Sunday, October 9, 2016

Artists Whose First Hit Was Their Biggest: Part 43

Here is the final edition of our special.  Be sure to check out all the great music in these 43 segments, which you can readily access with our checklist:

Mason Williams
"Classical Gas"

He was a comedy writer on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour from 1967-69 and later on Saturday Night Live in 1980.  The multi-talented Mason Williams also was an author and a photographer and a Folk songwriter and guitarist.  Mason rode this great instrumental to #2 in 1968, but never achieved a Top 40 hit after that.

Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs

Here's the only entry in this special by a South Carolina group.  They hit #1 in 1960, but two other chart entries failed to generate any further interest.

Roger Williams
"Autumn Leaves"

This great Adult artist went to Idaho State, Drake and the Julliard School of Music.  He earned a recording contract when he won on the television show Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts, which was the precursor to American Idol today.  His first hit in 1955 was a monster--#1 for four weeks, which still ranks as The #6 Instrumental of the Rock Era*.  Williams scored 22 more career hits, many of them much bigger on the Easy Listening chart than the Popular chart.  He did manage the #7 hit "Born Free" in 1966 and another Gold record in "Till" from 1957.

J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers
"Last Kiss"

This Texas group scored a big hit in 1964, the #2 song heard here.  Yet Wilson and the Cavaliers could only get as high as #85 after that.

Gary Wright
"Dream Weaver"

Here's the co-leader of the group Spooky Tooth, a band that also included guitarist Mick Jones of Foreigner.  Gary Wright burst on the scene in 1976 with a unique sound which, except for drums, was made up entirely of keyboards.  His first hit went to #2 for three weeks and was #1 in most markets.  Wright came closer than most in our feature of matching his first hit with another #2, "Love Is Alive", and his albums Dream Weaver and Light of Smiles are much better than one might think, with high quality songs such as "Made To Love You", "Power Of Love", "Are You Weepin'", "Time Machine", "Silent Fury" and "Phantom Writer".  Wright also hit #16 with another good song, "Really Wanna' Know You", in 1981.

"Just Kickin' It"

This female trio landed a #2 Platinum record with their initial hit in 1993.  They were always big sellers, collecting four more Gold records and three more Top 10 hits.  But their first hit was by far their biggest.

"For Your Love"

This group from Surrey, England was the basis for one of the most legendary groups in the Rock Era, Led Zeppelin, which formed first under the name the New Yardbirds.  They boast a collection of guitarists that at one time or another included Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton.  The first hit for the Yardbirds, written for them by Graham Gouldman, who later joined 10cc, hit #6.  They landed another Top 10--"Heart Full Of Soul" and four other Top 20's, but their first was their biggest.

Kathy Young with the Innocents
"A Thousand Stars"

This artist from Santa Ana, California rose to #3 with her cover of "A Thousand Stars".  Kathy's next-best attempt stalled at #30.

Timi Yuro

This artist also took a cover song to the Top 5 in 1961.  She scored 11 career hits, but nothing came close to her first.

Zager & Evans
"In The Year 2525"

Which brings us to our last artist in this special, and what a great way to end.  This duo from Lincoln, Nebraska released this song on a regional basis in 1968, but eventually, its popularity spread nationwide, and then worldwide.  Zager & Evan's one and only hit has become a timeless classic.

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