The controversial Prince-penned song “Sugar Walls” reaches #9 on Billboard magazine’s R&B Singles chart on March 2, 1985, and makes Sheena Easton the first and still only recording artist to score top-10 singles on all five major Billboard singles charts: Pop, Country, Dance, Adult Contemporary and R&B.
To be fair, this same feat might have been achieved by Elvis Presley had the Dance chart existed during his heyday. But that is not to take anything away from Easton, who in her journey from the sweet and innocent “Morning Train (9 to 5)” to the salacious “Sugar Walls” accomplished a degree of crossover success that even such notorious musical shape-shifters as Madonna, Cher and Olivia Newton-John never matched. And it is also fair to point out Elvis Presley never matched Sheena Easton’s additional feat of squeezing in a Grammy for Best Mexican-American Performance (for 1985’s “Me Gustas Tal Como Eres”). For the record, the hits that helped Sheena Easton achieve her five-way Billboard record were, in order of release: the aforementioned 1981 Pop and Adult Contemporary hit “Morning Train (9 to 5)”; the 1983 Dance hit “Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair)”; the 1983 Country hit “We’ve Got Tonight” (a duet with Kenny Rogers); and the infamous 1985 R&B hit “Sugar Walls.”
“Sugar Walls” also appeared on a very different chart in 1985: The so-called “Filthy 15” chart of the most objectionably dirty popular songs in existence, as chosen by Tipper Gore and her Parents Music Resource Council. The PMRC found the song’s unsubtle metaphors objectionable enough to give “Sugar Walls” the #2 spot on the Filthy 15, second only to Prince’s even less subtle “Darling Nikki.” In the eyes of the diverse fellow-musicians who heaped their scorn upon the PMRC (e.g., Frank Zappa, Dee Snider, Ice-T, Metallica, Sonic Youth), it is quite possible that this accomplishment earned Sheena Easton even more musical street cred than the chart record she set on this day in 1985.
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