The Music Lounge

The Return of Bruno

Bruce Willis, R&B singer…

brunoJanuary 20th 1987 marked the surprise release of an album by one of televisions hottest male stars, Bruce Willis. Throughout the previous year, huge audiences on both sides of the Atlantic tuned in on a regular basis to see if Maddie Hayes, played by Cybil Shepherd would succumb to the charms of her associate, David Addison (Willis) or once again snub him in Moonlighting, the TV romance of the year. The chemistry between the pair was television gold dust and for a short period the formula made up for the chaotic filming schedules which consistently missed deadlines and targets. But the executives exhausted the formula and as the plots grew evermore avant garde so the main actors looked elsewhere for artistic integrity and in the case of Willis that meant music funded by the subsequent Die Hard series.

Willis’ role as John McLane helped to see the format take a staggering $1,435,186,342 at the box office world-wide. His star was truly borne but for those of us of a certain ilk, it was his music which also required a degree of praise.

In Moonlighting we are treated to glimpses of Willis’ ear for a tune, he is an unlikely cool guy, at the time there were bigger and beefier but Willis, pre Mclane, had soul and the release of his first album, ‘The Return of Bruno’ cemented his credentials as a singer of some noteworthy ability. He could sing and play the blues and his first single, “Respect Yourself” from the album reached number five in the American Billboard charts and number seven in the UK. It’s an album deserving of a revisit, his ‘backing singers’ included The Temptations, Booker T and Ruth Pointer and his follow up single, “Under the Boardwalk” reached number two in the UK charts.

The song and the accompanying video are very much of their time, extended videos were in fashion and Willis was breathing new life into funk, soul and blues classics. It was an album and a career choice which fitted perfectly with Willis’ persona and whilst the second album failed to live up to the debut, his alter ego, Bruno will live on in the memories of those of us enjoying the late eighties and all that went with it.

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