Era Inducted To: Modern Era
Lyricist(s):Rossano (Ross) Francesco Vannelli
Composer(s):Rossano (Ross) Francesco Vannelli
The soulful soft-rock ballad I Just Wanna Stop was a co-operative effort of three Italian-Canadian brothers from Montreal. Written by Ross Vannelli, sung by older brother Gino, and produced and arranged by Ross, Gino and brother Joe, the song made it to No. 1 in Canada. The Vannellis’ success story began when their father, a big band singer, introduced his sons to jazz, Latin, opera, and big band recordings. The boys eventually formed their own band, their first taste of success coming with Gino’s People Gotta Move in 1974.
Gino and Joe moved to Los Angeles, where they recorded Ross’s I Just Wanna Stop for their appropriately-named 1978 “Brother to Brother” album (SP 4722) for A&M. Gino declared that the first time he heard Ross play it, “It just sounded like a hit to me and I started working it with the band.”
I Just Wanna Stop is about a man reflecting longingly upon a past love. Backing singers and a plaintive saxophone break lend a bluesy feel; Gino told an interviewer, “When the back vocals were done…everyone realized that it could be a big hit, because it had that vibe to it, that spark to it.”
A&M released I Just Wanna Stop as a 45 rpm single (AM 2072) with Gino’s The Surest Things Can Change on the reverse. A cover photo of Gino with long curly dark hair walking barefoot on a beach, made young women’s hearts throb.
I Just Wanna Stop debuted at No. 87 on the Billboard charts September 9, 1978, peaking late November at No. 4 on the Adult Contemporary chart and achieving the same ranking on the Hot 100 Singles chart December 9. Meanwhile, in Canada, the single rose to the coveted No. 1 spot on the RPM Top 100 Singles chart at the end of December and to No. 6 on the CHUM chart, competing against disco artists such as Donna Summer and Village People, and pop-rock star Billy Joel. The song earned Gino the male vocalist of the year Juno award, and a Grammy nomination for best pop male vocalist (which he lost to Barry Manilow).
“Brother to Brother” won Gino, Ross and Joe the Juno for producer of the year and, with runaway sales of over 1,000,000 copies by 1979, cemented Gino’s international reputation as a pop sex symbol. He took I Just Wanna Stop on tour in 1979 including Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, and New York City (where he played Carnegie Hall), and to Toronto and the brothers’ hometown, Montreal. Due to the song’s popularity among Black audiences, Gino was also invited to perform it on the American television show “Soul Train.”
Since then, I Just Wanna Stop has enjoyed millions of radio plays, earning a BMI award and the No. 16 spot on RPM’s Top 100 CanCon Tracks 1964-1996. It appears on “Oh What a Feeling: A Vital Collection of Canadian Music” and in the 2009 television documentary, “This Beat Goes On: Canadian Pop Music in the 1970s.” It is heard on the compilation CD “Behind Closed Doors: Seventies Swingers” and was even used on the TV show “The Sopranos.” In 2017 it appears on Universal Music Canada’s “Canada 150: A Celebration of Music.”
The song gained new life in a new arrangement on Gino’s 2009 CD, “Best and Beyond,” and also features on his “Stardust in the Sand” and “Live in LA.” He continues to perform it live.
Funk, electronic, and soul covers have been recorded. Gino advises their singers, “Think of moments when you felt a little hurt, when you had to leave somebody, leave something behind; when you’re wistfully thinking of something and feeling regret, and that’s gonna bring some real human passion to it.”
Ross Vannelli, born in Montreal in March 1956, is a successful songwriter and music producer with almost 300 songs to his credit. In addition to his Juno award, he holds an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award and a Grammy nomination. His Surrender to Me, from the motion picture “Tequila Sunrise,” earned a BMI award. Ross Vannelli’s music has been recorded by top artists including Kim Carnes; Céline Dion; Earth, Wind and Fire; Lara Fabian; and Kanye West.