June 1986: Chaka Khan Releases DESTINY

Monday, June 14, 2021

By the mid-1980s, Chaka Khan was on top of the musical world as a solo act. The multi-talented multi-instrumentalist had been doing double-duty at the helm of the band Rufus, which she'd helped launch in the early '70s. Khan's superstar status was more than established with 1984 full-length, I Feel for You, featuring the Prince-penned title track that hit #3 on the Hot 100.

When it came time for Khan to record her next album, the recent flush of success gave the artist leeway to take some big swings. First up was lead single, "Love of a Lifetime," released January 1986. The track was co-written by Green Garthside of UK act Scritti Politti, who'd rocked the music world with the band's 1985 LP, Cupid & Psyche 85. Full of similar electronic flourishes and rhythms as Scritti Politti, the upbeat tune make a formidable chart run, peaking at #53 over the week of August 9, 1986. The top tune in the country that week: Peter Cetera's "Glory of Love (Theme from "The Karate Kid Part II"). Over on the Dance Club Songs chart, it peaked at #11.

Khan's next single: "Tight Fit," a sensuous, mid-tempo tune idea for the "quiet storm" hours. The track grooved all the way to #28 on Billboard's Hot R&B Songs chart for the week of December 13, 1986. The chart's top song: Ready for the World's "Love You Down."

Destiny was much more than a vehicle for singles. Chaka Khan's star power pulled in a slew of big-name special guests, including Phil Collins, who manned the drums for rock-oriented album track, "Watching the World." The track also boasts multi-Grammy-winning saxophonist, Michael Brecker. Even more Genesis vibes can be found on dramatic "The Other Side of the World," which counts Mike Rutherford as one of its two songwriters. The track found an audience on soundtrack of 1985 movie, White Nights, starring Gregory Hines and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

Released on June 14, 1986, Destiny cruised to a peak position of #67 on the Hot 100 for the week of September 13, 1986. Over on the Hot R&B Albums chart, it reached #24 for the week of September 6, 1986. In contrast, the most popular R&B LP in America that week: Run-DMC's Raising Hell.

"More airplay would have helped," Khan told the L.A. Times in November 1986. "But it's hard to say why the album and single didn't get the airplay they needed. I don't want to blame anybody.

"Things don't throw me like they used to," Khan continued. "I'm not superwoman. I get hurt and upset and mad and down just like everybody else. But when bad things happen, it doesn't seem like the end of the world anymore. I don't run and hide as much as I used to. I try to cope, like a grown-up. I'm 33, not 13. I try to act like it, too."