Wednesday, January 6, 2016
TMFW 122 - The One-Hit Wonder (Six Different Times)
(NOTE: For this week's entry, I had a story that I like a lot, but I ran out of time. So you will probably see it next week. In its place is a pretty fun, but much more straightforward, story.
In 1967, The Flower Pot Men had a hit with "Let's Go to San Francisco," which reached #4 in the UK. They never had another song in the top-40 on the UK or US charts.
In January 1970, Edison Lighthouse had a hit with "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes," which reached #1 in the UK and #5 in the US. They never had another song in the top-40 on the UK or US charts.
In February 1970, Edison Lighthouse was joined in the UK Top-10 by White Plains, who had a hit with "My Baby Loves Lovin'." It reached #9 in the UK and #13 in the US. White Plains had a respectable four other top-40 singles in the UK, but never had another top-40 on the US charts.
Also in February of 1970, The Brotherhood of Man had a hit with "United We Stand," which hit #10 in the UK and #13 in the US. That incarnation of The Brotherhood of Man reached #22 in the UK with its next single, but never charted in the UK or US again.
In the summer of 1970, The Pipkins had a hit with the novelty song "Gimme Dat Ding," which reached #6 in the UK and #9 in the US. (It also inspired "Gimme Dat Ring," a custom version made to advertise the new "pull top" ring on Coca-Cola cans.) They never had another song in the top-40 on the UK or US charts.
Finally, in 1974 The First Class had a hit with "Beach Baby," which reached #13 in the UK and #4 in the US. They never had another song in the top-40 on the UK or US charts.
There were lots (and lots and lots) of one-hit wonders, of course, but what makes these worthy of a TMFW is that the lead vocals on all six of the songs above were done by the same guy: prolific British session musician Tony Burrows. In nearly all of the cases, the "bands" in question were put together by songwriters or producers who wanted to get a single recorded and released, and used session musicians to do it. Because a record needs an artist, a band name was contrived and slapped on.
This six-minute BBC clip from The One Show is a nice overview of Burrows, who had the distinction in February 1970 of having three songs in the top 10, with three different bands. He seems like a good dude. As he notes in the clip, the songs were recorded several months apart, and it was just a matter of coincidence that they were released and found success so close to each other.
Ironically, through the 1970s Burrows released 12 singles under his own name. The best he ever did on the Hot 100 was his song "Melanie Makes Me Smile," which hit #84 in 1970. That's a pretty good gag.
So there's your TMFW for today: one singer felt the joy, and frustration, of being a "One Hit Wonder" with six different bands.
BONUS FACT: For four weeks in 1970, including three consecutive weeks from February 12 to February 26, Burrows performed live on the UK show "Top of the Pops" with two of his three hit bands. Edison Lighthouse (performing "Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes") played all four weeks, while Brotherhood of Man (performing "United We Stand") shared the bill on January 29 and February 19 and White Plains (performing "My Baby Loves Lovin'") shared the bill on February 12 and February 26. As Burrows notes in the interview linked above, he changed clothes between performances and thinks that the crowd may not have even recognized that he was the lead singer of both groups.
BONUS FACT 2: Starting in 1976, Brotherhood of Man had three #1 songs in the UK, with "Save Your Kisses for Me," "Angelo," and "Figaro." But by that time every single one of the original members had changed, without even any overlap. So in effect, they were two fully separate bands, with the only thing shared in common a producer and a name. That's how they did it back then.