Monday, September 26, 2016

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest--Part 21

Bill Justis and His Orchestra

This leader of the house band for Sun Records charted for the first time with this outstanding instrumental which went to #2 and sold over one million copies.  But he could never get higher than #42 after that.

Bert Kaempfert
"Wonderland By Night"

This multi-instrumentalist, bandleader, producer and arranger from Hamburg, Germany wrote "Strangers In The Night" for Frank Sinatra and "Spanish Eyes" for Al Martino.  He produced the first Beatles recording session.  In 1960, Bert Kaempfert and His Orchestra went all the way to #1 in 1961 with this great instrumental.  He reached #11 with his version of "Red Roses For A Blue Lady" but the is the best he would do after his first hit.

"Too Shy"

This English group began under the name Art Nouveau but after a recording failed to generate interest, auditioned for a new lead singer.  Christopher Hamill, who went by the stage name of Limahl (an anagram of his surname), won the job, and Kajagoogoo hit #5 with "Too Shy" in 1983.  Internal dissention caused the group to fire Limahl soon after, and they never reached the Top 40 again.

Kalin Twins

Herbert and Harold Kalin reached #5 with "When" in 1958.  They got as high as #12 with "Forget Me Not" after that, but nothing else reached the Top 40.

Ini Kamoze
"Here Comes The Hotstepper"

This Kingston, Jamaica artist went to #1 with this big hit from 1994, which sold over two million copies.  But Kamoze never scored another big hit after his first.

Katrina and the Waves
"Walking On Sunshine"

With a big hit in 1985, this London group appeared to be on their way.  They had another noteworthy song ("Do You Want Crying") later in the year, but never found the Top 10 again.

KC and the Sunshine Band
"Get Down Tonight"

This Florida act capitalized on the Disco craze to generate 17 hits from 1975 to 1983.  Their first release, "Get Down Tonight", went to #1.  They scored five other Top 2 songs:  the #1's "That's The Way (I Like It)", "(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty", "I'm Your Boogie Man" and "Please Don't Go" and  the #2 "Keep It Comin' Love".  In 2016, those other four are fairly close in sustained popularity, but its the first one that remains their biggest hit.

Ernie K-Doe

This New Orleans singer-songwriter hit #1 with this comedic hit.  Ernie became a One-Hit Wonder, as he was never able to reach the Top 40 again.

Tara Kemp
"Hold You Tight"

This classically-trained pianist from San Francisco signed with Giant Records and landed one of the biggest hits of 1991 with "Hold You Tight".  Her follow-up, "Piece Of My Heart" got as high as #7, but nothing Tara has recorded matched her debut.

"Tell Me Something Good"

This song written by Stevie Wonder kickstarted the career of Rufus in 1974 with #3 smash and Gold record.  Rufus also hit the Top 5 two years later with "Sweet Thing" but never matched their debut.  Lead singer Chaka Khan went on to enjoy a successful solo career that included the 1984 hit "I Feel For You".

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest--Part 20

We're going through the artists who set a standard for themselves with their first career hit, which they would never top.  Here are 10 more:

Terry Jacks
"Seasons In The Sun"

With wife Susan Jacks, this Canadian recorded as the Poppy Family, and scored the big hit "Where Evil Grows".  In 1974, Terry released his first solo song, and his remake of a Kingston Trip song went to #1 for three weeks.  But Terry is one of the finest of the One-Hit Wonders; he never came close to the Top 40 again.

"The Rapper"

Although our feature doesn't include only One-Hit Wonders, here's another.  The Jaggerz formed in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and achieved this #2 smash in 1970.  Their next best effort was #75.  Lead singer Donnie Ierace later recorded under the name Donnie Iris ("Ah!  Leah! in 1981).

"Sally, Go 'Round The Roses"

Here's a group from the Bronx who reached #2 in 1963 with this song.  They never charted again.

Jesus Jones
"Right Here, Right Now"

This act scored one of the biggest hits of 1991 with this #2 smash.  They got close with their follow-up (#4 for "Real, Real, Real") but never charted after that.

Joan Jett & the Blackhearts
"I Love Rock 'N Roll"

Lead singer and guitarist Joan Jett attracted attention when she was with the Runaways from 1975 to 1978.  In 1980, she formed her own band, and vaulted to #1 with this song.  It remained at the top for seven weeks and became one of The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.  They went on to record 10 hits, including the Top 10's "Crimson And Clover" and "I Hate Myself For Loving You".  But nothing else came remotely close to their first big hit.

"Sky High"

This act began as a six-piece with musicians from Coventry and Rugby, England forming in 1966.  They recorded several albums and had success in some countries, but it wasn't until 1975 that they enjoyed their first worldwide hit.  "Sky High" soared to #3 for the group.  They released 13 albums in their career, but their next-best effort was #30.

Jive Five
"My True Story"

This doo-wop group from Brooklyn, New York went as high as #3 with their first hit.  They evolved into more of a soul group after that, but never got to the Top 20 again.

Johnny Hates Jazz
"Shattered Dreams"

This English trio is featured on two other important lists:  The Top 500 One-Hit Wonders of the Rock Era* and The Top 100 #2 Songs of the Rock Era*.  They scored a huge hit with this one in 1988, but only charted one other time at #31.

Rickie Lee Jones
"Chuck E.'s In Love"

In 1978, this Chicago artist recorded a great debut album and with this #4 song and a Best New Artist trophy from the Grammy Awards, appeared to be on her way.  But mysteriously, Rickie Lee would never get higher than #40 again.

Montell Jordan
"This Is How We Do It"

One of the tallest artists of the Rock Era at 6-feet, 8-inches, Montell Jordan enjoyed a #1 song of seven weeks with this Platinum recording.  He released three other singles that made it to the Top 25, but nothing close to his first.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This Date in Rock Music History: September 26

1955:  Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher married in Grossinger, New York.
1956:  The city of Tupelo, Mississippi declared Elvis Presley Day in honor of its native son.
1957:  The Monotones recorded "Book Of Love".
1957:  The classic musical West Side Story opened at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York City.
1961:  Bob Dylan opened for the Greenbriar Boys at Gerde's Folk Club in New York's Greenwich Village.