The Weather Girls ‘It’s Raining Men’ celebrates its 40th anniversary

Songwriters Paul Jabara and Paul Shaffer wrote the disco song It’s Raining Men over the course of just one afternoon in 1979.

Jabara had released records of his own and also had success penning hits for Disco Queen Donna Summer. He was behind her hits Last Dance, and No More Tears (Enough is Enough) her disco duet with Barbra Streisand.

When they offered their newest composition to Summer, she turned it down. Streisand also passed on the song, as did Cher and Diana Ross. In an interview with Vanity Fair Shaffer would recount how nobody wanted the song.

Paul Jabara called me up and said, “I’ve got a great song for Donna Summer. I want you to write the song with me.

What do you think about ‘It’s Raining Men’?” We wrote it in one afternoon. Lyrically she hated it, because she had become a born-again Christian. She thought it was blasphemous. She called Paul and said, “I hate the song. Oh, we’ve lost you.” And then she sent him a Bible the next day.

A few years passed before Jabara offered to song to duo Two Tons O Fun, who had served as backing singers to Sylvester. The duo comprised singers Martha Wash and Izora Armstead. They too had reservations about the track and considered it too over-the-top to record, but eventually they gave in and laid down the vocals.

When Martha Wash spoke to OUTinPerth in 2011 she recalled recording the song and thinking nothing would come of outrageous tune.

“When we initially recorded the song, we did it in like ninety minutes and just walked out of the studio and said, ‘okay Paul, see you later’. That’s really how we left it.” Wash recalled.

“Until months later when we started hearing it in clubs, and Paul was taking the song around to different clubs and asking the DJs to play it. So, it became a big hit in the clubs long before radio even picked up on it.”

Soon Wash and Armstead were changing the name of their act to The Weather Girls and filming a fun video to match the song. The song topped the Billboard dance chart and was nominated for as Grammy Award.

The song has had a long life though, becoming a party favourite that has filled dance floors over the decades. Some notable covers have also kept it in the public consciousness.

In 1998 Wash teamed up with RuPaul for a new version of the song, but its biggest revival came a few years later when former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell recorded a version of the track.

Halliwell’s 2001 recording of the song was the first single from her second album Scream If You Wanna Go Faster, and it was also featured in the movie Bridget Jones Diary. The video for Halliwell’s version took inspiration from another moment in pop culture, recreating a scene from the 1983 film Flashdance. 

The song is also included in the stage musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, pops up in the soundtrack for Magic Mike, and even British girl group The Nolans have laid down a version.  

Happy 40th birthday to It’s Raining Men first released on September 10th, 1982.

OIP Staff

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