I was going to pay tribute to the great songwriter Nick Ashford in the column this week. Nick died last week after a battle with throat cancer. But Popdose writer Mike Heyliger wrote a fine tribute of his own last week, and there is not much more I can add. I’ll just say that Nick wrote or co-wrote some of the greatest songs of my lifetime, and his loss is immeasurable.

A couple of weeks ago I was spinning songs in the Popdose room at turntable.fm and having a chat with my colleague Chris Holmes about the song “Baby Don’t You Do It.” We were discussing the great cover of the song by the the Who on the expanded 1995 reissue of Who’s Next, a track that featured Mountain’s Leslie West on lead guitar. That inevitably led us back to recognition of the Marvin Gaye’s original version of “Baby Don’t You Do It”.

Gaye’s single came out on Tamla in 1964. He was ably backed on the Holland-Dozier-Holland written and produced song by the Funk Brothers and the female vocal group the Andantes. The release got no higher than #27 on the Billboard and Cashbox charts, but it certainly spawned some terrific cover versions.

In addition to the Who, there were covers by the Small Faces and Nicolette Larson. Fans of the Black Crowes know that the song has been a staple of that’s band live sets.

Perhaps the best known cover version was the one by the Band (under the name “Don’t Do It”) on their Rock of Ages album. The Band’s live version was released as a single in 1972 and reached #34 on the Billboard Hot 100. The Band also opened their legendary Last Waltz show with the song in 1976, but it didn’t make it onto the film’s soundtrack album.

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About the Author

Ken Shane

Ken Shane lives in Narragansett, R.I. He is a freelance writer and far and away the oldest Popdose writer. In fact, he may be the oldest writer, period. He wants you to know that he generally does not share his colleagues' love for the music of the '80s, and he does not forgive them for loving it. (Ken passed away in November 2022. R.I.P. —Ed.)

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