99 Hits to Number One

For last month’s One Hit Wonder week, I dug into the archives for some artists whose lone hit peaked at Number 100 in Billboard. Because no good idea ever goes unrepeated around here, here are some one-hit wonders who peaked at Number 99. Some of these lasted a couple of weeks, but most made it for one week only before falling out of the Hot 100. I count 13 in all between 1955 and 1986, so let’s grab the first six of  ’em today and the last seven later.

“Cherry Berry Wine”/Charlie McCoy (2/27/61). McCoy, who was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame earlier this year, was at the beginning of his illustrious career as a Nashville sideman in 1961, eventually appearing on hundreds of recordings, often on harmonica. On “Cherry Berry Wine,” he’s twangin’ away on guitar and preaching the perils of drink.

“Motorcycle”/Tico & the Triumphs (1/06/62). Three high-school kids in Flushing, New York, met a slightly older guy calling himself Jerry Landis, who had made a couple of records and was looking for a group to produce. “Motorcycle” was  released under the name Tico and the Triumphs after the label that had originally contracted for it went bankrupt and sold it to another. The group developed quite a reputation as a live act around the New York area, although Landis, who had sung lead on “Motorcycle,” never performed with them. You may know Jerry Landis better by his given name: Paul Simon. More on Tico and the Triumphs is here.

“Air Travel”/Ray and Bob (6/23/62). Not to be confused with radio personalities Bob and Ray, Ray and Bob were two brothers from Los Angeles with the last name of Swayne. “Air Travel” features an R&B style vocal over a rock ‘n’ roll instrumental track.

“Don’t Stop the Wedding”/Ann Cole  (11/24/62). That Ann Cole has earned a place in history is not so much due to this record, which was recorded as an answer to Etta James’ “Stop the Wedding,”  as it is to another record: Cole was the first to cut “Got My Mojo Working.” Muddy Waters and his band learned the song from her, but Muddy didn’t know she had recorded it; his own version came out within a week of hers in 1957.  There’s more about Ann Cole here.

“Trouble I’ve Had”/Clarence Ashe (6/6/64). I can’t find much information about Clarence Ashe, although his song was later covered by Clarence Carter in a changed-up version under the title “The Few Troubles I’ve Had.” The original is the sort of deep Southern soul that was just starting to get on pop radio in 1964.

“Unless You Care”/Terry Black (12/12/64). Black was a big deal in Canada, scoring several hit singles up there, most of which were written and produced by the team of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri. The session that resulted in “Unless You Care” featured Glen Campbell on guitar, Leon Russell on organ, and Hal Blaine on drums. Black would go on to chart with his wife, Laurel Ward, so I could probably exclude him from the list on that basis, but I could exclude Paul Simon and Charlie McCoy that way too, so I’m leaving Terry in.

Next time: another prolific session man makes an appearance, and we hit the dance floor, repeatedly.

“Don’t Stop the Wedding”/Ann Cole (out of print)
“Trouble I’ve Had”/Clarence Ashe (lo-fi mp3; buy it here along with other soul obscurities)

One thought on “99 Hits to Number One

  1. porky

    I love checking out the “wrong end” of the charts. I have friends and aunts and uncles who were in high school when these songs charted and they tell me that LOTS of these got airplay. “Motorcycle” and another Landis tune “Lone Teen Ranger” were aired in central Illinois. This lays waste to the theory that rock and roll was dead after 1959. It just went further underground. Most of the British Invasion groups were trolling this end of the chart for material as well.

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