Good Morning. Let’s reflect some more on Diana Ross.
Continued solo career and development: 1981–1999
In October 1981, Ross released her first RCA album, Why Do Fools Fall in Love. The album sold over a million copies and featured hit singles such as her remake of the classic hit of the same name and “Mirror Mirror.” At this same approximate time, Ross established her own production company, which she named Anaid Productions (the “Anaid” being “Diana” backwards), and also started investing in real estate, while also touring extensively in the United States and abroad. Before the release of Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Ross hosted her first TV special in four years, featuring Michael Jackson in the special. In early 1982, Ross sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl XVI and appeared on the dance show Soul Train. The program devoted a full episode to her and Ross performed several songs from the Why Do Fools Fall in Love album.
In 1982, she followed up the success of Why Do Fools Fall in Love with Silk Electric, which featured a selection of Michael Jackson’s authorship, composition, and music production, “Muscles,” resulting in another top ten success for Ross. The album eventually went gold under the strength of that song. In 1983, Ross ventured further out of her earlier soul-based sound for a more pop rock oriented sound following the release of the Ross album. Though the album featured the hit single, “Pieces of Ice,” which music video garnered heavy rotation on video channel stations, except on MTV, the Ross album failed to generate any more hits and failed to go gold, dropping out of the charts as quickly as it entered. On July 21, 1983, Ross performed a concert in Central Park for a taped Showtime special. Proceeds of the concert would be donated to build a playground in the singer’s name. Midway through the beginning of the show, a torrential downpour occurred. Ross tried to keep on performing, but the severe weather required that the show be stopped. Ross urged the large crowd to exit the venue safely, promising to perform the next day. The second concert held the very next day was without rain. The funds for the playground were to be derived from sales of different items at the concert; however, all profits earned from the first concert were spent on the second. When the mainstream media discovered the exorbitant costs of the two concerts, Ross faced criticism and poor publicity. Although her representatives originally refused to pay anything for the proposed playground, Ross herself later paid, out of pocket, the $250,000 required to build the park. The Diana Ross Playground was finally built three years later. The Diana Ross Playground at 83rd and Central Park West is a beautiful assortment of wood structures and classic outdoor children’s gym obstacles making it a lovely addition to the park.
In 1984, Ross’s career spiked yet again with the release of the million-selling Swept Away. This featured a duet with Julio Iglesias, “All Of You,” which was featured on both the albums they had then released—his 1100 Bel Air Place as well as her Swept Away. It and the title selection both became international hits, as did the chart-topping ballad, “Missing You,” which was a tribute to Marvin Gaye, who had died earlier that year. Her 1985 album, Eaten Alive, found major success overseas with the title track and “Chain Reaction,” although neither of the songs became the best-sellers she was once accustomed to in America. Earlier in 1985, she appeared as part of the supergroup USA for Africa on the ‘”We Are the World”‘ charity single, which sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Ross’s 1987 follow up to Eaten Alive, Red Hot Rhythm & Blues, found less success than the prior album. In 1988, Ross chose to not renew her RCA contract. Around this same time, Ross had been in talks with her former mentor Berry Gordy to return to Motown. When she learned of Gordy’s plans to sell Motown, Ross tried advising him against the decision though he sold it to MCA Records in 1988. Following this decision, Gordy offered Ross a new contract to return to Motown with the condition that she have shares in the company as a part-owner. Ross accepted the offer.