1970 Edition, by Rich Paschall
Everyone likes to get invited to the party, but imagine getting invited to just one party…ever. That’s how it must have felt for these 1970 rockers who climbed high on the rock and roll charts just once. They may have had minor successes with other songs, but just one big hit.
A one-hit wonder is “an act that has won a position on [the] national, pop, Top 20 record chart just once” according to The Billboard Book of One-Hit Wonders. Some of these one-hit wonders have made a career out of it and are still going. Others have become just a footnote in rock and roll history. In order to celebrate the occasion, we have decided to throw a fiftieth birthday party for the following artists and songs. So come across those White Plains and watch out for those Five Stair Steps when you arrive. O-o-h Child, you will feel like a Mississippi Queen when The Rapper gets going. So, Ma Belle Amie, we want to see you movin’ and groovin’ to my personal Top Ten choices.
10. Tighter, Tighter by Alive and Kicking. Written by Bobby King and Tommy James (Yes, that Tommy James) the song was released in June and reached number 7 by August. Tommy James and the Shondells recorded it years later with little success.
09. Hey There Lonely Girl by Eddie Holman. This was released as Hey There Lonely Boy by Ruby and the Romantics in 1963. It did not chart. This version made it to number 2 on the Billboard 100.
07. Ride Captain Ride by Blues Image. This was the only Top 40 hit for this American band. “As a storm was blowin’ out on the peaceful sea, Seventy-three men sailed off to history.” That’s sort of like this song.
06. Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) by Edison Lighthouse. The group was basically a studio creation. The song was number 5 in the US but went to number 1 in the UK. It has a similar sound to another one-hit-wonder that year. “My Baby Loves Lovin“ by White Plains may have had the same lead singer. Tony Burrows did studio singing and is often reported as the real voice here. He did work on the song. You decide.
Honorable Mention: We would absolutely be remiss if we failed to mention Rubber Duckie by Ernie (of Sesame Street). Yes, he has been involved in many songs over the years, but alas, this was his only song to hit the charts. It seems the tune was so popular up and down Sesame Street that it was released as a single and climbed the pop charts all the way to number 16 by September of that year.
05. In The Summertime by Mungo Jerry. There actually is no “Mungo Jerry.” The band is named after Mungojerrie from T.S. Eliot’s book, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The song was written by lead singer Ray Dorset.
04. Montego Bay by Bobby Bloom. The song was co-authored by Bloom. It is written about a Jamaican city of the same name.
03. Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum. The singer claims to have written the lyrics in 15 minutes’ time. It was a popular tune on the AM radio rock stations in Chicago in early 1970. It reached number 3 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
02. Venus by Shocking Blue. The Dutch rockers topped the charts in nine countries with this tune, including the US.
01. Vehicle by Ides of March. The local rock band was a favorite in Chicago. In fact, they still are. When I was in high school, they were playing “sock hops” at other high schools. When Vehicle hit in 1970 it was on the Big 89, WLS 890 AM on our radio dials ALL THE TIME!
To hear any of the songs above just click on the title. To hear them all, go to my One Hit Wonders playlist here.