The one hit wonder- has a magical sound to it, don't it? A song by someone who's never heard from again. But what is it really, and how many are there?
Billboard defines it as someone who has never had that elusive second hit. As I have studied the subject, I have found thirty-seven acts who missed out on that second tune by 9 spots or less- two acts (the Contours and Suzi Quatro) who missed by that much three different times- and seven acts (Quatro, Paper Lace, Deodato, Janis Joplin, Richard Harris, the Contours, and Ketty Lester) who had a song stop at #41.
There are so many one hit wonders, in fact, there was no way I could do a good post off the top of my head. And how many of you would suggest someone like, say, The Knack, Manfred Mann's Earth Band, or the Strawberry Alarm Clock only to find out they DID have other top 40 hits- or worse, miss something like Barry McGuire's Eve Of Destruction because you thought it was Bob Dylan? There are 224 one-hit top tens, and 166 top fives! So I obviously had to set down a process of elimination. And a year-range; based on the birthday feature's upper end, I chose 1983 for the latest, and 1960 for the early end.
First off, I decided to cut down the list by only taking those who never hit the hot 100 again. That gave me 66 top tens, and 27 top fives. Then I looked at a couple of special cases. First, there was They're Coming To Take Me Away by Napoleon XIV- a song that hit #3 in 1966- and then charted again in 1973 at #87. Technically it was the same song, but it WAS a second charting in the hot 100, so out it goes.
Second is Tony Burrows. He was basically Edison Lighthouse, White Plains, the First Class, and the Pipkins, not to mention lead male vocal on the Brotherhood Of Man; so First Class' Beach Baby and the Pipkins' Gimme Dat Ding are also out. Finally, we have the curious case of Buckner and Garcia, who hit #9 in 1982 with Pac-Man Fever. They had previously, under a pseudonym, charted in the 80s, so I booted them as well.
One last thing I should mention- the song that really started this all in motion, Walter Egan's Magnet And Steel, doesn't make the list because Egan also hit at #s 46, 55, and 82.
So what's left is a list of songs you know and songs you don't, minus songs that you never knew they had more hits and ones that might have made it had they charted a bit higher. Ranked by chart position and year.
They what hit #10
Percolater (Twist)- Billy Joe and the Checkmates, 1962. The brainchild of one Lew Bedell, who's other claim to fame was marrying John Barrymore's daughter.
Just One Look- Doris Troy, 1963. You've heard this one on TV commercials.
Midnight Mary- Joey Powers, 1964.
You've Got To Hide Your Love Away- The Silkie, 1965. Fresh off the recent "Beatles covers" feature.
An Open Letter To My Teenage Son- Victor Lundberg, 1967. A very patient letter that ended with dad's line in the sand- "If you burn your draft card, than you may as well burn your birth certificate at the same time..."
Hooked On Classics- Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 1982. One last blast of the early eighties' medley craze.
The guys at number nine:
Forever- The Little Dippers, 1960.
Our Winter Love- Bill Pursell, 1963. Bill was Johnny Cash's pianist in the 60's.
The Israelites- Desmond Dekker, 1969. A Reggae flavored hit I remember well.
Chick-A-Boom (Don' Yew Jes Luv It)- Daddy Dewdrop, 1971. Currently appearing in the latest episodes of Time Machine.
Pop Corn- Hot Butter, 1972. Remember this instrumental from every early seventies Ronco lp?
Good Time Charlie's Got The Blues- Danny O'Keefe, 1972.
Wildflower- Skylark, 1973. Another great Canadian act.
Eres Tu- Mocedades, 1974. A Spanish act, and a song it took me years to know what they were saying (I thought it was "it is cool" or "it is true").
Rocking Chair- Gwen McRae, 1975. An early smooth-disco hit.
Junk Food Junkie- Larry Groce, 1975. Good Lord, have pity on me...
Smoke From A Distant Fire- Sanford-Townsend Band, 1977. Don't let the screen door hit you...
Cars- Gary Numan, 1980. I actually got this 45 for a birthday present.
Great at number eight:
Yogi- The Ivy Three, 1960. 3 kids from Adelphi University.
Asia Minor- Kokomo, 1961. Actually a songwriter named Jimmy Wisner.
Wild Weekend- The Rebels, 1963. A surf band from Buffalo, NY, of all places.
More- Kai Winding, 1963. Danish trombonist.
What The World Needs Now Is Love/Abraham, Martin, And John- Tom Clay, 1971. If you haven't ever heard this, you should look it up. A very real picture of the world back then.
Desiderata- Les Crane, 1971. A poem read by an announcer.
Jungle Fever- The Chakachas, 1972. A Latin soul group from Belgium.
Convention '72- The Delegates, 1972. A comedy farce on politics 1972.
Life Is A Rock- Reunion, 1974. But the radio rolls me...
Tired Of Towing The Line- Rocky Burnette, 1980. The latest of the musical Burnette family.
Tainted Love- Soft Cell, 1982. A fine example of the new wave eighties.
Let's Think About Living- Bob Luman, 1960. Had 21 top 40 country hits.
Mexico- Bob Moore Orchestra, 1961. Bassist and member of Nashville's A-Team of session musicians.
Sweet Mary- Wadsworth Mansion, 1971. It's the least they could do.
The Pick Six:
Baby Sittin' Boogie- Buzz Clifford, 1961.
Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)- Ernie Maresca, 1962. Put another dime in the record machine...
Al Di La- Emilio Pericoli, 1962. Italian language tune.
The Men In My Little Girl's Life- Mike Douglas, 1966. That's right, the talk show host.
Heaven On The Seventh Floor- Paul Nicholas, 1977. Havin' so much fun in that elevator...
And now the top fives...
Mule Skinner Blues- The Fendermen, 1960. I listened to this the other night.... boy, I dunno...
Angel Baby- Rosie and the Originals, 1961.
Party Lights- Claudine Clark, 1961. This one I remembered.
Psychotic Reaction- The Count Five, 1966. One of the first great psychedelic hits.
Hold Your Head Up- Argent, 1972. Rod Argent of the Zombies.
Do You Wanna Make Love- Peter McCann, 1977. Or do you just wanna fool around?
Makin' It- Dvaid Naughton, 1979. From the movie.
Four the turnstiles...
Sunshine- Johnathon Edwards, 1972. It went away, and took all the rest of his hits.
Americans- Byron MacGregor, 1974. Spoken word testament to all the US of A was, by a Canadian.
The Lord's Prayer- Sister Janet Mead, 1974. One of two ladies who were active nuns when they hit the pop charts.
Putting On The Ritz- Taco, 1983. A cover of a 1929 original.
Three, and in the breeze...
Popsicles, Icicles- The Murmaids, 1964. Written by David Gates, soon to be of Bread.
In The Summertime- Mungo Jerry, 1970. You got women, you got women on your mind.
The Entertainer- Marvin Hamlisch, 1974. From The Sting.
Sally Go 'Round The Roses- Jaynetts, 1963.
Fire- The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, 1968. I am the god of hellfire, and I bring you...
Dueling Banjos- Eric Weissburg and Steve Mandel, 1973. From Deliverance. Paddle faster!
Playground In My Mind- Clint Holmes, 1973. My name is Michael, I've got a nickel...
Float on- The Floaters, 1977. Not named after unflushed #2s.
And the number one songs...
Alley Oop- Hollywood Argyles, 1960. Best name that never had a band to go with it.
Dominique- The Singing Nun, 1964. Sisters weren't good with sequels, apparently.
In The Year 2525- Zager And Evans, 1969. The one song we ALL knew would be here.
TSOP- MFSB, 1974. Let's get it on... it's time to get down...
Pop Music- M, 1981. Shoobie-doobie-doo-wop....
Chariots Of Fire, Vangelis, 1983. One last instrumental.
And there you have 'em! See you Friday on the regular TM!