#35: Bobby Caldwell ‘What You Won’t Do for Love’

Stop me if you've heard this one before: An artist completes an album, listens to it, and decides that something's missing. So before submitting it to the record company, they go into the studio, mess around with some tracks and come up with a gem that eventually carries the project. Well, that's a variation of what happened to Bobby Caldwell, who had completed the recording of his 1978 self-titled solo debut for TK Records, only to have the record label tell him that they didn't necessarily hear a "hit." Caldwell went back to the studio with just some beats, quickly wrote down some lyrics, and today's entry in the countdown--"What You Won't Do for Love"--was born.

The single catapulted the debut to multi-platinum success, reaching the top ten on both the Billboard Pop (#9) and R&B (#6) charts. Caldwell, thanks to his record company portraying him in only silhouette on album covers and posters, remained a mystery to all those that fell in love with his silky-smooth vocals. In fact, it wasn't until he went out to promote the single that audiences discovered that he was white. The song has been remade many times, with my personal favorite being the Phyllis Hyman version from her Living All Alone album, with Tupac's use of the beat for his "Do for Love" track coming a close second. Enjoy.

Bobby Caldwell: "What You Won't Do for Love"

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar

    Classic, Classic, Classic ! The horns, the synths and the vocals !
    And this cat sounds JUST like his records live.

  2. Bobby C is not to be messed with, I knew he was a white dude but hell good music is good music. Him and Darryl Hall have always represented. His version is by far the standard for this joint, i still bang it in the car and at work:)

  3. one of my favorites...i tend to sing it at karaoke spots...

  4. not that it matters, but i was sooo surprised to find out that bobby caldwell is white. i grew up listening to that song, and just assumed he was black. i saw him on a show a few years ago and i was like, "WHAT? that's WHO?"
    g'on bobby!