(Pictured: Morris Albert, who looks satisfied with having had just the one big hit.)
September 25 is One Hit Wonder Day. We’ve written about it on and off over the years, whenever I remember to. A variation I find interesting is “One Hit Wonders Who Aren’t, Actually.” There are a number of ways to determine this. You can be an absolutist and say that if an artist made the Hot 100 one other time, you can’t call them a one-hit wonder. You can be a little less dogmatic and draw the line at one Billboard Top 40 hit. You can stick to the Hot 100 only, or you can look at other charts. This post contains a little bit of all three.
—Morris Albert, whose “Feelings” was climbing during this week in 1975, is one of the quintessential one-hit acts. Or he would be, if he hadn’t hit the Hot 100 a second time. After “Feelings” went to #6, “Sweet Loving Man” had a 15-week run on the adult contemporary chart and two weeks on the Hot 100 as January turned to February 1976, topping out at #93. “Sweet Loving Man” is livelier than “Feelings” and would have sounded OK next to the other stuff on the radio at the time.
—The only Debby Boone record anybody knows is “You Light Up My Life,” which was blasting up the charts 40 years ago this week on its way to a record-setting streak at #1. But she hit the Hot 100 two more times and the AC chart eight times between 1977 and 1981. “Are You on the Road to Lovin’ Me Again” was a #1 country hit in 1980, and is quite the dollop of processed cheese.
—Guess Who lead singer Burton Cummings embarked on a solo career with the Top 10 hit “Stand Tall” as 1976 turned to 1977. But he wasn’t done. “I’m Scared,” a pop tune with a religious edge that doesn’t fit him at all, went only to #61 on the Hot 100 but #10 on the AC chart as the followup to “Stand Tall.” The far-superior “You Saved My Soul” spent a couple of weeks in the pop Top 40 in the fall of 1981.
—One of our favorite one-hit wonders is Liz Damon’s Orient Express, a group from Hawaii remembered for the hypnotic “1900 Yesterday” at the end of 1970. Although it didn’t make the Hot 100, “Loneliness Remembers (What Happiness Forgets)” spent a month on the AC chart early in 1972.
—Deodato scored in the spring of 1973 with “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” a jazz-rock instrumental version of the 2001: A Space Odyssey theme. He just missed the Top 40 with a version of Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” which stalled at #41 during the week of September 29, 1973.
—If you are of a certain age, the Doodletown Pipers might spark a tiny glimmer of recognition. They were a made-for-TV vocal group that started with 30 members, was pared to 20, and eventually to nine. According to a very sketchy Wikipedia article (so who the hell knows), they were recruited by entertainment moguls Jerry Weintraub and Bernie Brillstein (among others), and they first appeared on The Red Skelton Show in 1965. The group was a fixture of TV variety shows and the nightclub circuit well into the 70s. In the summer of 1967, they were among the stars of a summer replacement TV show called Our Place, produced by Ed Sullivan Productions, which co-starred the comedy team of Burns and Schreiber and Rowlf, one of the Muppets. That same year, the Pipers’ lone hit song, a cover of Chad and Jeremy’s “A Summer Song” (which is not available at YouTube) hit #29 on the AC chart without cracking the Hot 100. Two former members became halfway famous outside the group: Teresa Graves, who ended the 60s as a Laugh-In regular and starred in the crime drama Get Christie Love! in 1974; and Jim Gilstrap, a session singer who performed on, well, everything.
And that, my friends, is almost certainly far more than you care to know about the Doodletown Pipers.
If this blog ever needed a second tag line, “Far more than you care to know about” would be good.