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Sheriff - When I'm With You (1983)

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  • 80's Score 80's score: 1.2
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"When I'm with You" is a power ballad by Canadian arena rock band Sheriff. The song was released in January 1983 in Canada as ...

"When I'm with You" is a power ballad by Canadian arena rock band Sheriff. The song was released in January 1983 in Canada as the second single from their self-titled debut album. A top-ten hit in Canada in 1983 (and a minor US hit at the same time), the song later reached number one in the United States in 1989, four years after the band separated in 1985. This song is also notable that it was one of the few number-one hits not to have a promotional video during the MTV era.

Since its rerelease and #1 position, the song has been included on Monster Ballads and other 80's-themed compilations, as well as the soundtrack to the 2001 David Spade comedy film Joe Dirt.

Composition and inspiration

Sheriff's keyboardist Arnold Lanni wrote the song after meeting Valeri Brown and falling in love with her. 'I sat down, put my coffee on the piano, tinkled some ivories, and four minutes later 80 percent of the song was written. On Valentine's Day I played the song for Valerie and said, "I don't have anything, this is all I can give you right now. It's yours." Valeri loved the song; two years later she married me.'

Lanni also played the song to his bandmates in Sheriff. "The band really liked it, so we started playing it live. That was one of the last songs we recorded when we did the record. The producer said, 'Is there anything else?' I said, 'There's this song we play, it's kind of a wimpy song.' So we played it for him and he said 'Yeah, that's kind of nice.'"

Chart performance

"When I'm with You" was originally released as the third single off Sheriff's debut album. The song reached number eight on the RPM chart in the band's native Canada, where it was their biggest hit. In the US, it entered the Billboard Hot 100 on 14 May 1983 and peaked at number 61 four weeks later. Sometime thereafter, disappointed and frustrated by their continued lack of international success, the band broke up.

In November 1988, Brian Philips, Program Director at KDWB in Minneapolis, and WKTI in Milwaukee began playing the song, and eventually other radio stations nationally followed suit. This encouraged Capitol Records to re-release the song as a single; the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 on 26 November 1988. On 4 February 1989, the song reached number one in the United States, making them the first Canadian band since Bachman Turner Overdrive did so with "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" in November 1974.

By that time, former Sheriff members Lanni and bassist Wolf Hassell had formed a duo named Frozen Ghost, and declined to re-form the group. Sheriff's lead vocalist Freddy Curci and guitarist Steve DeMarchi, who had both been working as couriers in the interim, subsequently formed the band Alias and charted the following year with the number-two hit "More Than Words Can Say".

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