There's a common cliche in music biopics that you might call the eureka fallacy. Our hero is having a conversation or strumming a guitar when inspiration strikes and boom! - there's the song that will define them forever. It always looks hokey and implausible but sometimes that's really how it happens.
One evening in
So he sat down at the piano and started riffing on the theme, weaving in ideas from Peebles and local DJ Bernie Miller. The song was finished that night and presented the next morning to Hi's studio maestro,
Pop music is the only artform where your life can be changed forever by one good night's work. In the short run, I Can't Stand the Rain made Peebles's name. In the years since, it has been covered and sampled by dozens of artists, including
Peebles was born in
Founded in 1957, Hi was about to hit its stride as a soul label with releases from OV Wright,
"He looked out for everybody," Bryant confirms. "He was easy to get along with as long as you were doing the things he wanted."
Mitchell put his new signing together with
Bryant resented being distracted from his solo career while Peebles didn't like being coached when she'd been singing since she was in kneesocks. But, gradually, they came to appreciate each other's strengths and realise how much they had in common. Their flourishing relationship soon bled into the songs. Written while they were on the road together, 1971's 99 Pounds ("Good things come in small packages") was Bryant's flirtatious gift to his new love. "I thought it would be a good introduction," he says. "A good song for her to brag on herself."
In 1974 they were married and celebrated their relationship on the song Until You Came into
It was also when she met
"I don't think I was angry," says Peebles, amused by the memory. "I think I just smiled and kept singing."
Did he ever apologise? "Oh yeah, he really did. He was drinking. He didn't know what he was doing. He found me the next day at the hotel and he said: 'I'm so sorry. I made a monkey out of myself.' And I told him that was all right, I understood."
Peebles and Bryant couldn't have predicted that I Can't Stand the Rain would become part of the fabric of pop, despite reaching only No 38 on the US pop chart. "You could always feel good about a song but I don't think anybody knew for sure this would be a hit," says Bryant. "We were hoping that every song we did would be a hit." Nor did they realise it would prove unrepeatable. Peebles had 10 more R&B hits, including the magnificently vengeful I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down and the punchy Beware, but never came close to the mainstream again.
Some critics reckoned Peebles had the talent necessary to be a star but not the outsized personality. Mitchell had another theory. "She was the girl with the big voice who could have really gone further," he told
Peebles doesn't exactly disagree. "I was happy the way I was. I still did a lot of songs but at that point I was married, I had a child and I was happy. Knowing [stardom] would take me away from what I was really like, it didn't bother me that much."
She recorded her last album for Hi in 1978, just after the label was sold and relocated to
Peebles has only made a handful of albums since. You wonder if she ever resents how that one night of bottled lightning has overshadowed everything else she's done, but resentment isn't her style. "It kept me going, everybody recording it," she says. "It helped me to know that somebody was listening and recognising my talents. Of course, there's a lot of stories in a lot of the songs I wrote but that's the one people recognised. I never get tired of telling that story."
I Can't Stand the Rain and four other Hi albums by
Most Popular Stories
- Koch Brothers Step up Anti-Obamacare Campaign
- Vybz Kartel Convicted of Murder
- Stocks Close Lower Ahead of Crimea Vote
- Ulta Shares Look Good on Strong Q4
- FDIC Sues Big Banks Over Rate Manipulation
- Jittery Investors Dumping Russian Stocks
- JLo Turns the Tables in New Vid: 'I Luh Ya Papi'
- U.S. Consumer Sentiment Falls in Early March
- FDIC Accuses Big Banks of Fraud, Conspiracy
- Is Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in Andaman Sea?