Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Top 10 One Hit Wonders of the 1970's

The 70's were full of musical acts that rose to meteoric fame only to never again be able to match those heights. Artists like these are referred to as 'one hit wonders'. Some of these bands stayed together for years riding the strength of their only hit. Others seemed to fall off the face of the planet. The following bands were my favorite one hit wonders of the 70's.

Debbie Boone: "You Light Up My Life"

Daughter of actor and singer Pat Boone, Debbie was the most promising young star of the 70's. Her number one hit song "You Light Up My Life" garnered her a Grammy for Song of the Year and topped the charts for ten weeks. There was even a movie with the same title and of course, featuring the song. Try as she might to get another hit, Debbie Boone became queen of the one hit wonders of the 70's.

Nazareth: "Love Hurts"

With a tight rock band sound, a great singer and an even better name, Nazareth seemed sure to be around forever. "Love Hurts" remains a rock anthem for teenage angst and the lovelorn. Nazareth has managed to eek the most out of the fame of their only major hit.

Stealers Wheel: "Stuck In the Middle With You"

This was the alternative sound of the 70's, or easy listening compared to the rock bands emerging at the time. Not quite country and definitely not hard rock, Stealers Wheel gave us their best with this catchy tune. It boasted one of the best hook lines ever, "clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am...stuck in the middle with you".

Wild Cherry: "Play That Funky Music White Boy"

Another anthem of the 70's, this song spoke to the age of disco and combined it perfectly with R&B. The hit was originally recorded as a B side, but was picked up by Epic records and garnered Wild Cherry instant success. Then came the overplay. They recorded so much music to follow up the first hit and nothing even came close. By the end of the 70's the band was dissolved.

C. W. McCall: "Convoy"

Being born and raised in Iowa helps when it comes to knowing the story of C.W. McCall and his songs. While this song was his only number one hit, he had many other local hits. The real story here is that C.W. McCall never existed. He was a made up character voiced by Bill Fries as an advertising campaign for the Old Home Bread Co. In 1976 the song "Convoy" hit number one on both the Billboard country and pop charts. It was followed by a movie of the same name.

Pilot: "Magic"

Luckily for Pilot this song has the perfect title and light music to background many movies and television shows. Rising to number five on the pop charts was the best this 70's band could muster. "Magic" has lived on in movies about the 70's like many of these singles.

Michael Murphey: "Wildfire"

One of the best story songs of the 70's is this easy listening tune from Michael Murphey. The sad story of the ghost of a girl and her pony named Wildfire. It was melancholy, but with a great hook for radio. Murphey is an award winning country artist, but this one was his pop music gem.

Terry Jacks: "Seasons In the Sun"

Released as Terry Jacks first solo single, his cover of "Seasons In the Sun" became his only hit of the decade. Jacks recorded the song shortly after the death of a good friend. You could hear the emotions in the music. The song is originally a French classic passed down from the 17th century, but it had it's golden moment in the 70's.

Randy Newman: "Short People"

Randy Newman is sarcastic, and his songs are often told from the antagonist's point of view. Some groups in the 70's mistook this song as a reflection of Newman's own feelings. While this was his only pop hit single, Randy Newman is a highly decorated singer and song writer. In fact he has become a regular at the Academy Awards with 14 nominations and one win for Best Music: Original Song in 2002.

Starlight Vocal Band: "Afternoon Delight"

I admit I had no idea what "Afternoon Delight" was about when it first hit the charts in the 70's. As I got older I realized why my mom did not want me singing the pop song as a little girl. Starlight Vocal Band had a great sound, but the fondness for the folk song sound was fizzling.

Music in the 70's was transitioning and bands were experimenting with different sounds. Keeping those sounds current on the pop charts proved to be too much for these one hit wonders of the 70's. Lucky for us, many of them will live on in movies or television about the era. You can usually catch any one of these hit songs on oldies or classic radio stations.


C.W. McCall: The Legend

"Play That Funky Music" (1976) Wild Cherry

Photo credit: By Bell Records (eBay item photo front photo back) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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