November 1978: Ambrosia Peak at #3 on the Hot 100 with HOW MUCH I FEEL
When it came time for Ambrosia to record its third album, the L.A. prog-rock outfit was at a crossroads. Their first two albums hadn't really done much in the pop realm, and they knew it was time for a change. That led to the group's third LP, Life Beyond L.A. Prog-rock complexities gave way to easy melodies and R&B song structures. This was most apparent on the album's lead single, "How Much I Feel."
"That song was a detour for us," admitted drummer Burleigh Drummond in a 2018 interview. "We were a progressive rock band. FM stations loved us. While we were making the album at Mama Jo's recording studio in North Hollywood, one block away was a bar that we would play at called Hialeah. The people there wanted us to play R&B. We would do four to five sets a night and I guess you become what you play. 'How Much I Feel' is an R&B ballad. We were also playing a bit with Michael McDonald at the time. We felt like we could do anything musically."
Indeed, as "How Much I Feel" was a massive hit at radio and on the charts, rising up the Hot 100 to peak at #3 for the week of November 18, 1978. The track maintained the #3 position for three straight weeks.
"Our keyboard player had a breakdown during the first Warner Bros. Record (Life Beyond L.A.), so we become a threesome," Ambrosia's David Pack revealed back in 2001, referencing musician Christopher North. "That wounded the band for sure. I think however, that we badly needed to prove that we could, like the Beatles, write timeless hit records. From that 3rd LP came our first #1 pop hit, and finally we became a headline attraction. That song, 'How Much I Feel,' has won BMI 2 million airplay award in America. We didn't do it on purpose, stop making progressive music," Pack added. "We just worked with the best songs we had at the time. The title track from the same album was a #1 FM radio college airplay favorite, so we had good fortune with both sides."