“Come Flick My BIC”

 

HISTORY page 4

Rodger Troutman

Talkbox & Guitar

SUN at the BIC Lighter and Pen Corporation

BIC manufactured limited edition, promotional gold-plated lighters with the SUN logo that were sent to DJs.

 

"Wanna Make Love (Come Flick My BIC)"

SUN were Half-Time Guest at the Superdome

The Texas A&M Marching Band Played 'Wanna Make Love (Come Flick My BIC)" on the marching field.

As the first single from the debut LP, Live On, Dream On (1976), “Wanna make Love” became SUN first hit, peaking at #31 on Billboard’s R&B chart. It was subtitled “Come Flick My BIC” because of a racy, closing vamp hook which incorporated the catchy slogan used by the BIC Pen Corporation for it’s line of cigarette lighters. “That was a pure gimmick,” Byron confesses. BIC even manufactured some limited edition, promotional gold-plated lighters with the SUN logo that were sent to DJs. Of the song in general, Byron concludes, “When I wrote it, I was trying to prove a point. I knew I could get a song on the charts by taking ingredients from different songs and plotting out the market. The bassline was like something the Ohio Players would do. Other bits were like th Commodores and Kool & The Gang.”

 

The entire album was eventually renamed after it when the original cover art was changed from a generic sunburst to a literally steaming photo of black Playboy playmate, Azizi Johara. Other standouts from the album were Byron’s uplifting opener “Live On, Dream On” and short-lived member Chris Jones’ sprawling and prophetic crowd-pleaser, “They’re Calling For More.” “There was a lot of positiveness in songs by the band then, “ Byron reflects. “We picked up on those vibes during the early days, like all musicians do, and reflected it in our music as well.”

 

With a hit on his hands, Byron was forced to let go of the last of his outside musical activities: road manager for the Commodores (under Benny Ashburn). “I’ll never forget it,” Byron said. “Johnnie Taylor’s ‘Disco Lady’ was #2 in L.A. and ‘Wanna Make Love was #1. I was still working at Poinsettia studios, helping the Commodores. They couldn’t believe what was happening with SUN. They’d worked so long (five years) before they got a hit. We got our’s the first time out.”

 

With the release of their second album, Sun Power (pressed on orange vinyl in 1977), SUN sprang into a ten-piece configuration of multi-instrumentalists and vocalists that consisted of Byron Byrd, John Hampton Wagner, Christopher D. Jones, Hollis Melson, Dean Hummons, Kym Yancey, Shawn Sandridge, Bruce Hastell, Gary King and Ernie Knisley. The album also contained the though-provoking “Conscience,” the dramatic "Time Is Passing,” (with strings arranged by Byron), plus the driving instrumental “We’re So Hot,” which was used in many sports telecasts.

 

A sizable overhaul in the band occurred before the release of it’s third album, Sunburn (!978), recorded in Cyberteknics Recording Studio in Dayton. Half of the band, unhappy with the musical direction of Sun, were dismissed by Fleming. Led by Shawn Sandridge and Chris Jones (who, together, were initially Magum), those six members resurfaced as the band Dayton, recording three albums. Their highest charting single was a 1982 remake of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Hot Fun In The Summertime.”

 

Five new members were welcomed aboard the “Sunship”: guitarist Keith Cheatham, keyboardist Sonnie Talbert, bassist Curtis Hooks, and brass men Nigel Boulton and Robert Arnold. This was one of the best units in Sun’s history, particularly with Cheatham who was a strong vocalist, player and writer. On Sunburn, he continued the tight and classy “Dance (Do What You Wanna Do)” and co-wrote the turntable hit love ballad, “I Had a Choice,” a slow dance classic (dig the dreamy sax and keyboards). The smash of the album, however was “Sun Is Here,” the slammin, chant that could revive a party under any circumstance! The Yancey-Byrd concoction was their highest charting single ever, peaking at *18 R&B, helping make this album a RIAA certified gold-seller. It became their official theme and kicked-off most Sun shows with a big bang from this point on. Major tours followed, including dates with label mates Tavares, Peabo Bryson, Maze, The Sylvers and Ms. Natalie Cole.