Once Upon a Time in the Top Spot: Curtis Mayfield, Superfly
43 years ago today, Curtis Mayfield found himself atop the Billboard Top 200 Albums chart with one of the funkiest soundtracks - nay, one of the funkiest albums, period - of all time.
By the time Mr. Mayfield was tasked with composing the soundtrack for the 1972 Blaxploitation classic starring Ron O'Neal, the musical world had long since become familiar with Mayfield's work as a songwriter as well as a singer, thanks to his years with The Impressions. The success of the Superfly soundtrack, however, was…well, what else can we call it but “super”? The title track was a hit, of course, but so was “Freddie's Dead,” with both songs making their way into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. (In addition, the latter song found new appreciation when it was covered by Fishbone.)
As for Mayfield, his work on Superfly led to other soundtrack work over the years, including Short Eyes, Claudine, A Piece of the Action, Sparkle, and Let's Do It Again. Alas, none of them managed to duplicate the chart-topping success of Superfly, but if you're only going to have one soundtrack ascend all the way to the pinnacle of the Billboard Top 200, Superfly is clearly the one that deserves to take home the gold.