-----Did you know?
When first released, "Brand New Key" was banned by some radio stations because some saw sexual innuendo in the lyrics. What do you think?
I got a brand new pair of roller skates,
You got a brand new key.
I think that we should get together and try them out, to see...
I been looking around awhile,
You got something for me
Oh! I got a brand new pair of roller skates,
You got a brand new key.
I ride my bike, I roller skate, don't drive no car,
Don't go too fast, but I go pretty far.
For somebody who don't drive
I been all around the world
Some people say I've done alright for a girl...
In the beginning...
Born Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk, Melanie grew up in the Astoria section of Queens, New York. Her first public appearance was at age four on the radio show Live Like A Millionaire, performing the song "Gimme a Little Kiss."
Melanie was a student at New York's American Academy of Dramatic Arts when she began singing in the folk clubs of Greenwich Village and signed her first recording contract with Columbia Records, then after releasing two singles, signed with Buddah Records.
She first experienced chart success in Europe with her 1969 song, "Bobo's Party," which reached Number 1 in France. Later that year, Melanie had a hit in the Netherlands with "Beautiful People," before performing at the Woodstock Festival.
The inspiration for her signature song, "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," apparently arose from the Woodstock audience lighting candles during her set. The recording became a hit in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the U.S. in 1970. Later hits included "Peace Will Come (According To Plan)" and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday."
She left Buddah Records when they insisted that she produce albums on demand. In 1971 Melanie formed her own label, Neighborhood Records, with her producer/husband Peter Schekeryk. Her next hit was "What Have They Done To My Song Ma."
Melanie had her biggest American hit on the Neighborhood label: the novelty-sounding 1972 number one "Brand New Key" (often referred to as "The Roller Skate Song"). "Brand New Key" sold over three million copies worldwide and was featured in the 1997 movie Boogie Nights.
The follow-up single to "Brand New Key" was "Ring the Living Bell." To compete with this release, Melanie's former record company released "The Nickel Song," which she had recorded while still signed to Buddah Records. Both songs were simultaneous Top 40 hits while "Brand New Key" was still on the charts — setting a record for the first female performer to have three Top 40 hits at the same time.
Melanie was awarded Billboard's #1 Top Female Vocalist for 1972. She had another Top 40 hit single in 1973 with "Bitter Bad," a song that marked a slight departure from the hippie sentiments of earlier hits (with lyrics such as "If you do me wrong I'll put your first and last name in my rock n' roll song"). Other chart hits during this period were the self-penned "Together Alone" and a cover of "Will You Love Me Tomorrow."
Melanie has been awarded two gold albums (and a gold single for "Brand New Key") and three of her compositions were hits for The New Seekers. She is also well-known for her musical adaptations of children's songs, including "Alexander Beetle" and "Christopher Robin."
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-----In 1973, Melanie started to retreat from the spotlight to begin a family. Her daughter Leilah was born that same year. When she became an official UNICEF ambassador in 1972, she agreed to forgo a world tour in favour of raising money for the organization.
In 1989, she won an Emmy Award for writing the lyrics to "The First Time I Loved Forever," the theme song for the TV series Beauty and the Beast.
Melanie's most recent album, Paled By Dimmer Light, was released in 2004. In 2007, Melanie was invited by Jarvis Cocker to perform at the Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall in London.
Her sold-out performance received critical acclaim with The Independent claiming "it was hard to disagree that Melanie has earned her place alongside Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell and Marianne Faithfull in the pantheon of iconic female singers. Meltdown was all the better for her presence."