The phenomenal 1970s success of Barry White brought him a run of huge singles and a presence that would continue on the R&B chart for many years to come. But on 20 August 1977, he entered the Billboard Hot 100 with ‘It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me’. It would prove to be his last top ten pop crossover hit — and would later play a big part in the career of British pop hero Robbie Williams.
The song was an unusual entry in White’s story because although he produced it, as usual, it wasn’t one of his own. The steamy track was written by Nelson Pigford and Ekundayo Paris and released as the first single from White’s seventh studio album Barry White Sings For Someone You Love, which was about to be released.
The song proved to be a winner with both soul and pop audiences, staying true to Barry’s bedroom soul style but updating it for the disco era. It entered the pop countdown at No. 86 and, after a slow start, spent two weeks at No. 4 in November, as Debby Boone continued her (then) record-breaking ten-week stint at the top with the ballad ‘You Light Up My Life.’ By then, ‘It’s Ecstasy’ had become Barry’s longest-running R&B chart-topper, with a five-week run at No. 1 all through October.
23 years later, in 2000, Williams and his producers Guy Chambers and Steve Power used the string arrangement from ‘It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me’ as a prominent sample to underpin Robbie’s latest hit, ‘Rock DJ.’ He wasn’t the first latter-day star to spot its potential: Mary J. Blige also sampled ‘Ecstasy’ in ‘You Bring Me Joy,’ a track from her 1994 album My Life.
‘It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me’ is on Barry White Sings For Someone You Love, which can be bought here.