Love Me Baby: 45th anniversary of Sheila & B. Devotion's 1977 international summer hit!
Dernière mise à jour : 10 sept. 2022
Photo by Josette Douveneau
Among the label mates of the Luv' ladies at Carrere Records during their heyday was French singer Sheila (who fronted the disco group Sheila & B. Devotion between 1977 and 1980).
This summer, the legendary chanteuse celebrates the 45th anniversary of her international breakthrough hit "Love Me Baby". Here's the story of this iconic single.
May - June 1977: Love Me Baby's anonymous release
Sheila (born Annie Chancel in Créteil, France on August 16th, 1945) scored numerous hits in her homeland during the 1960s and the 1970s. Among her chart-toppers were "L'École est Finie" (1963), "Vous les Copains" (the French cover version of Manfred Mann's "Do Wah Diddy Diddy" in 1964), "Petite Fille de Français Moyens" (1968) and "Les Rois Mages" (the cover of "Tweedle Dee Tweedle Dum" originally performed by Middle of the Road in 1971). Her success helped her producer Claude Carrere to launch his own record company in 1967. The Yé-yé artist was initially presented as a girl next door.
In 1976, she recorded a French version of "Patrick, Mon Chéri" (originally sung by Dutch duo Kiki & Pearly and produced by Will Hoebee (who later married Luv' singer José) and Peter Koelewijn. Sheila's rendition of this song reached the Top 5 in France, sold 400.000 copies and turned gold.
Sheila's gold record for "Patrick, mon chéri"
Will Hoebee and Sheila backstage at ZDF's New Year Eve's show "Jetz geht die Party richtig los!" in December 1979
In the meantime, Disco music conquered the record charts around the world. As a trendy artist who targeted a large public, Sheila showed an interest in this genre. She successfully covered two Disco classics in French in 1975: "Doctor's orders" (made famous by Carol Douglas) which became "C'est le cœur (Les ordres du docteur)" and "I'm on fire" by 5000 Volts which became "Quel tempérament de feu". The two covers peaked at #2 on the French hit parade. "C'est le coeur" sold 400.000 copies. "Quel Tempérament de feu" sold 500.000 copies and was certified gold in France.
Due to his collaboration with the German record company Hansa and the distribution of Boney M.'s records in France by his label, Claude Carrère wanted to launch a disco group. Songwriter and orchestrator Mathias Camison wrote a disco-salsa track entitled "Touch me baby" with lyrics by Pamela Forrest and Gilbert Chemouny. A black American session singer initially recorded the demo. Sheila accepted to perform the definitive version of the song. Pamela Forrest rewrote the lyrics to adapt them to her and the song was renamed "Love Me baby". It was decided to add three black English-speaking dancers (Dany Mac Farlane, Freddy Stracham and Arthur Wilkins) for TV and stage performances.
Sheila & B. Devotion
The songstress completely changed her public image with this disco project. She attempted to convey a more mature style in her music and after fifteen years of success in France, she wanted to be popular abroad with material in English.
Because Carrere did not want to shock Sheila's public and the French media, the debut single of the group ("Love Me Baby") was released anonymously in May 1977 in France. The first pressings of the record mentioned the obscure name of S.B Devotion. The songwriters used pseudonyms to make it more mysterious: Paul Racer (Claude Carrère), Mike Wickfield (Mathias Camison), Gilbert Chemouny (Copperman) and Pamela Forrest (P Forest).
On May 24th, 1977, "Love Me Baby" got airplay on French stations RTL, Europe 1 and RMC. The song was an instant radio and club hit. The identity of the group was rapidly revealed and the quartet was officially named "Sheila B. Devotion" (which later changed into Sheila & B. Devotion).
Love Me Baby by S.B. Devotion (first pressing)
Love Me Baby by Sheila B. Devotion (second pressing after the group's identity was revealed)
International triumph (1977 - 1978)
"Love Me Baby" sold 643.000 copies in France, and thus turned gold. It later became a mainstream hit in Continental Europe and beyond thanks to an effective promotion in the media.
Here are the record's peak positions on the charts:
#11 on the TROS Europarade (Europe)
#3 on the SNEP Singles Chart (France)
#13 on the Promusicae singles chart (Spain)
#3 on the Superclassifica Singoli chart (Italy)
#9 on the Musikmarkt/Media Control charts (Germany)
#14 on the Flemish Ultratop single chart (Belgium)
#1 on Wallonia's Ultratop single chart (Belgium)
#19 on the Nationale Hitparade (Netherlands)
#24 on the Dutch Top 40 (Netherlands)
#7 on Radio Télévision Suisse Romande singles chart (Romandy, Switzerland)
# 23 on the Schweizer Hitparade (Switzerland)
#1 on Hey's singles chart (Turkey)
#5 on the Musica e Som singles chart (Portugal)
#10 on Pop & Magazine singles charts (Greece)
#5 on Palmarès de la chanson (Québec, Canada)
#16 on the Weekly foreign singles chart (Israel)
"Love me baby" was the beginning of Sheila's international career which lasted more than four years. After this prosperous phase, the former yé-yé girl returned to France to focus on the domestic music market definitively in Spring 1982. She performed "Love Me Baby" several times, live on stage during her tours.
In 1998, Sheila made a successful comeback. She re-recorded her classic hits (including "Love Me baby") for an album entitled "Le Meilleur de Sheila" which sold 100.000 copies in France and earned a gold certification.
Love Me Baby (1998 version)
Love Me Baby: TV performances (1977 - 1979)
June 16th, 1977: Un Taxi dans Rome on Antenne 2 (France)
June 19th, 1977: Les Rendez-Vous du Dimanche on TF1 (France)
June 26th, 1977: Ces messieurs nous disent : Monsieur Cinéma, Monsieur Chanson, Monsieur Théâtre on Antenne 2 (France)
June 29th, 1977: Midi Première on TF1 (France)
July 8th and 9th, 1977: Midi Première on TF1 (France) and Esta Noche… Fiesta ! on RTVE (Spain)
July 13th, 1977: Un sur Cinq on Antenne 2
July 14th, 1977: La Bastille en Chantant on Antenne 2 (France) and Roger-Pierre Raconte on TF1 (France)
September 18th, 1977: Les Rendez-Vous du Dimanche on TF1
Unknown broadcast date: Chansons à la carte on RTBF (Belgium)
October 1st, 1977: 13è Mostra Internazionale di Musica Leggera Venezia on RAI (Italy)
October 8th, 1977: Musikladen on Radio Bremen (Germany)
October 19th and 20th, 1977: Piccolo Slam on RAI (Italy)
October 28th, 1977: Discoteca Teen on RAI (Italy)
November 5th, 1977: AVRO's TopPop on AVRO (Netherlands)
December 3rd, 1977: Noi… No ! on RAI (Italy)
December 8th, 1977: Plattenküche on WDR (Germany)
December 12th, 1977: Midi Première on TF1 (France)
January 2nd, 1978: Midi Première on TF1 (France)
April 4th, 1978: Tutto Quanto Fa Spettacolo on RAI 2 (Italy)
December 18th, 1978: Christmas Snowtime Special on BBC (United Kingdom)
April 26th and 27th, 1979: Midi Première on TF1 (France)
May 8th, 1979: Top Club on Antenne 2 (France)
Source: Sheila Officiel, Sheila - On dit... (blog), artisteschartsventes.blogspot.com, YouTube, Discogs...