In 1983, we witnessed one of the biggest collaborations in the music industry. It was when American country star Kenny Rogers teamed up with Scottish pop star Sheena Easton to record “We’ve Got Tonight.”
Both Easton and Rogers were on the roster of EMI America-Liberty Records. Their collaboration on “We’ve Got Tonight” was firmly suggested by the label chairman, Larry Mazza, who was hoping to restore Easton to chart ascendancy.
Rogers personally called Easton to pitch their duet on December 23, 1982. “I liked the idea of recording with Sheena. I thought the contrast in styles–I’m so throaty, and she’s so trained and pure–would really work well,” he said. And finally, on Christmas Eve, the two singers rehearsed the song with a piano. After the ten-day recording session, “We’ve Got Tonight” was released, and it soared up high in the charts.
It became a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Country Singles chart and reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop Singles chart and No. 2 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. It even reached the top 30 in the United Kingdom.
And as it was hoped for, “We’ve Got Tonight” helped Easton earn a unique distinction and mounted a successful career on Billboard’s charts. In March 1985, Billboard Magazine presented her with a special award, honoring her as the first artist to crack the Top Five on the publication’s pop, country, adult contemporary, dance, and black music charts.
Rogers died on March 20 at age 81. “It was a privilege to work with Kenny,” Easton told Billboard. “His voice was unique, and his talent made every note seem effortless. I learned so much just watching him work, and I will be forever grateful that he touched my life and made it better. He will be missed.”
Did You Know “We’ve Got Tonight” Started Out As A Rock Song?
“We’ve Got Tonight” was written by American rock music artist Bob Seger from his 1978 album Stranger in Town. The song was actually developed from an earlier song that he had written titled “This Old House,” which featured the same chords but a slightly different melody.
Seger overhauled “This Old House” into “We’ve Got Tonite” the day after seeing the 1973 film, The Sting, which featured a conversation between Robert Redford’s character and a woman he’s attracted to played by Dimitra Arliss. Arliss said: “I don’t even know you,” to which Redford responded: “You know me. It’s two in the morning, and I don’t know nobody.” This particular scene caused an emotional response in Seger to overhaul the song lyrics.
“We’ve Got Tonite” was not recorded until the 1976 sessions for Seger’s album Night Moves. However, it was held off as Seger felt it was not fit for the album’s theme. Finally, “We’ve Got Tonite” served as the third single for Seger’s album Stranger in Town. The single record charted twice for Seger.
ASCAP honored the song as the Most Performed Country Song of 1983 after it was rebranded as a Country & Western song, thanks to Rogers and Easton duet. Seger personally acknowledged the honor by attending the October 1984 ASCAP Country Music Awards event held at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.
Several other big artists also released their own versions. Dottie West remade “We’ve Got Tonight” for her album “Special Delivery,” and Conway Twitty also cut it for his “Heart And Soul.” In 2002, we heard another incredible duet, thanks to Ronan Keating and Scottish singer Lulu’s rendition.
But guess we can all agree that what Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton did was absolutely iconic, watch one of their most remarkable performances of “We’ve Got Tonight” in the video below.