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One-Hit Wonders

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For many aspiring singers and bands, the one-off hit can be a bitter-sweet affair. A really big hit can transform lives in uplifting, positive (and financially rewarding) ways. New careers, exciting opportunities and a Rock & Roll pension can follow.

And if the hope of finding a successful follow-up becomes an elusive phantom, there is always solace in the sense of achievement. Many one hit wonders will answer their critics defiantly; “Well at least I had one more hit than you!”.

Many argue that pop/rock music is more about merit than market forces. But the big question is; “Do people find themselves whistling the song?”. If the answer is yes then you can bet staff will be working overtime at record companies all over the world while the artist eagerly prays their song will be #1.

But what strange alchemy transmutes one record into pure gold while so many others flop? Strangely, artists always seem to know when they have recorded such a gem. They emerge from the studio with an unnerving confidence. They know the record is special . . .

Many former chart toppers have continued with a musical career with varying degrees of success. And even if record companies have dropped them, many carry on via the cabaret circuit or turn to the internet and market themselves online.

Some turn to other areas of the music business and many former teenage tunesmiths are now engaged in other grown-up business, working as financial advisers, pilots, commercial artists, teachers of actors. Some work in a bar or sell burgers from a van . . .

Only a small minority seem damaged by the experience and certainly none seem to regret that opportunity knocked (albeit just the once).

The majority of One Hit Wonders feel only pleasure at the memory of those extraordinary days when the charts ruled their lives, fans cheered and studio lights glared.

Here then is a selection of memorable One Hit Wonders from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s;

THE 1950s

Bernard Bresslaw
Bobby Day
The Champs
The Chords
The Monotones
The Penguins
Sheb Wooley
The Silhouettes
Mad Passionate Love
Rockin’ Robin
Tequila
Sh-Boom
The Book Of Love
Earth Angel
Purple People Eater
Get A Job
1958
1958
1958
1954
1958
1955
1958
1958

THE 1960s

Bob Lind
Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band
Bruce Channel
The Capitols
The Cascades
The Castaways
The Chantays
Crazy World Of Arthur Brown
Desmond Dekker
Dora Bryan
The Exciters
Frank Ifield
The Gentrys
Hedgehoppers Anonymous
Honeybus
The Honeycombs
Horst Jankowski
Iron Butterfly
Jeannie C Riley
John Fred & His Playboy Band
Jonathan King
Keith West
Leapy Lee
The Lemon Pipers
Love Sculpture
Max Harris
Napoleon XIV
The Nashville Teens
Noel Harrison
The Overlanders
Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours
Richard Harris
Simon Dupree & The Big Sound
The Singing Nun
The Standells
The Surfaris
Thunderclap Newman
Tommy Cooper
The Tornados
Twinkle
Zager & Evans
? and The Mysterians
Elusive Butterfly
I’m The Urban Spaceman
Hey Baby
Cool Jerk
Rhythm Of The Rain
Liar Liar
Pipeline
Fire
The Israelites
All I Want For Christmas Is A Beatle
Tell Him
I Remember You
Keep On Dancing
It’s Good News Week
I Can’t Let Maggie Go
Have I The Right?
A Walk In The Black Forest
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
Harper Valley PTA
Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)
Everyone’s Gone To The Moon
Excerpt From A Teenage Opera
Little Arrows
Green Tambourine
Sabre Dance
Gurney Slade
They’re Coming To Take Me Away
Tobacco Road
The Windmills Of Your Mind
Michelle
Mirror Mirror
MacArthur Park
Kites
Dominique
Dirty Water
Wipe Out
Something In The Air
Don’t Jump Off The Roof Dad
Telstar
Terry
In The Year 2525
96 Tears
1966
1968
1962
1966
1963
1965
1963
1968
1969
1963
1962
1962
1965
1965
1968
1964
1965
1968
1968
1967
1965
1967
1968
1967
1968
1960
1966
1964
1969
1966
1966
1968
1967
1963
1966
1963
1969
1961
1962
1964
1969
1966

THE 1970s

Ace
The Adverts
Alan O’Day
Anita Ward
Argent
Benny Hill
Billy Swan
Bob Welch
Brian & Michael
Brownsville Station
Carl Douglas
Christie
City Boy
Clive Dunn
The Congregation
Curved Air
C W McCall
David Dundas
David Soul
The Dead End Kids
Edison Lighthouse
Elvin Bishop
Eruption
Fiddlers Dram
First Class
Floaters
Flying Lizards
Frijid Pink
George McRae
Hot Butter
Hurricane Smith
Jasper Carrott
Jigsaw
Judie Tzuke
Kraftwerk
Kursaal Flyers
Lynn Anderson
M
Maria Muldaur
Mary MacGregor
Minnie Riperton
Nick Gilder
Odyssey
Our Kid
Patrick Hernandez
Pete Wingfield
The Piglets
Pipkins
Promises
Quantum Jump
Racing Cars
How Long
Gary Gilmore’s Eyes
Undercover Angel
Ring My Bell
Hold Your Head Up
Ernie
I Can Help
Ebony Eyes
Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats & Dogs
Smokin’ In The Boys Room
Kung Fu Fighting
Yellow River
5.7.0.5
Grandad
Softly Whispering I Love You
Backstreet Luv
Convoy
Jeans On
Don’t Give Up On Us Baby
Have I The Right?
Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
Fooled Around And Fell In Love
I Can’t Stand The Rain
Day Trip To Bangor
Beach Baby
Float On
Money (That’s What I Want)
House Of The Rising Sun
Rock Your Baby
Popcorn
Oh Babe, What Would You Say?
Funky Moped
Sky High
Stay With Me Till Dawn
Autobahn
Little Does She Know
Rose Garden
Pop Muzik
Midnight At The Oasis
Torn Between Two Lovers
Loving You
Hot Child In The City
Native New Yorker
You Just Might See Me Cry
Born To Be Alive
Eighteen With A Bullet
Johnny Reggae
Gimme Dat Ding
Baby, It’s You
The Lone Ranger
They Shoot Horses Don’t They?
1975
1977
1978
1978
1972
1971
1974
1977
1978
1973
1974
1970
1978
1971
1971
1971
1975
1976
1976
1977
1970
1976
1978
1979
1974
1977
1979
1970
1974
1972
1972
1975
1975
1979
1975
1976
1970
1979
1974
1976
1975
1978
1977
1976
1979
1975
1971
1970
1979
1979
1977
   
Ralph McTell
Ram Jam
Rick Dees
Roger Voudouris
Sanford Townshend Band
Scott Fitzgerald
Shocking Blue
Sister Janet Mead
Sniff ‘n’ The Tears
Starland Vocal Band
Steve Gibbons Band
Stevenson’s Rocket
Terry Jacks
Typically Tropical
Voyager
Walter Egan
White Plains
Wild Cherry
Streets Of London
Black Betty
Disco Duck
Get Used To It
Smoke From A Distant Fire
If I Had Words
Venus
The Lord’s Prayer
Drivers Seat
Afternoon Delight
Tulane
Alright Baby
Seasons In The Sun
Barbados
Halfway Hotel
Magnet and Steel
My Baby Loves Lovin’
Play That Funky Music
1974
1977
1976
1979
1977
1978
1970
1974
1979
1976
1977
1975
1974
1975
1979
1978
1970
1976

THE 1980s

A-ha
Aled Jones
Aneka
Anita Dobson
Blow Monkeys
Bobby McFerrin
Breakfast Club
Charlene
Charlie Dore
Charlie Sexton
Club Nouveau
Danny Wilson
Doctor & The Medics
Dream Academy
Falco
Flock Of Seagulls
Haysi Fantayzee
JoBoxers
Joe Dolce
Kajagoogoo
Keith Harris & Orville
The Korgis
Limahl
Lipps Inc
The Look
The Maisonettes
M/A/R/R/S
Men Without Hats
Michael Sembello
Morris Minor & The Majors
Moving Pictures
Murray Head
Musical Youth
Nena
Owen Paul
Paul Hardcastle
Rocky Burnette
Roman Holliday
Soft Cell
Splodgenessabounds
Steve Forbert
Sugarhill Gang
Thomas Dolby
Tommy Tutone
Toni Basil
Tracie Young
Twisted Sister
The Vapors
The Waitresses
Wall of Voodoo
Take On Me
Walking In The Air
Japanese Boy
Anyone Can Fall In Love (‘EastEnders’ Theme)
Digging Your Scene
Don’t Worry Be Happy
Right On Track
I’ve Never Been To Me
Pilot Of The Airwaves
Beats So Lonely
Lean On Me
Mary’s Prayer
Spirit In The Sky
Life In A Northern Town
Rock Me Amadeus
I Ran
Shiny Shiny
Just Got Lucky
Shaddap You Face
Too Shy
Orville’s Song
Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime
Never-Ending Story
Funkytown
I Am The Beat
Heartache Avenue
Pump Up The Volume
Safety Dance
Maniac
Stutter Rap
What About Me?
One Night In Bangkok
Pass The Dutchie
99 Luftballons
My Favourite Waste Of Time
19
Tired Of Toein’ The Line
Don’t Try To Stop It
Tainted Love
Two Pints Of Lager & A Packet Of Crisps Please
Romeo’s Tune
Rapper’s Delight
She Blinded Me With Science
867-5309 Jenny
Mickey
The House That Jack Built
We’re Not Gonna Take It
Turning Japanese
I Know What Boys Like
Mexican Radio
1985
1985
1981
1986
1986
1988
1987
1982
1980
1986
1987
1988
1986
1985
1986
1982
1983
1983
1981
1983
1982
1980
1985
1980
1980
1982
1987
1982
1983
1987
1984
1983
1984
1984
1986
1985
1981
1983
1982
1980
1980
1980
1983
1982
1982
1983
1984
1980
1982
1982

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