Amii Stewart – Knock On Wood (1978)

Written by on 3 March 2021

Amy Stewart, the fifth of six children, was born into a big, [strictly catholic, but] fun loving, country style family…as my mum was one of thirteen children. Her father, Joseph Stewart II, signed her up for singing and dancing lessons in 1960, when she was four years old. An Amy Stewart was already registered with the Actors’ Equity Association, so she changed the spelling of her first name to Amii. She briefly enrolled in the Howard University in Washington but soon left for the Classical Repertory Dance Ensemble (CRDE) to study ballet and modern dance.

In 1975, prior to her signing a contract at Ariola Records, Stewart worked at the Touring company for the stage production of the musical revue Bubbling Brown Sugar, relocating to places of production, like Miami, then New York city’s Broadway and eventually London’s West End, where she met Barry Leng, songwriter and record producer for Hansa Records.

The song You Really Touched My Heart, a Leng/Simon May composition and produced by Leng, was Stewart’s first recording, published by the end of 1977. An album followed, released in February 1979, which contained five Leng/May songs, one Leng/Morris song and three cover versions. The album yielded the single releases Knock on Wood and Light My Fire / 137 Disco Heaven.

Stewart’s first single release, a Disco cover version of the 1966 Eddie Floyd composition “Knock on Wood”, reached number one of the U.S. Billboard single charts in April 1979 and earned her a platinum record and a Grammy Award nomination. It also ranked high in the single charts throughout Europe and reached #6 in the UK and #2 in Australia. Another single, a medley cover song of the Doors classic Light My Fire and 137 Disco Heaven, entitled “Light My Fire/137 Disco Heaven” was released in the same year, entering the charts and reached #5 in the UK, #14 in Australia and #69 in the US.

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