Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Top 500 One-Hit Wonders of the Rock Era: #300-276

These artists all put those who mock them to shame.  We have presented 200 of them already, with the best 300 yet to come:

This #1 song from the 50's was adapted from Mozart's "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star":
#300:  Little Star--Elegants                

Vito Picone, Arthur Venosa, Frank Tardogno, Carmen Romano and James Mochella formed the Elegants in 1958 in Staten Island, New York.  They began playing under the boardwalk by their homes.  
Venosa and Picone wrote "Little Star", and it became a number one song in the United States and #25 in the U.K. in 1958  The group toured with Buddy Holly, Dion and the Belmonts, Chuck Berry and Jerry Lee Lewis.  None of their further singles, however, made the chart.

This group recorded ten albums in the 70's and 80's:

  #299:  Movin'--Brass Construction 

Brass Construction, originally known as Dynamic Soul, formed in Brooklyn, New York in 1968. They signed with Epic Records in 1975 and released "Movin'" in 1976. The single hit #14 overall and was #1 in the smaller genre of R&B in the United States and #23 in the U.K.
Brass Construction charted nine entries on the R&B chart, but "Movin'" was the only song to enjoy widespread success.

The leader of this group once played in a band that included Jimi Hendrix:

  #298:  I Got a Line on You--Spirit   

Spirit evolved from the Los Angeles group the Red Roosters, which included guitarist and vocalist Randy California, Mark Andes on bass and Jay Ferguson on vocals and percussion.  When drummer Ed Cassidy on drums and keyboardist John Locke was added, the group changed their name to Spirits Rebellious before shortening it to simply Spirit.  California had also played in the band the Blue Flame, which featured a young talent known as Jimmy James, who would later change his name to Jimi Hendrix.
Spirit released their self-titled debut album in 1968.  The album attracted a following and stayed on the album chart for over eight months.  Later in the year, Spirit released the single "I Got A Line On You", which it #25 in the United States and #28 in Canada.  The group went on tour, with new group Led Zeppelin opening for them.

Spirit recorded music for the "Model Shop" Soundtrack before recording the album Clear in 1969.  The following year, Spirit recorded the song "1984", which peaked at #69.  Spirit recorded the album Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, which contained fine work, but nothing approached the success of "I Got A Line On You".

After a tour to support Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus, Ferguson and Andes left the group.  Ferguson would go on to enjoy solo success with "Thunder Island" and "Shakedown Cruise", while Andes has been a member of Canned Heat, Firefall and later versions of Heart.  

One of the big dance songs of the past 20 years is next:

#297:  What is Love--Haddaway  

Haddaway moved from Trinidad to Europe in the early 1970's before moving to the United States.  He graduated from Meade Senior High School in Laurel, Maryland in 1983.  Haddaway played in the school's jazz, marching, symphonic and stage bands.  He performed gigs with a cover band called Chance while studying history and political science at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

In 1989, Haddaway returned to Europe and moved to Cologne, Germany.  He played football for the Cologne Crocodiles in the German Football League and worked several odd jobs.  In 1992, Haddaway signed a recording contract with Coconut Records in Germany.  His first single "What Is Love" became a huge European hit, peaking at #2 in both the United Kingdom and Germany.  The song hit #11 in the United States and sold over a million copies, with worldwide sales pegged at 2.6 million.

Haddaway's second single "Life" continued his success in Europe, but it was only #41 in the United States.  Follow-up singles "I Miss You" and "Rock My Heart" also became hits in Europe but again, his success was confined there.

"What Is Love" enjoyed renewed popularity when the song was used as the theme for the head-bobbing Butabi brothers (Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan) on Saturday Night Live.  Haddaway has released six albums and 17 singles, but struggled to match his first single.

Here's the story of a group that didn't give up, even reforming for one last try at success:
#296:  Dancing in the Moonlight--King Harvest 

Four American expatriates formed King Harvest in Paris, France in 1970.  Dave "Doc" Robinson on lead vocals, bass and keyboards, keyboardist Ron Altbach, guitarist Ed Tuleja and Rod Novak on saxophone have been the constant in an ever-changing group lineup.

"Dancing in the Moonlight" was released in Paris but the single did not do well and King Harvest broke up.  But they got back together for the re-release of the song in the United States.  The song was written by former band member Sherman Kelly and reached #13 in the United States.

However, future releases were unable to continue the momentum.    

At #295, the One-Hit Wonder that went on to provide a springboard to other artists:

  #295:  Pillow Talk--Sylvia

Here we have one of the only people in the Rock Era to be part of two One-Hit Wonders.  She did it as half of Mickey and Sylvia, and here is Sylvia with "Pillow Talk".  

She began recording in 1950 for Columbia Records and teamed up with Mickey Baker in 1954.  Mickey and Sylvia had the one hit, "Love is Strange" in 1957 before splitting up in 1959.  

In 1967, Sylvia and her husband formed the soul music label, All Platinum Records.  The new label signed the Moments, who enjoyed the hit "Love on a Two-Way Street", which Sylvia co-wrote and produced.  "Shame, Shame Shame" by Shirley and Company, yet another One-Hit Wonder, was another song on the All Platinum label.

In 1972, Sylvia wrote "Pillow Talk" and sent it to Al Green.  When Green passed on the song,  Sylvia decided to record it herself.  The song hit #3 overall and #1 on the R&B charts in the United States and 314 in the U.K.  "Pillow Talk" sold over one million copies.  Sylvia had a few other R&B hits and recorded four solo albums.

In the 70's, Sylvia and her husband founded Sugar Hill Records, and she co-wrote and produced "The Message" for Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. 

Sylvia may have been a two-time One-Hit Wonder, but she did much for the music industry. 

This duo may have only had one big hit, but they were instrumental to R&B music behind the scenes:

  #294:  Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now--McFadden & Whitehead

This duo wrote and produced some of the top R&B songs of the 1970's.  While teenagers, Geen McFadden and John Whitehead formed a group known as the Epsilons.  Otis Redding discovered and toured with them  until Redding's death in 1967.

McFadden & Whitehead found their way to Philly International Records, where they wrote a string of hits, beginning with "Back Stabbers" for the O'Jays.  They also wrote "Wake Up Everybody" for Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes and worked with Stevie Wonder, Freddie Jackson, Gloria Gaynor, the Jackson 5, Gladys Knight, James Brown and Lou Rawls.

The pair formed under the name McFadden & Whitehead in 1977 and two years later, "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" was #13, sold over eight million records worldwide and was nominated for a Grammy.

McFadden & Whitehead went on to release eight singles, but only the one hit that they recorded.  So, they were a "One-Hit Wonder" as a recording act but their contributions to the music industry away from recording was immense.

This group from Great Britain scored their big hit in 1980:

  #293:  Everybodys Got To Learn Sometime--Korgis 

Singer/bassist James Warren and singer/guitarist/keyboardist Andy Davis formed the Korgis along with unofficial members Phil Harrison (keyboards) and Stuart Gordon (violinist).  The group released their first single "Young 'n' Russian" in 1979 on Rialto Records, a label owned by their managers Nick and Tim Heath.  "If I Had You" followed and achieved a #13 ranking in their native U.K.

But in 1980, "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime" became the group's first and only worldwide hit, topping out at #5 in the U.K. and #18 in the United States.  The single emerged from the Dumb Waiters album.  But subsequent singles did not continue that success and after a third album, Davis and Warren had gone their separate ways.  Warren released a solo album, and the Korgis reunited in 1990 for an album before breaking up again.

A reminder that a "One Hit Wonder" sung with an established star doesn't qualify under our rules, simply because they were helped along by that star, rather than doing it all by themselves. 

 Here we have one of the major proponents of smooth jazz:

  #292:  Morning Dance--Spyro Gyra   

Spyro Gyra formed in the mid-70's in Buffalo, New York.  Jay Beckenstein and keyboardist Jeremy Wall had formed a band during high school, and, although they went their separate ways in college, they spent summers playing outdoor concerts, and Wall moved back to Buffalo after graduating.  

Beckenstein and Schuman have been the only constants in the group since its founding, although guitarist Julio Fernandez is now in his third decade with the band.

The group has released 30 career albums and sold 10 million records.  They are cited as influential in the development of smooth jazz, making it all the more mysterious why just one of their songs caught on.

Another singer-songwriter checks in in The One-Hit Wonders*:

  #291:  What You Won't Do For Love--Bobby Caldwell

Caldwell began playing piano and guitar in his early years and formed a band at age 17.  Caldwell played Jimi Hendrix and Cream covers in small clubs.  

Bobby was signed to TK Records and recorded his self-titled solo album which yielded "What You Won't Do For Love".  The song was released as a red heart-shaped 45-rpm record, which is now quite a collector's item.  The single was an across-the-board hit, reaching #9 overall, #6 on the R&B chart and #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart.   

Future efforts by Caldwell did not compare, although his albums increasingly became popular in Japan.  In his career, Caldwell released 12 albums and 11 singles.  He did, however write several notable songs for other artists, such as "The Next Time I Fall" for Amy Grant & Peter Cetera, "Janet" for the Commodores and "All or Nothing at All" for Al Jarreau.   

A big hit in 1998 gave this artist her one big hit:

  #290:  Crush--Jennifer Paige

Paige began singing at local coffeehouses and restaurants at age five.  She studied voice, dance and drama at the performing arts school Pebblebrook High School in Marietta, Georgia.  At age 17, Jennifer toured the country with the group Vivid Image before moving to Los Angeles.

In 1996, Paige performed at the Olympic Games with the cover band called Joe's Band.  She then hooked up with producer Andy Goldmark and recorded a dance version of the Aretha Franklin song "Chain of Fools".  This impressed Edel Records, which signed Paige to a recording contract.

The lead single from her 1998 debut album was "Crush", which was #3 in the United States and #1 in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.  Yet as bright as her prospects were, the best Paige could do after that was the dance chart.

The #289 artist was the first successful artist from Boise since Paul Revere & the Raiders:

  #289:  I Wonder Why--Curtis Stigers 

Curtis Stigers grew up in Boise, Idaho, playing in jazz, rock and blues groups while training in clarinet and saxophone in high school. He was inspired by jazz musician Gene Harris, whom he jammed with at the Idanha Hotel.

Stigers moved to New York City to pursue rock music, but instead found himself singing and playing in a jazz trio.  Curtis signed with Arista Records and released two albums, his self-titled, multi-platinum debut in 1991 and Time Was in 1995.  "I Wonder Why" was taken from the former and reached #5 in the U.K. and #9 in the United States.  He was able to take "You're All That Matters To Me" to #6 in the U.K., but was unable to match the worldwide success of "I Wonder Why".

Stigers performed with Elton John, Prince, Rod Stewart, Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, the Allman Brothers Band and Joe Cocker.  Stigers' version of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding appeared on the 17-million selling "The Bodyguard" Soundtrack.  

The next One-Hit Wonder got his name from a hoodoo in New Orleans:

  #288:  Right Place, Wrong Time--Dr. John 

Dr. John was inspired by the minstrel tunes sung by his grandfather and by a number of aunts, uncles and cousins who played the piano.  His father, who owned a record shop in New Orleans, Louisiana, enabled Dr. John to be present in recording rooms of artists such as Little Richard.  John then moved into clubs and on stage with various local artists, notably Professor Longhair, at the age of 14.

Longhair made an indelible impression on the youngster, not only with his music but his style.  Longhair was dressed in a turtleneck shirt with a watch hanging on a gold chain and an Army fatigue cap.

John concentrated on guitar and played with several local bands.  He had a regional hit with "Storm Warning" on Rex Records in 1959.  

At 16, John was hired by Johnny Vincent as a producer at Ace Records.  He produced singles for Johnny Vincent and Joe Corona, among others.  Rebennack's career as a guitarist came to an end when his left ring finger was injured by a gunshot while he was defending singer/keyboardist Ronnie Barron.  After the injury, Rebennack concentrated on bass guitar before deciding on the piano. 

But John was exposed to the underworld and all of its trappings in New Orleans.  He became addicted to heroin and sold narcotics and ran a house of prostitution to get his next "fix".  Drugs led him to frequent shootouts in nightclubs and bouts with the police.  He was arrested several times that eventually led to prison time in Texas.  

When he wasn't out causing trouble or looking for drugs, John did gain much experience from his work in the studio and eventually moved to California in 1965, where he would adopt the stage name of Dr. John.

Dr. John became one of the top session musicians in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70's, working for Sonny & Cher, Canned Heat and Frank Zappa among others.

Dr. John developed the idea of his Dr. John persona from a hoodoo guy in New Orleans by that name.  The original Doctor John came from Haiti and was a medicinal and spiritual healer.  He had a fascination with reptiles and his specialty was healing, in which he would sell voodoo amulets that supposedly protected the wearer from harm.

In 1968, Dr. John the singer released the acclaimed album Gris-Gris, combining voodoo rhythms and chants with the New Orleans music tradition.  Dr. John toured extensively and soon became known for a wildly theatrical stage show featuring Mardi Gras costumes and voodoo ceremonies.

He gained a cult following, including Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger, who both helped on his The Sun, Moon, and Herbs album. By this time, John had changed his style to more of a traditional R&B and funk type of music.  On the album Dr. John's Gumbo, he recorded what many consider to be one of his best.  On the album, John covered many New Orleans R&B standards.  

In 1973, Dr. John released the funk album In the Right Place, which contained the single "Right Place Wrong Time".  The song reached #9 while the follow-up single "Such a Night" landed at #42.  

John hoped to capitalize on the success of "Right Place Wrong Time" for his album Desitively Bonnaroo in 1974.  But it failed to capture any attention.  John then began an almost twenty-year long association with songwriter Doc Pomus.  Many of these collaborations would appear on Dr. John albums.  In 1976, John performed at the farewell concert for the Band, filmed and released as The Last Waltz.

But he ignored warnings from friends and family and continued his drug habit despite numerous attempts at rehabilitation.  Finally, after experiencing cardiac problems in New York City, Dr. John left his final rehabilitation stay, sober, in 1989.  

In addition to his solo recordings, John played piano for the Rolling Stones, backed James Taylor & Carly Simon on "Mockingbird" in 1974, and played on Neil Diamond's 1976 album Beautiful Noise.  John also sang and played piano for Maria Muldaur, co-produced Van Morrison and played keyboards on the landmark debut album by Rickie Lee Jones in 1979.  John has also written and performed in many movies, including the film version of Cannery Row in 1982.

Doctor John won five Grammy Awards in his career.  He released 27 albums and was elected to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, a museum for which they let just about anybody in.  Yet he only had one song of note.

We're up to one of the key instrumentals early in the Rock Era:

  #287:  Raunchy--Bill Justis

Justis studied music at Christian Brothers College in Memphis, Tennessee and Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana.  He played trumpet and saxophone, and performed with local jazz and dance bands while at Tulane.  

After returning to Memphis in 1954, he was hired by Sam Phillips at Sun Records, where he recorded his own music and arranged music for artists such as Roy Orbison, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Charlie Rich.  In 1957, Justis released the single "Raunchy" which he co-wrote.  Billy Vaughn and Ernie Freeman also recorded the song, but the Justis version was the best.  It became the first rock and roll instrumental hit, landing at #2 in the United States, #1 in Australia and #11 in the U.K.  The single also sold over one million copies.  When George Harrison was 14, he performed "Raunchy" for John Lennon and his playing was so perfect that Lennon invited him to play in his band the Quarrymen, which later became the Beatles.

In 1961, Justis moved to Nashville and became a successful producer and arranger for Monument and Mercury Records.  He played sax on the "Kissin' Cousins" Soundtrack and became manager of Ronny & the Daytonas.  Justis enjoyed a #1 song in Australia with "Tamoure", but worldwide success eluded him.  Justis also wrote the music for several movies including Smokey and the Bandit and Hooper.

"College Man" at #42 would be the next-best song that Justis recorded.  

Up next, a keyboard whiz:

  #286:  Axel F--Harold Faltermeyer

Faltermeyer began playing piano at the age of 6 and he spent his youth training in classical music.  He played organ in a rock combo and studied trumpet and piano at the Munich Music Academy.

While waiting to begin his university studies, Faltermeyer began working at a recording studio.  Within three years, he was engineering major classical sessions for Deutsche Grammophon Records.  In 1978, Georgio Moroder discovered his talent and brought him to Los Angeles to play keyboards and arrange the soundtrack to Midnight Express.  Moroder and Faltermeyer worked together over the next decade, producing albums for Donna Summer and many other artists.

Faltermeyer also worked on the score for American Gigolo and was soon writing songs, performing and producing complete movie scores and songs for other artists.  

Faltermeyer's big break came when he wrote the score for Beverly Hills Cop.  One of the tracks ("Axel F") was credited to him as an artist.  "Axel F" was released as a single and reached #3 overall and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart in the United States.  It was also #1 in Ireland and the Netherlands and #2 in the U.K., Canada and Switzerland.

Faltermeyer went on to record three albums, but his work with other artists is well recognized.  Faltermeyer wrote, arranged and/or produced four albums for Summer (including Bad Girls), and has worked with Barbra Streisand,  Bob Seger, Blondie, Cheap Trick, Glenn Frey, Laura Branigan, Billy Idol, Jennifer Rush, Bonnie Tyler and the Pet Shop Boys, just to name a few.  He won a Grammy for Best Album of Original Score as a co-writer of the "Beverly Hills Cop" Soundtrack and another for Best Pop Instrumental Performance for the "Top Gun Anthem" from the soundtrack.

This Canadian group struck it big in 1972:

  #285:  Last Song--Edward Bear 

Larry Evoy and Craig Hemming first formed the Toronto, Ontario, Canada group Edward Bear in 1966.  They signed with Capitol Records in 1969 with a lineup that included Evoy, Danny Marks and Paul Welson.  

In 1972, the group scored its hit when "Last Song" reached #1 in Canada and #3 in the United States and sold over one million copies.  Evoy rebuilt the group twice before Edward Bear finally broke up.

This artist took a Brenda Russell song and made it into a hit:

  #284:  Oleta Adams--Get Here       

Adams grew up with gospel music and, after moving first to Yakima, Washington then Los Angeles, was rejected by most music executives.  Following the advice of her singing coach, Lee Farrell, Adams moved to Kansas City, Missouri and performed local shows.  Oleta began her career in the early 1980's with two albums she financed herself that were not successful.

In 1985, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith of Tears for Fears discovered Adams performing in a hotel bar in Kansas City while the group were on tour.  Two years later, the duo invited Adams to sing on their album The Seeds of Love.  The album contained "Woman in Chains", a duet by Adams and Orzabal with Phil Collins on drums.  

Adams went on a world tour with Tears for Fears in 1990, opening for the group, then remaining onstage with the group to sing and play piano.  Following the tour, Adams signed a recording contract with Fontana Records, with Orzabal co-producing her album Circle of One.  The album peaked at #1 in the U.K. and contained Oleta's cover of Brenda Russell's "Get Here".  

"Get Here" reached #4 in the U.K. and #5 in the United States and was nominated for a Grammy Award.  Adams recorded "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me" for the Elton John tribute album Two Rooms, and it became a minor hit in the U.K.  But despite 8 albums and 17 singles, Adams never again found the magic that would result in a major worldwide hit.

One of the Rock Era's great instrumentals gave this duo its one and only hit:

  #283:  Dueling Banjos--Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell  

Weissberg graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Julliard School of Music.  He played with the Tarriers as a singer, banjo player, guitarist and mandolin player.  The Tarriers opened for Judy Collins on a tour of Poland and Russia, but split shortly after.  

However, Collins was impressed enough with Weissberg to invite him to play on her 1965 album Fifth Album and others in her career.  It was in this direction that Weissberg chose to go, playing on albums by Bob Dylan, John Denver, Billy Joel, Jim Croce, Melanie, Art Garfunkel and others.  

"Dueling Banjos" was written by Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith.  The version by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell was #2 for four weeks in 1973, behind only the Roberta Flack classic "Killing Me Softly With His Song".  

This next group made quite an impression in concerts:

#282:  Run-Around Blues Traveler 

Blues Traveler began as a high school garage band in Princeton, New Jersey in 1987. Singer, guitarist and harmonica player John Popper and drummer Brendan Hill formed a group called the Establishment with Hill's brother on bass and a rotating group of guitarists. The group renamed themselves Blues Band, and added guitarist Chan Kinchla and Bobby Sheehan became the new bassist.

Eventually, the group changed to Blues Traveler. After Popper, Hill and Sheehan graduated from Princeton High School, they studied music at The New School while Kinchla went to New York University. Blues Traveler began playing shows on the New York club circuit at places like the Wetlands and the Nightingale. 

Patrick Clifford from A&M Records discovered the band at one of their performances and Blues Traveler signed a recording contract.  The group began a relentless touring schedule up and down the east coast. 

Blues Traveler released their self-titled debut album in 1990 and a second album, Travelers and Thieves, followed in 1991.  After famous promoter Bill Graham's death that year, the group released a live EP, On Tour Forever, as a tribute that included legendary guitarist Carlos Santana.  David Letterman introduced Blues Traveler as "his favorite band" to his audience on the television program The Late Show, and Blues Traveler has made more appearances on that show than any other musical artist.  In 1992, the group founded the H.O.R.D.E Music Festival and began recording their third album Save His Soul.  The single "Conquer Me" became a minor hit on the Mainstream Rock chart.
But it was the album Four that launched the group.  "Run-Around" became a rare Top 15 hit on three formats--Adult Contemporary, Popular and Modern Rock.  Grammy Award and broke a Rock Era record for most weeks on the chart.

The group is known for their improvisational live performances.  Sheehan's death and Popper's struggle with obesity limited their success, and A&M Records dropped the group in 2002.

A great garage rock song is next:

  #281:  Double Shot (of My Baby's Love)--Swingin' Medallions 

The group formed in Greenwood, South Carolina in 1962 as the Medallions, adding the "Swingin'" in 1965.  Original members were keyboardists John McElrath and Ken Johnson,  guitarist Jim Doares, Carroll Bledsoe and Charles Webber on trumpet, Brent Forston and Steven Caldwell on sax, bassist James Perkins and drummers Irven Hicks, Joe Morris and Richard Wrenn.  Johnny Cox and Hack Bartley replaced Fortson and Caldwell in 1967.

The Swingin' Medallions released their first single "I Wanna' Be Your Guy", which did not chart.  But the second, "Double Shot (Of My Baby's Love)" hit #17.  But the best they could do after that was #71 with "She Drives Me Out of My Mind".

The group continued to popular in the American South and in 2009, reunited do do their One Hit Wonder with Bruce Springsteen at his concert in Greenville, South Carolina.  

One of several artists in our feature to be honored with a Grammy nomination is next:

  #280:  Misty Blue--Dorothy Moore  

Moore began singing with The New Strangers Home Baptist Church Choir at age five and graduated from Lanier High School in Jackson, Mississippi.  While attending Jackson State University, Dorothy formed an all-female group called the Poppies.  The group recorded for Date Records, a subsidiary of Epic, and hit #56 in 1966 with "Lullaby Of Love".  
Moore recorded singles for Avco, GSF and Chimneyville that were never released.  Then in 1976, Moore recorded "Misty Blue" for Malaco Records.  The song reached #3 overall and #1 R&B and Moore was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female.  Her version of the Willie Nelson song "Funny How Time Slips Away" and "I Believe You" were R&B hits as well, with the latter reaching #27, but Moore would never land another Top 20 hit after "Misty Blue" despite 16 album and 13 single releases.

Dorothy left the music industry for several years but in 1986, recorded the gospel album Givin' It Straight To You.  Moore began her own recording label called Farish Street Records, honoring the street and neighborhood where she grew up.  Dorothy has been inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame and was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Monterey Bay Blues Festival.  

The story of this next One Hit Wonder becomes all the more amazing when you realize the tremendous musicianship of the group:

  #279:  Hocus Pocus--Focus  

Classically-trained organist/flautist Thijs van Leer formed the group Focus in 1969.  Elite guitarist Jan Akkerman, bassist Martin Dresden and drummer Hans Cleuver joined van Leer and issued their debut album Focus Plays Focus in 1970.  The album was not noticed outside their native the Netherlands, but the group attracted a small but loyal following in their homeland.  
Akkerman left the group to form another band with bassist Cyril Havermans and drummer Pierre van der Linden.  When Cleuver and Dresden left Focus, Van Leer joined Akkerman, Van der Linden and Havermans as the new lineup of Focus. In 1971, the group released Focus II, which contained the massive worldwide instrumental hit "Hocus Pocus".  Later in the year, Havermans quit and was replaced by Bert Ruiter.

The double album Focus 3 was panned by critics who said the material didn't warrant a double album.  It did contain the single "Sylvia", which was a hit in Europe but failed to become recognized worldwide.  Future attempts met with declining success, though the group has released 11 albums and 8 singles.

"Hocus Pocus" was the theme for the Nike 2010 World Cup commercial, giving Focus renewed fame.  The group has reunited several times with different lineups.

This ordinary working guy who had a passion for music realized his dream in 1974:

  #278:  Be Thankful for What You Got--William DeVaughn   

DeVaughn was a drafting technician and part-time singer when he wrote "A Cadillac Don't Come Easy".  The song was eventually reworked to become "Be Thankful for What You Got", and DeVaughn worked with Omega Sound production studio in Philadelphia.
DeVaughn recorded the song at Sigma Sound Studios, with accompaniment by members of MFSB ("TSOP" from 1974) and the song was released on Roxbury Records.  "Be Thankful for What You Got" sold nearly two million copies and reached #4 (#1 R&B) in the United States and #31 in the U.K.  

When success was realized, DeVaughn quit his government job to record an album.  "Blood Is Thicker Than Water", however, was only a top 50 song and future efforts paled in comparison to his big hit.  DeVaughn lost interest in the industry and went back to work as a draftsman.  

At #277: these prolific and important songwriters:

  #277:  I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight--Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart 

Bobby Hart served in the Army after leaving high school.  Upon his discharge, Bobby moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a singer.  Tommy Boyce was also in the city working on the same thing, and wrote "Be My Guest" for Fats Domino.  The song reached #8 in the United States and #11 in the U.K. and sold over one million copies.

Boyce and Hart met in 1959 and formed a successful songwriting partnership.  They wrote "Come a Little Bit Closer" for Jay & the Americans, "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" for Paul Revere and the Raiders and "Words" for the Monkees, as well as the theme song for the daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives.  Hart also co-wrote "Hurt So Bad" for Little Anthony & the Imperials.

The duo wrote, produced and performed the soundtrack for the first episode of the television show the Monkees.  Boyce and Hart recorded all the backing tracks for the first season of the show and the group's debut album.  Every studio album from the group included songs written by Boyce and Hart.

The pair also began to record on their own, releasing three albums on A&M Records.  In 1968, the song "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight" caught on and reached #8.  It also sold over one million copies.  They came close to the Top 20 with "Alice Long" (#27) and also charted with "Out and About" (#39).  Boyce & Hart's music was also featured on the television show Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie and The Flying Nun and I.

Boyce and Hart also produced music for motion pictures and created commercial jingles for Coca Cola and the United States Army Reserve.  In the mid-1970's, Boyce and Hart reunited with Davy Jones and Micky Dolenz to perform the songs Boyce and Hart had written for the Monkees a decade earlier.  They toured venues throughout North America, Japan and Thailand.  

All told, Boyce and Hart wrote over 300 songs and their music sold more than 42 million records.  So although they only had one hit as performing artists, they made contributions to the Rock Era that go beyond their recording career.

This talented artist gave us one of the big hits of 1980:

  #276:  Somebody's Knockin'--Terri Gibbs 

Born blind, Gibbs learned how to play the piano at age three.  She sang in the church choir in Grovetown, Georgia as a youth and at age seventeen, opened a concert for Bill Anderson.  Chet Atkins advised Terri to move to Nashville, Tennessee to pursue a career limited to country music, which she did at age eighteen.

Unable to land a recording contract at first, Gibbs joined the band Sound Dimension and then started the Terri Gibbs Trio, which performed at Steak & Ale in Augusta, Georgia.  Gibbs sent a demo tape to producer Ed Penney of MCA Records, and finally signed a contract in 1980.
Gibbs recorded the album Somebody's Knockin', and the title track was released as a single.  It reached #13 overall and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Country Song.  "Rich Man" was a minor country hit but just skimmed the popular chart.

Committed to country music even though she did better with popular music, Gibbs' second album, I'm a Lady, was not as successful as her debut.  Gibbs released eight albums and 13 singles in her career, but with only a limited audience to hear her music, she was never able to match "Somebody's Knockin'".  

As one of the videos said, if you like these songs and artists, support them by buying the CD!  More great artists who created wonderful memories for us all coming tomorrow on Inside The Rock Era!

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