In 1981, Chuck Brimley went into Star Studios in Milwaukee Wisconsin to record one of several country songs he had written, but emerged with an entirely different recording than intended - a cover of Michael Frank’s 1975 AOR album-only cut “St. Elmo’s Fire.” The country songs he brought to the session weren’t working, when the engineer suggested covering “St. Elmo’s Fire.” Brimley had one pass at guitars and vocals and the session was wrapped up in less than 30 minutes.
The recording was oddly pressed as a 10” record, because of a cheaper bulk deal, in a quantity of 450 despite only being a two-sided single. The fate of Brimley’s records laid in the hands of a friend and fellow musician who took the bulk of the 10” pressing, 400 copies, to Europe for distribution and promotion and two days later died of an overdose abroad. The records disappeared and Chuck never heard from his friend again. The local record store which had the only display of “St. Elmo’s Fire” sold the remaining 50 copies of the pressing, while the rest of the records vanished completely.
Brimley had always hoped the song would have been more, from having second takes, full orchestration, better pressing and distribution, but had to settle for how far his $200 could get him in the studio. Brimley, like most, was trying to do the best he could with everything available, what emerged was the unintended but exceptional cover song we have today, “St. Elmo’s Fire.”
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