This is one of the earliest hit disco records, charting in 1974 — along with the instrumental “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)” by NFSB featuring The Three Degrees that was used as the theme on the TV show Soul Train. “Rock the Boat” was written by trumpeter and songwriter Wally Holmes. The Hues Corporation released “Rock the Boat” first on their 1973 debut album Freedom for the Stallion. They released it as a single in 1974, backed with “All Goin’ Down Together,” and it took a while to catch on. It lacked radio airplay until DJ’s noticed it was a dance club favorite. It made people get up and move.
In 1974, “Rock the Boat” went to #1 on the U.S. billboard Hot 100, U.S. Cash Box, and in Canada. It was #6 in the U.K., #8 in New Zealand, and #18 in Australia.
The Hues Corporation was a pop and soul trio that formed in Los Angeles in 1969. The name is based on the Howard Hughes Corporation, with “hue” referring to their African-American heritage. The three members on “Rock the Boat” were St. Clair Lee, Fleming Williams, and Hubert Ann Kelley. (St. Clair Lee and Wally Holmes had been surfing buddies). Before making it big, The Hues Corporation were the opening act for the likes of Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle, Nancy Sinatra, and Glen Campbell. The Hues Corporation disbanded in 1978.