Jermaine Stewart will always remind us that we don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time!
Pop star Jermaine Stewart proved a big hit, albeit for a short time in the late 1980’s before succumbing to hard times in the 1990’s and a sad, early death. Jermaine was his middle name, he was born William Jermaine Stewart in Ohio in 1957 and wanted to be star from an early age. After making it as a dance in the late 1970’s, where he met and befriended Jody Watley. The two auditioned for a new band that was being put together but only Watley was selected for the group that would be called Shalamar. Jermaine didn’t go un-noticed and was signed on his own merit to Arista Records and in 1984, released his debut single, “The Word Is Out”.
The track reached No.41 in America but did nothing internationally. The album of the same name made the top 100 but the following singles failed to chart. It would be top songwriter and producer Narada Michael Walden (Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin) who would put Jermaine on the map with the lead single from his second album, “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off”, in 1986, giving Jermaine a more current sound that fitted in with the pop charts at the time and it worked as the song took off and became a huge hit around the world, peaking at No.2 in the UK, his first hit there, and No.5 in America. The album, “Frantic Romantic”, was also a much bigger success, getting to No.34 at home and becoming a mid-charting hit internationally, although as previously, the following singles did not match the lead single’s success.
From here onwards, Jermaine’s success was largely international, particularly in the UK, where his third album and singles were all chart successes. The lead single, “Say It Again”, released at the end of 1987, went to No.7 in the UK and was a top ten hit around Europe, making No.27 in America, which would be his last appearance on the sales chart there.
Jermaine’s third album, “Say It Again”, peaked higher than its predecessor in the UK and featured the top twenty hit “Get Lucky” and “Don’t Talk Dirty To Me”, both of which made the US Dance chart top twenty and were both mixed by British engineer Phil Harding, better known for his association with top production team Stock Aitken Waterman. Jermaine’s song “Hot And Cold” featured on the soundtrack to the film ‘Weekend At Bernie’s’ as he began writing material for his fourth album.
That followed in 1989, but “What Becomes A Legend Most” did not belie its title and both the album and the two singles released from it, all flopped. Jermaine released “Set Me Free” in 1992, the title and lead single from his fifth album, which was released and then withdrawn by his then record company, Reprise, due to lack of interest. Jermaine withdrew from public sight and did attempt a comeback in the mid-1990’s when he started writing and recording new material. Sadly, this was left incomplete as Jermaine fell in and died of AIDS related liver cancer on 17th March 1997 aged 39. Some of these tracks, along with B sides and previously recorded and unreleased songs would later see the light of day on the album “Attention: A Tribute to Jermaine Stewart” in 2005, while a greatest hits compilation came out a few years later.
Jermaine’s time in the spotlight was short but he did gift us some superb 80’s pop classics, one of which turns up regularly on TV adverts and shows. Indeed, “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off” saw a revival in the UK in 2011 when it featured in a chocolate commercial and found so much interest from a new generation of music fans that the song returned to the singles sales chart at No.29, twenty five years after it had first turned up! The track has also been sampled for dance hits in the 2000’s, thus, the name Jermaine Stewart is assured of a place in modern popular music history, long after he left us wanting more and his own personal journey unfinished. Say it again, Jermaine…