Things That Bring Back Memories: Cameo – Word Up! #MondayMemories 18

Things That Bring Back Memories

For this “Things That Bring Back Memories” post, I am going to pick something pertaining to the topic of “Music“.  There are so many songs that I can remember from years ago, and since music is a huge part of our family, the memories come streaming back when you hear a certain song.

Do you ever have that tune that comes on the radio, and you can just automatically remember where you were, who you were with and what you were doing?  It amazes me, how as I get older, I can’t remember things from last week – but have that certain song come on the radio on a “Flashback” day, and “BOOM”, I am back in the place I was when I heard it.  Don’t know if it’s the side effects of my brain surgery, which they said might affect certain memory, but I’m so glad that I can remember some things of the “good old days.”

word up

So to get on with this “Things That Brings Back Memories” blog post for this week, I’m going to pick Word Up by Cameo, which was released in 1986.  If you don’t know about the song that I’m talking about, here it is:

The song Word Up is one that I still have on my MP3 player in my car.  I think no matter what your normal groove for music is, this one will always make you want to sing along and dance!  Did you ever listen to this song?  What did you think of it?

More Info on the Word Up Song:

word up

“Word Up!” is a funk and R&B song written and recorded by Cameo in 1986. Due to its heavy play on American dance and R&B radio, as well as music video play on MTV (which has LeVar Burton as a police detective trying to arrest the band), the single became the band’s best known hit.

From the album Word Up!, “Word Up!” was Cameo’s first US Top 40 hit, peaking at number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spending three weeks at number 1 on the US R&B chart[3] and one week at number 1 on the US Hot Dance Singles chart. In the UK, it spent 10 weeks in the top 40, peaking at number 3 on September 21, 1986. The song was written by Lawrence Ernest Blackmon and Thomas Michael Jenkins.

Besides being a commercial success, the track also earned critical acclaim from several publications. “Word Up!” won Cameo the Soul Train Music Award for Best R&B/Soul Single as well as the NME Award for Best Dance Record. Like the band’s previous single “Single Life”, “Word Up!” features a sample of the opening notes of Ennio Morricone’s theme to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

word up

Who remembers the song Word Up by @cameonation ? Find Out More at the #TTBBM #TigerStrypesBlog post Share on X


More Info on Cameo:

word upCameo is an American soul-influenced funk group that formed in the early 1970’s. Cameo was initially a 14-member group known as the New York City Players; this name was later changed to Cameo to avoid a lawsuit from Ohio Players, another group from that era.

As of 2009, some of the original members continue to perform together, while two others were hired by the hip hop group Outkast.  In 2015, Cameo announced a new residency show at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, opening March 2016.

In 1974, Cameo started out with 10 members created by Larry Blackmon and called the New York City Players. Signed by Casablanca Records to their Chocolate City imprint in 1976, the group soon changed its name to Cameo after concerns that New York City Players might cause confusion between them and the funk band Ohio Players. Prior to this, Blackmon, keyboardist Gregory Johnson, and the late Gwen Guthrie formed the band East Coast, together with James Wheeler (alto saxophone), Melvin Whay (bass), Michael Harris (percussion), and Haras Fyre (also known as Pat Grant) on trombone. They released one self-titled album in 1973 on the independent label Encounter.

Cameo started with a deep, funk sound, but it was obvious from the start their sights were set on the dance floor. Their first album was Cardiac Arrest. The first hit single “Rigor Mortis” was the start of Cameo’s hit-studded career; it went gold. Ugly Ego, We All Know Who We Are, and Secret Omen contained dance floor songs such as “I Just Want To Be” and “Find My Way”, the latter of which was a major disco smash and was included on the Thank God It’s Friday soundtrack.

The height of Cameo’s career was in the 1980’s, particularly Word Up! with its hits, “Word Up!” and “Candy”. The writers of “Word Up”, Cameo’s biggest hit, were Larry Ernest Blackmon (founder and front man) and Thomas Michael Jenkins (member of the group).

word up

Tomi Jenkins, who released his self-produced CD The Way in 2005, is writing and recording his follow-up EP. He is also the music supervisor/producer on the film Icemosis, the story of a 1970s fictional funk band. The film is in music production and they hope to have the film released in 2013. He is also the author of a murder mystery entitled “Crime, Love and Honor” which he is autographing and selling at concerts.

Aaron Mills continues to tour with Cameo as well as other artists. He has worked with Andre 3000 and Big Boi to record a bassline for “Ms. Jackson”.

Ex-Cameo vocalist John Kellogg became an entertainment lawyer representing such hit artists as the O’Jays, the late Gerald Levert and LSG. He also pursued a career in music industry higher education, becoming Assistant Chair of the Music Business/Management department at one of the world’s leading institutions of contemporary music, Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA.

Larry Blackmon & Tomi Jenkins recorded the next Cameo album with a tentative release scheduled for late fall 2012 or early 2013.

Gregory B. Johnson has released 2 CD’s on his own label, Allspice Record Co. “A New Hip” which is a smooth Jazz CD in 2007. “Funk Funk (Just For A Little Time)” in 2012 which is an urban funk CD.

In 2015, Cameo announced a new residency show at the Westgate Las Vegas Resort & Casino, opening March 2016.




Some Other Interesting Facts:

    • Cameo was a popular Funk band in the ’70s and ’80s. This hit fused their Funk background with elements of rap, giving them a big hit.
    • Cameo leader Larry Blackmon got the idea for the guttural vocal from Sly Stone, who is one of his heroes.
    • Korn and Melanie Brown have both recorded this. It was also part of a popular mash-up with Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.”
    • “Word Up” is a saying that was popular in New York and other urban areas in the US that acted as an affirmation of what was said, kind of a hipper “You Bet.” Cameo developed a character around the saying and wrote the lyrics about what he would say. They called the character “Vicious” and had him take out his frustrations on rappers who delve into psychodrama when they should be creating music you can dance to: “Give us music, we can that, we need to dance. We don’t need that type of psychological romance.”

      word up


Thanks for stopping by today.  Please be sure to leave a comment, if this song meant something to you, too.  Or to just let me know what you think of the story in this post! Thanks and have a great day!!  TigerStrypes claims no credit for any images used on this post, unless otherwise noted. Images in this post are copyright to their respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please email us with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed. Thanks and have a great day!!

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Jasmine - Stylish Cravings

Such an 80’s song! My parents use to blast this song back in the day!

6 years ago

This song is great! It really does sum up the 80s! I was born in 1984, so my memories of anything 80s are blurry….but I am still a fan of the era 🙂

Holly Duce
6 years ago

I definitely remembered the song when I played it but it didn’t conjure up any specific memories this time. It has a catchy beat though!

6 years ago

I had young parents, and they loved this song. I remember them playing this song alot.

Lynda Self
6 years ago

Before playing the video, I would have said that I was unfamiliar with the song. I didn’t recognize it by its name, but as soon as it started playing, I knew it.

6 years ago

Thank you for sharing! This is on my cardio playlist for walking. I love it!

Allison Cooper
Allison Cooper
6 years ago

So fun learning all this background info! What a blast from the past!

Ellen LaFleche-Christian

Thanks so much for the blast from the past! What fun!

Carlee C
7 years ago

OK that really is a classic and I will have that song in my head for the rest of the day. I don’t think I have ever watched the music video before!