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“This is a milestone. It’s a great lesson in not doing anything for money. The album happened right at the end of the ‘80s, when my career, for whatever reasons, took a bit of a nosedive. I’d come off so much success, but as we were entering the ‘90s I was getting a little nervous, like, ‘Damn, I’m not hitting it out of the park like I used to.’
“When this project came along, I said to myself, ‘This is amazing. I’m just going to do this for the love of the music.’ Lo and behold, it sold seven or eight million copies and won three Grammys.
“It taught me a really good lesson. Before Unforgettable, during my down period, I did a couple of projects for money – I mean, just for the money – and I regret it. After Unforgettable, I never do anything just for the money. Anything I do now, I do it because I believe in it.
“The concept was Natalie’s, and it might have also come from Tommy LaPuma, who was one of her producers, and her husband, Andre Fisher. The three of us did seven songs each on the record. I was a little nervous about Top 40 radio at the time because I’d had a few stiffs in a row. When I committed to this, I thought, ‘I don’t have to worry about radio; I can just do it for the love of music.’
“I actually thought it would go unnoticed. However, when we did the duet with Natalie and Nat King Cole on Unforgettable, I knew there was something really special there.
“I don’t think anything like this had been done before we did it. We didn’t have the technology that we do now, so putting those voices together was a lot harder than it would be today. The tapes of Nat King Cole were in pretty good shape, and his voice was isolated on his own track. It was obvious that he was singing in the middle of the room because there was a ton of leakage on his mic.”