This is part two of a series about one-hit wonders who peaked at Number 95 on the Billboard Hot 100. In this installment, we’ve got garage bands, soul singers, jazz players, and the ugliest girl in town. (To get the earlier installment of this series and posts about lower chart positions, click here.)
“Little Star”/Bobby Callender (3/23/63, two weeks on chart). “Little Star” is an innocuous little pop song that did not begin to hint at what was to come for Callender, an artist of West Indian descent. He would, in 1968, make Rainbow, an obscure but highly regarded album of Eastern-inspired psych-folk with a cast of sidemen including bassist Richard Davis, guitarists Eric Gale and Hugh McCracken, and drummer Bernard Purdie.
“Your Good Thing (Is About to End)”/Mable John (8/13/66, two weeks). The first female artist signed to a record deal by Berry Gordy (two years before he founded Motown), Mable John was also the sister of Little Willie John. When Motown abandoned its blues efforts in the early 60s, she became one of Ray Charles’ Raelettes before (and after) signing on with Stax. “Your Good Thing” became a deep-soul classic, most famously covered by Lou Rawls in 1969.
“Who Do You Love”/Woolies (3/25/67, one week). More evidence that Detroit in the 1960s was one of the most underrated music scenes in the world. “Who Do You Love” became such a smash on a regional label that it was picked up for national distribution by Dunhill. Most of the 88 surveys at ARSA listing the record are in Michigan, Ohio, or Pennsylvania, however, although the song was also a Top-10 hit in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and Swift Current, Alberta.
“It’s Not Easy”/Will-O-Bees (2/17/68, three weeks). The Will-O-Bees were a New York trio who sound like a cross between Peter Paul and Mary and the Seekers. “It’s Not Easy” was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who provided several of the songs the group cut on singles. The only other thing the Will-O-Bees are known for is recording the theme song for The Ugliest Girl in Town, a 1968 sitcom frequently recognized as one of the worst ever created.
(If you’re tempted by the Ugliest Girl link and you start poking around at Television Obscurities, you’ll find a riveting collection of essays, lists, and video clips devoted to early, historic, and/or forgotten television. I killed several hours there over the weekend.)
“Sally Had a Party”/The Flavor (9/7/68, five weeks). I’m not sure where the Flavor was from, although their fondness for cutting Motown covers (“Shop Around,” “Dancing in the Street,” “I Know I’m Losing You”) makes me guess Detroit or somewhere else in the Rust Belt. Maybe Pennsylvania, since “Sally Had a Party” was such a sizable hit in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Erie. You can hear “Sally Had a Party” and a couple of other Flavor tunes here.
“If I Only Had Time”/Nick DeCaro (1/11/69, one week). DeCaro was best known as a producer and arranger, starting with Mel Carter’s “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” in 1965, and eventually went on-staff at A&M Records, where he produced sessions for Andy Williams, the Sandpipers, and others. In 1968, he got the chance to make his own record as an orchestra leader, an album called Happy Heart, which included “If I Only Had Time.” Its relative lack of success didn’t hurt DeCaro’s career at all—in the 1970s, he worked as producer or arranger on albums by James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Diamond, George Benson, Helen Reddy, Barbra Streisand, and others.
“Only You (And You Alone)/Bobby Hatfield (3/15/1969, four weeks). Hatfield is not really a one-hit wonder, of course—his years alongside Bill Medley in the Righteous Brothers resulted in many. You can probably imagine what this sounds like, and you’ll have to.
“Too Experienced”/Eddie Lovette (6-7-69, three weeks). We may at last have hit upon an artist more obscure than Wyatt (Earp) McPherson, the poster child for this series. I can find no biographical information about Lovette except that he’s Jamaican. “Too Experienced” has a light reggae feel, a hooky refrain, and a nice bridge, and would have sounded just fine on the radio alongside everything else in the summer of 1969.
“Theme from Electric Surfboard”/Brother Jack McDuff (12/27/69, two weeks). As a certified Hammond freak, I’ve collected a ton of Jack McDuff music. He cut this particular song at least three times, and I’m pretty sure this is the charting version. In 1976, he would recut it for an album called Sophisticated Funk, which is more famous for its cover than for what’s inside it.
Next time: Bubblegum, country rock, disco, and TV stars who sing. In other words, the 1970s.
“Your Good Thing (Is About to End)”/Mable John (buy The Complete Stax/Volt Singles 1958-1968 here, because you need all of them)
“Who Do You Love”/The Woolies (out of print)