Bobby Caldwell, 2009
|Birth name||Robert Hunter Caldwell|
|Born||August 15, 1951|
New York City, U.S.
|Origin||Miami, Florida, U.S.|
Robert Hunter Caldwell (born August 15, 1951) is an American singer and songwriter who recorded the hit single "What You Won't Do for Love" in 1978. After several R&B and smooth jazz albums, Caldwell turned to singing standards from the Great American Songbook. He maintains a loyal following in Japan.
Bobby Caldwell was born in Manhattan, but grew up in Miami. His mother sold real estate and one of her clients was reggae singer Bob Marley; Caldwell and Marley became friends. Growing up in Miami exposed Caldwell to a variety of music such as Haitian, Latin, reggae and R&B. He grew up listening to the music of Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. When he was 12, Caldwell started playing piano and guitar. He was drawn to rock and roll, jazz and rhythm and blues. At 17, he worked with his band in Las Vegas, then moved to Los Angeles. He was a member of a Miami band called Katmandu who wrote much of their material while also performing traditional standards. Caldwell played multiple instruments and sang.
He signed with TK Records in Miami. In 1978, after songs for his first album were recorded, executives told Caldwell they enjoyed the album, but thought it was lacking a hit. Caldwell returned to the studio for two days and wrote "What You Won't Do for Love". TK was mainly an R&B label popular among African American listeners. Executives at the label wanted to conceal the fact that Caldwell was white, so they kept his face off the album cover. When he toured with Natalie Cole to support the album, most of the audience was black and many were surprised that Caldwell was white.
"What You Won't Do for Love" reached the top ten on the Billboard magazine Pop (No. 9) R&B (No. 6), and Adult Contemporary (No. 10) charts. The song has been covered, remade and sampled many times. Caldwell remade it in 1998. It was covered by Go West, Phyllis Hyman, and Boyz II Men and was sampled by Tupac Shakur. It was covered by Elliott Yamin during the fifth season of American Idol in 2006. The 1980 track "Open Your Eyes" was sampled by J Dilla on Common's "The Light" from his 2000 album "Like Water For Chocolate".
Caldwell's debut album was followed by Cat in the Hat (1980) and Carry On (1982). For the latter album, Caldwell played all the instruments, was the producer and helped with arranging and mixing. In 1983, Caldwell released August Moon only in Japan. It was released in the United States in the 1990s.
Singer Boz Scaggs advised Caldwell to write songs for other musicians after TK Records shut down. Caldwell wrote "The Next Time I Fall", which became a hit for Amy Grant and Peter Cetera, and songs for Roy Ayers, Chicago, Natalie Cole, Neil Diamond, Roberta Flack, Al Jarreau and Boz Scaggs.
On Blue Condition (1996), Caldwell turned from R&B to recording big band arrangements of songs from the Great American Songbook, particularly those sung by Frank Sinatra. He also portrayed Sinatra in tributes to the Rat Pack in Las Vegas. He continued to sing standards on Come Rain or Come Shine (1999), The Consummate Bobby Caldwell (2010) and After Dark (2014). In 2015, he collaborated with record producer Jack Splash on the album Cool Uncle.
Caldwell wrote and performed songs for the movies Back to School ("Educated Girl"), Mac and Me ("Take Me, I'll Follow You"), Salsa ("Puerto Rico") and its sequel ("Every Teardrop"). He also recorded a song for the 1984 film Night of the Comet ("Never Give Up"). Due to what he has cited in interviews as a lower cost of use than the original recordings, his versions of big band standards have appeared in several films. Examples include Simone (2001) and Lake Boat (2002).
Aside from a minor role in 1988's Salsa, Caldwell portrayed Frank Sinatra from October 1999 to January 2000 in the Las Vegas musical The Rat Pack is Back.
Caldwell is popular in Japan, where he was nicknamed "Mister AOR." In Japan, the acronym "AOR" (AOR short for "Adult Oriented Rock") is used to describe the style commonly called Adult Contemporary in the United States. In 1992, he received Japan's equivalent of a Grammy Award for Best International Artist.
|Year||Title||Billboard chart peak||Certification|
|1978||Bobby Caldwell||No. 21 Albums, No. 7 R&B||US: Double Platinum, Japan: Platinum|
|1980||Cat in the Hat||No. 113 Albums, No. 46 R&B||US: Gold, Japan: Platinum|
|1982||Carry On||No. 133 Albums, No. 41 R&B||Japan: Gold|
|1983||August Moon||Japan: Gold|
|1989||Heart of Mine|
|1992||Stuck on You||No. 65 R&B|
|1993||Where Is Love|
|1995||Soul Survivor||No. 6 Jazz Albums, No. 23 R&B|
|1996||Blue Condition||No. 18 Jazz Albums|
|1999||Come Rain or Shine|
|2005||Perfect Island Nights||No. 5 Jazz Albums|
|2007||Live at the Blue Note Tokyo|
|2010||The Consummate Caldwell|
|2012||House of Cards|
|2015||Cool Uncle||No. 18 Jazz Albums|
|1998||Timeline: The Anthology||No. 8 US Jazz Albums|
|2001||Time and Again: The Anthology Part 2|
|2020||The Time Has Come - Ultimate Anthology||Same songs as Anthology, Pt.1 + Anthology, Pt.2, different order.|
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1976||"The House is Rockin'"||—||—||—||—||Non-album single|
|1978||"What You Won't Do for Love"||9||6||10||—||Bobby Caldwell|
|"Can't Say Goodbye"||103||36||—||—|
|"Down for the Third Time"||—||—||—||—|
|1980||"Coming Down from Love"||42||28||—||—||Cat in the Hat|
|"All of My Love"||77||67||—||—|
|1984||"Don't Quit" (12")||—||—||—||53||Non-album single from Body by Jake soundtrack|
|1987||"What You Won't Do for Love" (reissue)||—||—||—||—||Bobby Caldwell|
|1988||"Take Me, I'll Follow You"||—||—||—||—||Mac and Me soundtrack|
|1991||"Real Thing"||—||—||41||—||Heart of Mine|
|"Janet"||—||88||—||—||Stuck on You|
|1996||"I Give In"||125||53||—||—||Soul Survivor|
|2015||"Miami Nights"||—||—||—||—||Cool Uncle|
|"—" denotes single did not chart or was not released|
- Donelan, Charles (August 2, 2007). "Bobby Caldwell Sings at the Lobero". Santa Barbara Independent.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Bobby Caldwell". AllMusic. Retrieved 12 July 2017.
- Gordon, Ed (19 May 2005). "Bobby Caldwell: 'Perfect Island Nights'". NPR.org. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- "Singer/Songwriter Bobby Caldwell". PBS. Archived from the original on 2015-06-23.
- "What You Won't Do For Love Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "Tawiah Covers Bobby Caldwell's "Open Your Eyes"". okayplayer.com.
- Wynn, Ron. "Carry On". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- Appleford, Steve (6 October 1991). "Writing Hits Not Enough for Singer Caldwell". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- Leight, Elias (18 November 2015). "Cool Uncle: Inside 2015's Smartest Retro-Soul Revival". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 10 November 2017.
- Kohlhaase, Bill (2 August 1999). "Caldwell Goes Back a Bit and Does It Frank's Way". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- Rizik, Chris (9 December 2014). "Bobby Caldwell – After Dark (2014) (Review)". SoulTracks. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "Discography". Bobby Caldwell. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "Bobby Caldwell | Album Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
- "Bobby Caldwell Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 13 November 2017.