Thursday, September 22, 2016

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest--Part 13

These artists did so well with their first hit that they were never able to match it:

Dionne Farris
"I Know"

This singer, who worked with TLC, El DeBarge and Arrested Development, gave us a great first song in 1995, but we were shocked when there was not another.

Jose Feliciano
"Light My Fire"

This blind, virtuoso acoustic guitarist began performing at age nine.  His remake of the Doors' classic earned him the Best New Artist Grammy Award.  A quality artist, to be sure, who also gave us the Christmas standard "Feliz Navidad", he never got to the Top 20 again.

Jay Ferguson
"Thunder Island"

You'll remember this artist as the leader of the group Spirit ("I Got A Line On You") prior to going solo.  In 1978, Jay Ferguson earned a spot in the Top 10.  Although his follow-up, "Shakedown Cruise", is a worthy listen for many, Jay never came close to that first one.

First Class
"Beach Baby"

It was a little surprising to many that this British studio group was never able to follow up their 1974 smash.  The best they did after that was #74.

Miss Toni Fisher
"The Big Hurt"

Miss Toni Fisher did not write this song about baseball great Frank Thomas, whose nickname was the title of Fisher's first hit in 1959.  It was manager Wayne Shanklin that wrote it, and Fisher took it to #3.  The song is famous for featuring a phasing effect as mixing engineer Larry Levine accidentally mixed the mono and stero versions of the song together but out of sync.  It is thought to be either the first or one of the first records to include phasing.  Levine later went on to help producer Phil Spector create his famous "wall of sound" recording technique.

Five Man Electrical Band

With due respect to pretenders, this original version by Canada's Five Man Electrical Band is the definitive one.  It not only reached #3 in 1971; it sold over one million copies.  The group was able to get to #26 after that, but nothing close to this great song.

Five Satins
"In The Still Of The Nite"

Lead singer Fred Parris wrote this now famous song, one of The Top Love Songs of the Rock Era*.  In 1956, it stalled at the unbelievable position of #24, though its status as one of The Top Unknown/Underrated Songs* is secure, as evidenced by that #24 song selling over one million copies.  The people making the charts back then must have been cross-eyed to miss that.  In any case, the group never could match their first hit, and it became the one they are known for.

"Come Softly To Me"

This trio from the capital of Washington state, Olympia, came up with one of the top songs early in the Rock Era with their great first hit.  They were able to reach the Top 10 twice after that, including another #1, "Mr. Blue".  But even that latter song paled in comparison to their great first song from 1959.

"Float On"

In 1977, this act not only reached #2 on the Popular chart but scored one of the biggest R&B hits of the '70s.  Unfortunately, that was the last Top 100 hit they had.

Flying Machine
"Smile A Little Smile For Me"

Here's another British studio group, who were able to score a Gold record with this #5 hit from 1969.  

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