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Sixties One-Hit Wonders

A cool development after single-mp3 purchasing became an option for me in the past years, is the discovery of Sixties One-Hit wonders and the art of googling a fragment of a lyric to find out about the previously unknown musician who performed it. More often than not, I discover that these musicians were actually immensely talented and just didn't get any luck breaking other songs into the mainstream.

Usually what happens is some little riff pops into my head at a random time, triggered by an instrument I hear or maybe just some particular phrasing. I cannot attribute this nagging riff to any of the true musical superstars of the time that were able to release multiple smash singles, and the discovery process of the riff's source, even though Google makes the investigation pretty quick, is really fun.

More importantly, these songs often are only released in sixties compilations, if at all. Instead of oldies radio or the occasional box set (Nuggets), I wouldn't be able to hear them otherwise. Many of tunes, perhaps because of their focus on pop catchiness and nothing else, are also nowhere to be seen on the AM 3000, but they are still fascinating and are becoming a whole different tier of favorite music for me.

Here's a short list of these "Unknown Oldies" that I have come across.

Chris Montez - Let's Dance

[Quick example of the type of 'triggers' I get for these one-hit wonders. I was just watching Roy Oribson's Black and White Night Concert Film this morning, and there was a quick moment where band member Elvis Costello was playing quick sharp notes on an electronic keyboard. My mind began to dance towards the clipped keyboard notes of this song, but I had to remember at least one lyric in order to have something to search for, since I definitely had not heard of Chris Montez. Despite the slight lack of enunciation in the title's lyrics, and the parallel title to David Bowie's track, Let's Dance was enough for me to work with]


Lou Christie - Lightin' Christie [AM Bubbling Under]

Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart - I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight?

Gene McDaniels - Tower of Strength

The Cascades - Rhythm of the Rain

Gary Lewis and the Playboys - She's Just My Style

Ricky Nelson - Poor Little Fool (although he had a few more great hit songs)

The Ad-Libs - The Boy From New York City

Tommy Roe - Shiela

R. B. Greaves - Take A Letter Maria

I would really like your contributions! Bonus points if the song is NOT on the AM 3000. Get some more songs stuck in our heads!

Re: Sixties One-Hit Wonders

Tommy Roe had a #1 with 'Dizzy' also,did he not?

Re: Sixties One-Hit Wonders

I know that one-hit wonders could be a very controversial term, given that many beloved artists are actually more than one-hit wonders depending on which country they are popular in. I'm just interested in the songs

And it looks like Dizzy was another Tommy Roe hit, but I still came across Sheila totally out of nowhere, and it's on my personal list because when I heard it, I didn't think "Oh that's a Tommy Roe song", rather I had heard it for many years and never knew who did it.

Some of these artists actually reinvented their sounds a great deal in order to stay fresh and rekindle pop chart success, regardless of staying consistent in style. If you read about Chris Montez on wikipedia, for example, you can see that a few years later he completely reinvented himself after Let's Dance to have some mellow hits in the early stages of adult-oriented pop genre, with the song Call Me. Dizzy sounds a lot different than Sheila, but it's still was a #1 smash so Tommy Roe is not exactly a one-hit wonder.

Re: Sixties One-Hit Wonders

I can't help but...

..it's so uplifting..

Re: Sixties One-Hit Wonders

Good one Netjade... exactly what I'm looking for. Heard that song all that time, but have no idea who The Spiral Staircase is.

And I LOVE the footage of these bands from music shows back then, and their coordinated body language. That little jig of the guitar player on the left is priceless.

Re: Sixties One-Hit Wonders

Six of my favorite sixties one-hit wonders.

? and the Mysterians- 96 Tears
Barry and the Remains- Why Do I Cry
Status Quo- Pictures of Matchstick Men
Thunderclap Newman- Something in the Air
Castaways- Liar, Liar
Jonathan King- Everyone's Gone to the Moon

More today than yesterday

Holy shit! My whole life I've thought that was Stevie Wonder. Talk about your blue-eyed soul.

Re: Sixties One-Hit Wonders

Zager and Evans- In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)
We Five - You Were On My Mind
Amboy Dukes - Journey to the Centre of the Mind
Bob Kuban - The Cheater
Strawberry Alarm Clock - Incense and Peppermints
Brooklyn Bridge - Worst that Could Happen
The Jarmels - A Little Bit of Soap
The Outsiders - Time Won't Let Me
The Seeds - Pushin' Too Hard
Every Mother's Son - Come On Down to my Boat
Los Bravos - Black is Black

Re: Sixties One-Hit Wonders

Cool, that We Five song and Los Bravos song would have definitely popped into my head sooner or later. Thank goodness most of these songs have a prominent lyric in their title or else I'd never find them.

Seeing some of the video clips on songza, I should mention another interesting musical trigger. Anyone come across those commercials for 60s or 70s song compilations [All Your Favorites in One 12 CD Collection!]. It some cases those 5 second clips of music are stuck in my head for years before I 1) find out who performs it and 2) find out how the rest of the song goes. In a few cases, that five second chorus, where the title of the track is sung, is the one and only listenable part of the music!

I hope, with your thoughts, to make a non-Nuggets complication of these obscure but ubiquitous treasures. Keep them coming!

Re: Sixties One-Hit Wonders

Long list here:

Not sure if you're from the States, Jonah, but if you're NOT, keep in mind some of these folks might have had much bigger careers elsewhere.