During the summer of 1973 Cameroon-born saxophonist Manu Dibango's Soul Makossa became the first "disco" record to enter the top 40 of Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart (peaking at #33). A song with African rhythms and tribal incantations ("ma-ma-ma-sa, ma-ma-ma-kosa"), its mainstream success was a bit of suprise. Since then a long list of artists have sampled parts of the song, the most popular being Michael Jackson's Wanna be Starting Somethin' and Rihanna's Don't Stop the Music.
A year passed before disco songs began appearing regularly on top-40 radio playlists. For the most part they had a more accessible "pop" feel than Makossa - Gloria Gaynor's Never Can Say Goodbye; Rock the Boat by Hues Corportation; KC & the Sunshine Band's That's the Way I Like It; and Vicki Sue Robinson's Turn the Beat Around.
These mainstream dance hits were popular in gay clubs as well, but there was a list of "parallel" hits that never made it beyond gay circles, making them even more cherished - songs like Cocomotion, Spank, Puff of Smoke, I Need a Man, Hot Shot, and Hold on to My Love.
Click here for a more in-depth account of Soul Makossa and its place in the disco-dancing pantheon.