(Pictured: Doris Troy takes five, 1969.)
(Before we begin: if you indicated interest in my e-mail thing last week, check your e-mail today for something from jb titled “Hello and Welcome to the Sidepiece.” Check your spam filter, too. It maybe knows better what’s worthwhile.)
Back on One Hit Wonder Day, my post included the top one-hit wonder in each year from 1955 through 1986. Later, I fell down a rabbit hole looking at other one-hit artists who made the Billboard Top 10 during the same period. The list follows. If a year is missing, the song shown on the other list was the only Top-10 one hitter in that year. Again, this is far longer than I like my posts to be, but insert shrug emoji here. If I missed any, I trust you’ll tell me.
“The Breeze and I”/Caterina Valente
“Cry Me a River”/Julie London
Valente was an international singing sensation who performed alongside the likes of Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and Perry Como, and is still with us today at the age of 89.
“The Happy Whistler”/Don Robertson
“Cindy Oh Cindy”/Vince Martin and the Tarriers
Robertson wrote or co-wrote some famous country songs: “I Really Don’t Want to Know,” “Please Help Me I’m Falling,” and “Ringo,” the #1 spoken-word hit by Lorne Greene. The Tarriers recorded a famous version of “The Banana Boat Song,” so “Cindy Oh Cindy” needs an asterisk.
“I’m Available”/Margie Rayburn
By the late 50s, the woods were full of lightly rockin’, coyly kittenish, come-on-and-love-me songs, of which “I’m Available” is one.
“Get a Job”/Silhouettes
“Susie Darlin'”/Robin Luke
“Chanson D’Amour”/Art and Dotty Todd
“Dinner With Drac”/John Zacherle
“One Summer Night”/Danleers
Both “Get a Job” and “Little Star” were #1 hits, but they were nosed off of my earlier list by Laurie London’s “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands.”
“Petite Fleur”/Chris Barber
“Only You”/Franck Pourcel
“Manhattan Spiritual”/Reg Owen
Chris Barber and Reg Owen were jazz players and orchestra leaders in England. Franck Pourcel was a French orchestra leader whose classy cover of “Only You” was billed, in dorky American marketing fashion, to “Franck Pourcel’s French Fiddles.”
“Mule Skinner Blues”/Fendermen
Jim Sundquist and Phil Humphrey joined up as the Fendermen at the Univerity of Wisconsin. “Mule Skinner Blues” was cut at Cuca Records in Sauk City, Wisconsin—a label whose legend looms large up here. “Yogi” is a novelty record about meeting a meditating maharishi that is annoyingly performed and kinda racist. The Little Dippers are actually the Anita Kerr Singers, so they get an asterisk.
“Al Di La”/Emilio Pericoli
“Shout! Shout! (Knock Yourself Out)”/Ernie Maresca
“Percolator (Twist)”/Billy Joe and the Checkmates
“Shout! Shout!” is probably the best-known among these, although you may recognize “Percolator.”
“Sally Go Round the Roses”/Jaynetts
“Our Winter Love”/Bill Pursell
“Just One Look”/Doris Troy
“Pipeline” and “More” remained on the radio for years after 1963. “Sally Go Round the Roses” fell out of radio fashion when girl-group music did. Bill Pursell, a composer and longtime professor of music, died of COVID in September at the age of 94.
“Midnight Mary”/Joey Powers
The original session for “Midnight Mary” was set for the night of November 22, 1963, and was to include a bunch of studio musicians including Paul Simon and Jim (Roger) McGuinn. Whether it actually happened that night or some other night I do not know, for the story is sketchy and incomplete wherever it’s told.
“You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”/The Silkie
Produced by John Lennon with Paul McCartney on guitar and George Harrison on tambourine.
“The Men in My Little Girl’s Life”/Mike Douglas
Douglas had been a radio singer and later joined up with the Kay Kyser Orchestra. After his TV talk show became a success, he restarted his singing career with a handful of albums in the middle of the 60s.
“Israelites”/Desmond Dekker and the Aces
This and “In the Year 2525” made 1969 an especially great year for one-hitters.
“Gimme Dat Ding”/Pipkins
We like “Gimme Dat Ding” around here a lot more than we should.
“What the World Needs Now Is Love-Abraham Martin and John”/Tom Clay
Two spoken-word hits recorded by famous DJs, and a demented novelty number.
“Hold Your Head Up”/Argent
“Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues”/Danny O’Keefe
Many years ago I wrote, “As I drove to work at a job I hated, on a rainy morning … ‘Good Time Charlie’s Got the Blues’ made me want to get out of the car, stand by the side of the road in the rain, and look up into the sky until I drowned. But in a good way.”
Canadian band led by future super-producer David Foster, and produced by Eirik the Norwegian, one Eirik Wangberg, who got his nickname from Paul McCartney.
“The Lord’s Prayer”/Sister Janet Mead
“The Americans”/Byron MacGregor
“Tubular Bells”/Mike Oldfield
“Life Is a Rock”/Reunion
That there are a lot of novelties or near-novelties on this list, and not just in 1974, should surprise nobody.
A summer record that synergistically blasted up the chart as Good Times went into reruns of its most successful season, and when Jimmie Walker’s “dynomite” was on the lips of every kid between the ages of eight and 15.
“Do You Wanna Make Love”/Peter McCann
“Smoke From a Distant Fire”/Sanford-Townsend Band
“Smoke” is the best thing on this whole list and whatever’s second isn’t close.
“Makin’ It”/David Naughton
Naughton starred in the sitcom for which this was the theme.
A harbinger of a lot of what was to come in the 80s, although I don’t think we credit it enough now.
“Tainted Love”/Soft Cell
“Hooked on Classics”/Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
“Tainted Love” set a record for Hot 100 longevity at the time, 43 weeks; today, it’s on the list of records I never need to hear again. Next to the Stars on 45’s medley, “Hooked on Classics” was the second-biggest hit of the medley craze.
“Almost Paradise”/Mike Reno and Ann Wilson
Loverboy and Heart and an asterisk.
“Miami Vice Theme”/Jan Hammer
“Axel F”/Harold Faltermeyer
Both of these were aced out of the earlier list by “We Are the World.”
“The Rain”/Oran “Juice” Jones
Juice invites his girl over for a romantic evening but then goes off on her for cheating on him: “You without me like cornflake without the milk! It’s my world! You just a squirrel tryin’ to get a nut!” Plus, in the video, far from bad-ass, he comes across as an enormous dweeb. Not much in the 80s was more lame than “The Rain.”