Singer/songwriter Michael Bolton emerged in the mid-'80s as a major soft rock balladeer. Originally, he recorded under his real name, Michael Bolotin, turning up on RCA Records in the mid-'70s singing cover tunes and his own blue-eyed soul songs in a voice reminiscent of Joe Cocker. He then became the lead singer of Blackjack, a heavy metal band that made two albums for Polydor before splitting up in the early '80s. Looking to relaunch his career, he changed his name to Michael Bolton and signed to Columbia Records as a solo artist in 1983.
Michael Bolton  The self-titled Michael Bolton was released in April 1983 and made the Top 100 best-sellers, as did its lead single, "Fools Game." At the same time, "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You," a ballad Bolton had co-written with Doug James, became a Top 40 hit for Laura Branigan. Nevertheless, Bolton's second album for the Columbia label, 1985's Everybody's Crazy, was a commercial flop. He finally broke into the mainstream with his third release, The Hunger, which appeared in September 1987. On this album, Bolton abandoned the hard rock sound of his previous records and concentrated on blue-eyed soul singing, both on his own songs ("That's What Love Is All About") and on covers like Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." Those two singles became his first Top 40 hits.
Soul ProviderSoul Provider, released in July 1989, turned Bolton into a certified superstar. Featuring songs co-written with hitmakers like Dianne Warren and Desmond Child, it reached the Top Ten, sold four million copies, and spawned five Top 40 singles, including Bolton's number one version of "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You," as well as the Top Ten hits "How Can We Be Lovers" and "When I'm Back on My Feet Again." "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" also won Bolton a Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Time, Love & Tenderness, released in April 1991, was even more successful, hitting number one, selling six million copies, and featuring four Top 40 hits, including a chart-topping cover of Percy Sledge's "When a Man Loves a Woman" and the Top Ten hits "Love Is a Wonderful Thing" (later the subject of a successful plagiarism suit brought against Bolton by the Isley Brothers) and "Time, Love and Tenderness." The album sold over eight million copies in America alone. Worldwide, it sold twice as much.
Timeless: The ClassicsBolton won another Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance, this time for "When a Man Loves a Woman," but he had to put up with abuse from two camps of detractors at the February 1992 ceremony. Just after Bolton had finished performing, pre-rock songwriter Irving Gordon won the Song of the Year award for "Unforgettable" and pointedly attacked songs that "scream, yell, and have a nervous breakdown" and singers who "have a hernia" when they sing. Then, backstage, Bolton faced a hostile press corps of critics unhappy with his tendency to mimic great soul singers like Redding, Ray Charles, and Sledge. Bolton suggested they apply their lips to a certain part of his anatomy. He further responded with Timeless: The Classics in September 1992, an album made up entirely of classic cover songs. It went to number one, sold three million copies, and featured a Top 40 hit in Bolton's version of the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody." Bolton's next album of original material, The One Thing, came in November 1993. It hit the Top Ten, sold three million copies, and featured the Top Ten hit "Said I Loved You...But I Lied." Bolton celebrated his decade-long string of hits with a best-of compilation, Greatest Hits 1985-1995, which debuted in the Top Ten. This Is the Time: Christmas Album appeared one year later.
Hercules [Original Soundtrack] After topping the adult contemporary charts with "Go the Distance," a song he produced and recorded for the Disney film Hercules, Bolton returned in late 1997 with All That Matters, his first album of new material since 1993's
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