Tribute Songs: The Commodores, Elton John, Puff Daddy, Naughty By Nature


Rumors swirl, cover-up, mystery, intrigue, and drama cloud the investigations over who actually killed Christopher Wallace (Notorious B.I.G.) and Tupac Shakur. Was it an East Coast/West Coast gang hit? Were the police involved? None of it ultimately matters, two young men who were the greatest rappers of their generation and arguably of all-time, are no longer with us due to gun violence, jealousy, and we all lost out on some incredible future music they would have continued creating these past 15 years. Puff Daddy, aka P. Diddy, aka Diddy, aka, Sean Combs, a great friend of Chris and Treach, a dear friend of Tupac, did what they do best, record personal tribute songs to their lost best friend. Treach’s version is explicit but fitting for 2Pac’s style, Diddy went more spiritual and radio-friendly, both are great memories of 2 incredible MC’s gone too soon.


Ever heard of Walter “Clyde” Orange? He was the lead singer on two of the biggest Motown singles of all time. The Commodores 70’s funk jam, “Brick House” and their 1985 comeback single “Night Shift” were both sung by the drummer in the band. Lionel Richie’s massively successful solo career in the 80’s forced the band to regroup and change directions. Their tribute to the late Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson became one of the top selling songs of the band’s career and a #1 R&B smash. Remember that hook, “‘Jackie (Jackie, oh) you set / The world on fire / You came and gifted us / Your love it lifted us / Higher and higher.'”? Beautiful harmony and a soulful tribute fitting for two men who changed R&B music history.



Perhaps you were expecting a different tribute song? The Guinness Book Of World Records credited Elton with the all-time selling single, “Candle In The Wind” for his tribute to his friend, Princess Diana of Monaco. Incredible reworking of his 1970 classic originally written as a memory of Marilyn Monroe. The first celebrity death that personally touched me was the loss of John Lennon. Elton recorded John’s Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, they teamed up in concert, and Elton was devastated at the assassination of his dear friend. “Empty Garden” is a touching tribute that didn’t become a major hit but that wasn’t the intent. The song has healing powers and we’re all thankful for Elton’s dedication.