs tragedy.

Vietnam War Music

“Paint It Black”


This Rolling Stones song
used in Full Metal Jacket
and TV’s Tour of Duty.

Movie Theme Song

“The Green Berets”


“Ballad of the Green Berets”
was No. 1 hit in 1966 & theme
song for 1968 John Wayne film.

1950s Rock Films

“Moondog Alan Freed”


He coined term “Rock ‘n
Roll” & made series
of rock music films.

Dirty Dancing Music

“Do You Love Me?”


Old Contours’ song has
new life after featured
role in 1988 film.

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Date Posted: 11 January 2021
Last Update: 11 January 2021
Comments to: jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Music in Film: Songs & Soundtracks,”
A Topics Page, PopHistoryDig.com, January 11, 2021.


“Big Chill Marketing”

Poster for the 1983 film, with subhead above that reads: 'The story of eight old friends searching for something they lost, and finding that all they needed was each other.' For many Baby Boomers who saw this film, the soundtrack was especially memorable, a fact not lost on Madison Avenue.
Poster for the 1983 film, with subhead above that reads: 'The story of eight old friends searching for something they lost, and finding that all they needed was each other.' For many Baby Boomers who saw this film, the soundtrack was especially memorable, a fact not lost on Madison Avenue.
     In September 1983, a movie named The Big Chill was released — a story about eight former 1960s’ college friends who gather for an unscheduled reunion after a friend’s untimely death. The Columbia film was nominated for, but did not win, three academy awards, including Best Picture.

The Big Chill did reasonably well at the box office and also in its DVD afterlife, and today still has fans online and elsewhere. 

But for many who first saw the film in 1983, it was the soundtrack — an evocative collection of original 1960s rock ‘n roll tunes — that was especially memorable and enduring.  In fact, the movie’s music became something of a key landmark in the history of advertising, as it would help to spur the use of original rock music in a myriad of advertising applications in the years that followed. 

Prior to The Big Chill, for the most part, popular rock musicians sang company jingles, or advertisers used copied versions of their songs, performed by imitators and studio groups. But after The Big Chill, there was a decided turn by Madison Avenue to use original rock ‘n roll songs, or portions of them, in all kinds of advertising. 

“…[T]he movie probably gave far too many ad agencies the notion to buy up the rights to 60s’ songs for use in pushing the nostalgia buttons of key-demographic consumers,” later wrote Ken Tucker in The New York Times.  

Indeed, by the mid-1980s oldies rock ‘n roll had reached vintage nostalgic value among middling Baby Boomers, who were then arriving by the millions in their full, prime-time spending years. And while it wasn’t the only factor, The Big Chill certainly helped persuade Madison Avenue to begin using original-track rock ‘n roll more prominently in their advertising. In fact, a few industry wags would call the practice “Big Chill advertising.” 

Big Chill Music
1983 Soundtrack
[click titles for Amazon singles]


I Heard it Through the Grapevine
Marvin Gaye (1968, #1)
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
The Rolling Stones (1973, #42)
A Whiter Shade of Pale
Procol Harum (1967, #5)
Tracks of My Tears(1965, #16)
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Wouldn’t it Be Nice(1966, #8)
The Beach Boys
Tell Him (1963, #4)
The Exciters
The Weight“(1968, #63)
The Band
Good Lovin’(1966, #1)
The Rascals
Strangers in the Night
Gimme Some Lovin’(1967, #7)
Spencer Davis Group
Bad Moon Rising (1969, #2)
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Ain’t Too Proud to Beg(1966, #13)
The Temptations
When a Man Loves a Woman(‘66,#1)
Percy Sledge
A Natural Woman(1967, #8)
Aretha Franklin
In the Midnight Hour
The Rascals
I Second That Emotion(1967, #4)
Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
Joy to the World(1971, #1)
Three Dog Night
Quicksilver Girl(1968)
The Steve Miller Band
My Girl(1965, #1)
The Temptations

Songs listed by approximate appearance in the film. 

What follows below is some history on Madison Avenue’s use of rock music in advertising; but first, a few words on The Big Chill’s storyline and its musical packaging.


The Film

The Big Chill is an introspective film featuring a weekend of soul searching by the group of college friends who have lost one of their former inner circle to suicide, activist Alex Marshall (Kevin Costner played the corpse).  The film’s star-studded cast included Glenn Close, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, and Jeff Goldblum, among others.

The story opens at the funeral of Alex, as his death is the first unpleasant bit of reality to hit the group. They soon become immersed in a “ten-years-later” reality check on what they each have become since their college days.

Included among this group of friends are: a medical doctor; an owner of athletic shoe company; a TV actor; a public-defender-turned-corporate-lawyer; an aimless and somewhat traumatized Vietnam veteran; a bored-to-tears housewife; a People magazine writer; and an attractive, somewhat younger woman who was living with the departed Alex at the time of his suicide.


Big Chill Sampler
“A Whiter Shade of Pale”-Procol Harum

This assorted mix of characters retires from the funeral to the South Carolina home of one of the group, where they each work through their various feelings, concerns and hopes during the weekend. They eat, drink, cavort, reminisce, dance, smoke dope, and bare their souls. They fondly recall their college days and their causes, but also confront their disappointments and the waning of their idealism.

Though never stated per se, “the big chill” has hit them; the reality that their undergraduate dreams and intentions are not being realized. Their lives and careers have not turned out exactly as they envisioned them in college. Turns out, life is more difficult and less inspiring than what they thought it would be.

In the end, after the weekend of soul-searching, some find new direction, some not. Others pick up where they left off. The film’s viewers, meanwhile, are fully engaged with the message, and also with the excellent soundtrack, as music becomes a big part of the film’s take-away connection.


The Music 

The Big Chill soundtrack, in fact, is top shelf; some of the best music of the 1960s, placed nicely in the film’s storyline, hitting its intended viewers in their deepest memory banks and remaining in their heads for days after seeing the film. During the church scene at the funeral of the departed Alex, the campus revolutionary, one of the group begins to play a few riffs of Alex’s favorite song on the church organ — the Rolling Stone’s “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” — as the camera pans the knowing smiles of his friends’ faces. The organ riff segues into the original tune which plays throughout the funeral scene.


Big Chill Sampler
“Tell Him” -The Exciters

In another scene in the kitchen where the group is cleaning up after a pasta and wine fest, The Temptations’ “Ain’t to Proud to Beg” is played, leading to impromptu dancing among friends.  “The scene encapsulates the spirit of the film,” one reviewer would later write, “friendship forged in the footloose optimism of the 60’s; camaraderie instantly regained through the nostalgic power of good pop music.” (see film promo clip).

Other tunes in the film — such as “A Natural Woman” by Aretha Franklin; “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” by the Beach Boys; “The Weight” by The Band; “Bad Moon Rising” by Creedence Clearwater Revival; “Tracks of My Tears” by Smokey Robinson; “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye; and “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum — all fit nicely into their scenes, serving as a kind of “comfort food” for Boomers.  The Big Chill soundtrack, in fact, quickly became a popular best-seller for Motown, climbing to #17 on the Billboard albums chart in 1983, selling 1 million copies by late March 1984.  All of this, of course, was not lost on Madison Avenue.

     The Big Chill wasn’t the first movie to use original rock ‘n roll music in a soundtrack.  Other films dating to the 1950s had already done so — such as 1955’s Blackboard Jungle, which used Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” over the opening and closing credits.  The Beatles were among the first to integrate film and original rock music in their mid-1964 A Hard Day’s Night, which used about a dozen of their songs.  Easy Rider of 1969 used rock music effectively in its score, and so did American Graffiti in 1973, the latter in a purposeful nostalgic vein.  Madison Avenue, meanwhile, had a long history of using all kinds of music in advertising.  However, rock ‘n roll music in advertising — especially original-version rock ‘n roll — was still new territory for advertisers in the early 1980s.


Pre Big Chill: 1960s-1985

In fact, prior to the mid-1980s, original rock ‘n roll music had pretty limited and spotty use in advertising.  Rock and popular recording artists were commissioned to sing company jingles or musical spots for various products using company-provided lyrics or compositions.  In 1963,  the folk music group The Limeliters helped inaugurate a series of radio ads for the Coca-Cola company.  They also did a few early TV ads.  The Shirelles, one of the popular “girl groups” of the early 1960s, were among the first pop acts chosen by Coke to record radio commercials, doing a series of those ads for the company over several years.  Among others who did Coke ads in 1965, and whose names appeared on vinyl promo recordings produced by Coke’s ad agency McCann-Erickson, were: the Four Seasons, Roy Orbison, Jay & the Americans, Jan & Dean, and others. In the 1965-69 period, for example, one Coca-Cola historian found 63 Coke radio spots by popular artists, including one by Freddie and the Dreamers singing one Coke lyric to their tune “I’m Telling You Now.”

Sample label from 1965 advertising recording of Coca-Cola jingles produced by ad agency McCann-Erickson featuring artists Roy Orbison and Jan & Dean
Sample label from 1965 advertising recording of Coca-Cola jingles produced by ad agency McCann-Erickson featuring artists Roy Orbison and Jan & Dean
     Among other Coke artists doing radio and/or TV spots during this era and later years were: the Bee Gees, Neil Diamond, the Moody Blues, the Tremeloes, the Troggs, Los Bravos, the Everly Brothers, Otis Redding, the Box Tops, Leslie Gore, Marvin Gaye, the Supremes, and Ray Charles.  Pepsi, 7-Up, and a number of other companies were then recording jingles with pop groups as well.  In the U.K., the young Rolling Stones recorded a rock jingle in the 1960s for Rice Krispies cereal that appeared on a European TV spot.  Still, most of this music was commissioned specifically for the product, and did not use original, pre-existing rock songs.  The nostalgic and “associative” value of these original rock songs, aimed at specific target groups, had yet to be linked to advertising pitches.

By the late 1970s, rock music was surfacing in a few other TV formats, as the 1976 Orleans hit, “Still the One” started to be used as the ABC-TV network theme song and also by the Nine Network in Australia for the same purpose.  In 1981, there were musicians hooking up with beer and liquor companies in a variety of relationships, some of which involved TV and radio spots, doing company jingles, appearing in print ads, or becoming involved in sponsorship arrangements.  These included Dave Mason of Traffic and later Fleetwood Mac, and Charlie Daniels of the Charlie Daniels Band doing beer commercials — Mason for Miller and Daniels for Busch.  The Commodores became involved with Schlitz beer; Kool & The Gang with Schlitz Malt Liquor, Journey joined Budweiser, and The Marshall Tucker Band with Ronrico Rum. In the 1960s and 1970s, the nostalgic and “associa- tive” value of original rock  `n roll music had yet to be linked to specific advertis- ing pitches. Ad agencies in the early and mid-1980s were also using some popular song melodies, but inserted their own product-specific lyrics usually performed by cover groups.  As writer Carrie McLaren noted in research she’d done on this history: the Platters’ “Only You” became “Only Wendy’s”; the Diamonds’ “Little Darlin'” became KFC’s “Chicken Little”; Buddy Holly’s “Oh Boy” became “Oh Buick!”; Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” became Burger King’s “Whole Lotta Breakfast Goin’ On”; Danny and the Juniors’ “At the Hop” becomes “Let’s Go Take a [Granola] Dip”; and Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” became “It’s Mac Tonight.”  In mid-1982, a version of the Beach Boys’ ”Good Vibrations” was being used in a Sunkist ad.  By this time too, MTV, “music television,” was becoming a force.  Launched in August 1981, the whole point of MTV was to use music videos to sell music.  But it also had a major impact on advertising.  By early 1984, for example, super pop sensation and MTV star Michael Jackson, then of “Thriller” and “moon walk” fame, had made two TV spots for Pepsi — ads that used Pepsi lyrics to the beat and sound of Jackson’s popular “Billie Jean” song in Pepsi’s “new generation” campaign.


Boomer Connection

Meanwhile, on another level, The Big Chill of 1983-84 helped show advertisers the way to a new kind of advertising to Baby Boomers through the rich connection to original rock songs.  “It became prevalent in the mid-’80s after The Big Chill came out,” according to Ray Serafin, an automotive writer for Advertising Age.  Many of the spots that followed The Big Chill, he explained, were trying “to evoke an emotional connection.” By the time of The Big Chill , the evocative con- nection between the ’60s music and its Boomer audience had become especially ripe. By the time of The Big Chill in 1983-84, the evocative connection between the music and its Boomer audience had become especially ripe.  More years had elapsed between the music’s initial popularity and Boomers’ middling years.  The music had, for this group, reached its “prime-time nostalgic vintage,” and so, had a more powerful appeal and connection.

In both film and advertising psychology, the music-emotion tie is a well-studied phenomenon, and has become a valued strategy.  Movie producers know that the right music in a movie scene can make the scene more powerful, more memorable.  Hollywood producers would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to get the legal rights to use the right song in the right spot.  Advertisers by the mid-1980s were willing to do the same.


Ford’s Yuppie Ads

In 1985, Ford Motor Company’s advertising agency, Young & Rubicam (Y&R), became an early developer of this approach, producing a series of 19 television commercials using 1960s and 1970s music.  These ads were used to pitch Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury cars.  Ford and Y&R called their advertising “The Yuppie Campaign” — meaning “Young Urban Professional” or “Young Upwardly Mobile Professionals,” describing a desirable Boomer market segment.  The aim of the Ford/Y&R campaign was to make an emotional connection with Yuppies, bringing back memories of when they were in college. Different popular songs were used on each commercial, some in the original, some by imitators.

Bette Midler Case

     Back in 1985, when the Ford Motor Co. and its ad agency, Young & Rubicam, Inc., launched a series of 19 television ads with rock ‘n roll music in their “The Yuppie Campaign,” one of the songs used was a 1973 Bette Midler tune, “Do You Want to Dance.” With some of the songs Young & Rubicam chose for this campaign, they tried to obtain the original song versions. However, in ten cases the ad agency employed “sound-alikes” and not the original artists or original versions. One of the “sound-alikes” imitated Bette Midler in her song “Do You Want to Dance.” Midler by then was a nationally known actress and singer who had won a 1973 Grammy as Best New Artist, and also had recordings that had gone Gold and Platinum. She was also nominated in 1979 for an Academy award for Best Female Actress in The Rose, in which she portrayed a pop singer Janis Joplin. Midler had a long history of avoiding commercial endorsements, and in fact had refused Ford’s offer to do the ad herself. When the backup singer produced a very Midler-like version of the song for Ford — a version that even fooled Midler’s friends — Midler took legal action.

     In 1986-87, Midler sued Lincoln-Mercury and Young & Rubicam, alleging that the use of a sound-alike in their ad constituted “an unlawful misappropriation of her persona.”  She lost her first attempt when her case was dismissed at the trial court level. But the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals came to her aide in a 1988 decision, noting that, “… when a distinctive voice of a professional singer is widely known and is deliberately imitated in order to sell a product, the sellers have appropriated what is not theirs and have committed a tort in California.”  She was also awarded $400,000 by the jury. Midler’s success — which came to be known as the “Midler tort” in California — put a damper on the use of sound-alikes. But soon, outright licensing of original songs became the preferred way to go for commercial interests, although many artists would not go down that path.

In early March 1985, for example, Lincoln-Mercury used the music from the Beatles song “Help”in one of their ads — though the tune in this case was sung by other artists, not the Beatles.  Still, it was the first time that a Beatles song was used in an American TV spot, and Lincoln-Mercury paid $100,000 at the time to use it.  After that, The Beatles refused to allow their music to be used in commercials, though that would change after a later battle with Nike.  Other artists whose music was used in the Lincoln-Mercury ads — either in the original or by imitators — included Bette Midler, the Coasters, the Four Tops, the Temptations, Tina Turner, and Martha & the Vandellas.

Among artists and fans, meanwhile, there was resistance to using rock ‘n roll songs in advertising and other commercial applications.  Some artists refused to allow their songs to be used for advertising. Among artists in the mid-1980s then resisting the practice were, for example, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Billy Idol, and John Mellencamp.  Some music fans would object to the practice in more fundamental way.

Carrie McLaren, writing some years later about music and advertising, described how she associated a car commercial with the song “Everyday People” by Sly and Family Stone. After casually hearing the song on a radio at a bagel shop, she caught herself in thought, angered by the car-ad association. Rather than remembering the artist per se, or “the everybody-can-get-along” message of the song, or even her college days when she first heard the music, her reaction took a different turn.

“When I reacted to “Everyday People,'” she explained, “it wasn’t about [the artist] selling out or some ’60s multicultural love-in; it was as if the song in my head had been swiped.”

And that for many fans — the appropriation and/or distortion of musical memory — would continue to be an issue as more and more original music was used in advertising. 

Still, the genie was out of the bottle by this time. Advertisers had discovered the power in original rock music and there would be little turning back. By 1986 Rolling Stone magazine had launched a separate newsletter, Marketing Through Music,  aimed at promoting the use of rock music to sell consumer goods, especially to the young adult audience.

The “Big Chill advertising” that began in the mid- and late-1980s was just the beginning.  Some important legal fights were yet to come, including the Beatles’ fight with Nike in the late 1980s over the use of one of their songs.  But increasingly, through the 1990s (see “Selling Janis Joplin”, for example ), the use of original rock music in advertising would escalate and become more common.

15th anniversary DVD edition, 1998. Click for copy.
15th anniversary DVD edition, 1998. Click for copy.
     As for The Big Chill, the movie and music continued to have a good run for years after its initial opening. In the year after the movie’s debut, a second album of music was released: The Big Chill: More Songs from the Original Soundtrack.

The original soundtrack meanwhile sold 2 million copies by late September 1985. It would eventually sell more than six million copies, becoming one of Motown’s best-selling albums. 

In 1998, at the film’s 15 anniversary year, there was a theatrical reissue of the film in November and a DVD version by Sony the following January. The DVD includes a retrospective documentary, deleted scenes, the movie’s trailer, and a six-page insert. 

The Big Chill reasserts itself effortlessly… as an irresistibly satisfying cultural artifact,” wrote Entertainment Weekly’s Lisa Schwarzbaum at the film’s 1998 reissue. In 1998 as well, both the original and supplemental Big Chill music albums were remastered and released anew. 

In 2004, a deluxe edition of the soundtrack was released containing all but two of the eighteen songs from the film, plus three additional instrumentals from the film. A second “music-of-a-generation” disc of nineteen additional tracks was also included in the deluxe edition, some of which had appeared on the original albums.  In 2008, some twenty-five years after its release, The Big Chill still had an online following.

Other stories on music and advertising at this website include: “Nike & The Beatles,1987-1989,” “Levi’s Be My Baby (TV Ad), 1980,” “Madonna’s Pepsi Ad, 1989,” “Selling Janis Joplin, 1995,” “Sting & Jaguar, 1999-2001,” and “G.E.’s Hot Coal Ad, 2005.” Thanks for visiting — and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research and writing at this website. Thank you. — Jack Doyle

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Date Posted:  22 October 2008
Last Update:  13 September 2021
Comments to:  jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Big Chill Marketing, 1980s & 1990s,”
PopHistoryDig.com, October 22, 2008.





Sources, Links & Additional Information

'The Big Chill' soundtrack. Click for copy.
'The Big Chill' soundtrack. Click for copy.
Michiko Kakutani, “A Film Festival With an American Accent,” New York Times, September 18, 1983.

Vincent Canby, Screen: “‘The Big Chill’, Reunion of 60’s Activists,” New York Times, Friday, September 23, 1983.

For The Big Chill song list in sequence by days of the film’s plot and specific movie moments, see website, Musica & Memoria (“music & memories”)

Bill Sizemore, “Advertisers Put ‘Big Chill’ on Boomers,” The Virginian-Pilot, Business section, Friday, February 24, 1995, p. D-1.

Carrie McLaren and Rick Prelinger, “Salesnoise: The Convergence of Music and Advertising,” and “Timeline of Music and Advertising,” both from Stay Free! #15, Fall 1998.

'Big Chill' soundtrack, 1998. Click for copy.
'Big Chill' soundtrack, 1998. Click for copy.
Carrie McLaren, “Licensed to Sell: Why the Jingle is Dead and Commercial Pop Rules,”Stay Free!, 1998.

“The Big Chill,” Wikipedia.org.

Lenn Millbower, “Talkin’ ‘Bout Pop Music,” Heroiclist.com.

Steve Chapple and Reebee Garofolo, Rock ‘n’ Roll is Here to Pay, Nelson-Hall, 1977.

Marc Eliot, Rockonomics: The Money Behind the Music. Franklin Watts, 1989.

Russell A. Stamets, “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing, Baby: The Right of Publicity and the Singing Voice,” FCLJ, No. 46, Volume 2, Indiana Law School (re: Bette Midler case).

Stephen Holden, “The Pop Life,” New York Times, November 30, 1988.

More 'Big Chill' music, 1998. Click for copy.
More 'Big Chill' music, 1998. Click for copy.

Ken Tucker, The New Season/Film; “Ain’t Too Proud to Obsess, All Over Again,” New York Times, September 13, 1998 [Ken Tucker is the critic-at-large for Entertainment Weekly.].

Don Aucoin, “Fifteen Years Later, `Big Chill’ Is Cooler than Ever,” Boston Globe, November 6, 1998.

Alex funeral scene from The Big Chill on You Tube (6:37 min).








The Big Chill cast in front of the home in South Carolina where the film was shot, from left: Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, Meg Tilly, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, Mary Kay Place, Jeff Goldblum, and JoBeth Williams.
The Big Chill cast in front of the home in South Carolina where the film was shot, from left: Glenn Close, Kevin Kline, Meg Tilly, William Hurt, Tom Berenger, Mary Kay Place, Jeff Goldblum, and JoBeth Williams.






“Do You Love Me?”
1962 & 1988

2003 album cover showing The Contours. Click for CD.
2003 album cover showing The Contours. Click for CD.
      It was early summer 1962.  Berry Gordy, Jr., of Motown Records was in a swivet. He was itching to record a new piece of music he was sure would be a hit record. The name of the song was “Do You Love Me?,” a jumpy dance tune that Gordy thought would be perfect for The Temptations, a new singing group destined to become one of Motown’s top performers.

At the time, however, the Temptations had no hit records. But Gordy believed his new song would be just the ticket to send them on their way. So on that day he was on a frantic search to find the group to record the song. But the Temptations couldn’t be found; they were out working a gospel review. 

As it happened that day, Gordy ran into another group of Motown artists in the hallways of his studio; a group called The Contours, the group that finally recorded the song.

     “Do You Love Me?” became a major 1962 hit single for The Contours on Motown’s “Gordy” record label, with Berry Gordy writing and producing the song.  The Contours then consisted of singers Billy Gordon, Hubert Johnson, Billy Hoggs, Joe Billingslea, Sylvester Potts, and guitarist Hugh Davis.  The group had recorded and released two previous singles — “Whole Lotta’ Woman” and “The Stretch” — but neither had charted.  In fact, the Contours were then in danger of being dropped from the label, until that afternoon when fate smiled upon them.

Original Gordy record label 45 rpm recording of 'Do You Love Me?,' first issued in June 1962. Click for digital.
Original Gordy record label 45 rpm recording of 'Do You Love Me?,' first issued in June 1962. Click for digital.
      “Do You Love Me?,” released in late June 1962, peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard pop singles chart, and was No. 1 on the Billboard R&B singles chart.  An album titled, Do You Love Me? (Now That I Can Dance), was also released in October 1962 — the first album ever released on the Gordy Records label.  The single sold over 1 million copies and the album had respectable sales as well.  

Music Player
“Do You Love Me?”

     “Do You Love Me?” was also covered in the U.K. by a group named Brian Poole and the Tremeloes and went No. 1 there for three weeks in October 1963.  The Dave Clark Five also did a version of the song in 1964 that went to No. 11 in the U.S.  The Contours, meanwhile, became a headlining act for Motown and were part of the first Motor Town Revue tour. Although no other Top 40 hits materialized for the Contours on the pop charts, they did turn out several other successful dance tunes that rose into the R&B Top 40, including, “Shake Sherry”(1962), “First I Look at The Purse” (1965), and “Just A Little Misunderstanding” (1966), among others.  By 1967, the group’s seven-year contract with Motown had expired.  A year later, after the Contours’ lead singer Dennis Edwards was asked to replace the departed David Ruffin of The Temptations, The Contours disbanded.

Dirty Dancing

Cover of 1988's 'More Dirty Dancing' CD, which includes the Contours' original 1962 hit song 'Do You Love Me?,' which hit the 'Billboard Hot 100' for a second time in 1988. Click for CD.
Cover of 1988's 'More Dirty Dancing' CD, which includes the Contours' original 1962 hit song 'Do You Love Me?,' which hit the 'Billboard Hot 100' for a second time in 1988. Click for CD.
      But then, more than 25 years later, lightning struck again. In 1987 came the movie, Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, which included a memorable dance scene backed by the Contours’ original “Do You Love Me?” song.  The film’s soundtrack of 1960s music became wildly successful, and was soon issued in multiple editions, most of which include “Do You Love Me?”.  In fact, in 1988, with the release of a follow-up soundtrack album entitled More Dirty Dancing, “Do You Love Me?” became a pop hit for a second time.  By July 1988 the song, which was also re-issued as a single, peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.  It remained on the chart for eight weeks.  The Contours — by then comprised of Joe Billingslea and three new members — joined other 1960s stars, including Ronnie Spector of The Ronettes, Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers and others, on a “Dirty Dancing Tour.”  That tour ran for ten-months, entertaining over two million fans in eight countries.  Two subsequent CDs — 1989 Dirty Dancing Live In Concert and 1998’s Great Dirty Dancing Hits — also included “Do You Love Me” and other Contours songs, as well as those of other artists.  Dirty Dancing soundtracks have sold more than 30 million units worldwide.  As the Contours put it on their web site, “Dirty Dancing has been very good to [us].”  In recent years, the surviving and replenished Contours have continued to perform in the U.S. and abroad.

Janelle Monáe in 2016 Super Bowl ad for Pepsi, dances to “Do You Love Me?” in 1960s segment of the ad. Click for her CD.
Janelle Monáe in 2016 Super Bowl ad for Pepsi, dances to “Do You Love Me?” in 1960s segment of the ad. Click for her CD.
Meanwhile, on the web, the Contours’ “Do You Love Me?” has shown up in a range of uses as background music — from Disney animations to one creative Happy Feet adaptation (formerly posted on YouTube, but since taken down). Another popular song from the Dirty Dancing film that had it origins in the 1950s is Mickey & Sylvia’s “Love is Strange,” also profiled at this website.

In 2016, pop sensation Janelle Monáe was featured in a Super Bowl TV ad for Pepsi in which she dances her way through a couple of decades of music history, beginning with the Contours’ “Do You Love Me” track, then to Madonna’s “Express Yourself,” and finally to Monáe’s own present-day act touting Pepsi – shown drinking a bit of the cola as she goes. It’s one of a continuing line of Pepsi ads over the last 20 years using pop stars and pop music to promote their sugar water – from Britney Spears and Madonna to Michael Jackson and Bob Dylan, among others. For additional stories on music and/or film, please see the “Annals of Music” category page or the “Film & Hollywood” page.

Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research, writing and continued publication of this website. Thank you. —Jack Doyle

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Date Posted:   28 July 2008
Last Update:   18 April 2020
Comments to:  jdoyle@pophistorydig.com

Article Citation:
Jack Doyle, “Do You Love Me?, 1962 & 1988,”
PopHistoryDig.com, July 28, 2008.


Sources, Links & Additional Information

Cover of The Contours: Essential Collection. Click for CD.
Cover of The Contours: Essential Collection. Click for CD.

“The Contours,” in Holly George-Warren and Patricia Romanowski (eds), The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll, Rolling Stone Press, New York, 3rd Edition, 2001, p. 206.

“The Contours,” “Do You Love Me”, and “Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance)”, Wikipedia. org.

“The Contours, 20th Century Masters: Millen-nium Collection,” Amapedia.Amazon.com.

For more detail on the history of The Contours see Joe Billingslea & The Contours.

Zoe Camp, “Janelle Monáe Dances in Super Bowl Pepsi Commercial; Watch Her Dress like Madonna,” Pitchfork.com, February 4, 2016.

Maura Judkis, “Janelle Monae Dances Her Way Through the Years in Pepsi’s 2016 Super Bowl Ad,” WashingtonPost.com, February 7, 2016.

Jack Doyle, “Madonna’s Pepsi Ad, 1989”(history of controversy around Madonna’s music & TV ad), PopHistoryDig.com, April 26, 2008.

Jack Doyle, “Pepsi’s Madonna Video: TV Ad: 1989,” PopHistoryDig.com, November 16, 2010.


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