Today we have a lost or forgotten oldie that was a hit in both 1958 and 1980 by two different artists who were each more successful with earlier hits.
Roy Hamilton first landed on the charts in 1954 with four top ten R&B hits beginning with the number one record You’ll Never Walk Alone. In 1955 his recording of Unchained Melody reached the top ten of the pop charts, peaking just below the versions by Les Baxter and Al Hibbler. Lung problems similar to tuberculosis stopped him from recording for a few years. When he was able to record again he charted at #13 in 1958 with Don’t Let Go. The song was produced by Otis Blackwell, who wrote both Don’t Be Cruel and All Shook Up. The single may have the distinction of being the first top forty R&B single to be recorded in stereo. Roy made multiple appearances on American Bandstand and other television shows where he sometimes performed live. He eventually had one more almost top-ten record with You Can Have Her in 1961.
Isaac Hayes co-wrote a number of hit records with Dave Porter of the soul duo Sam and Dave and began his solo career in the late sixties. His last record to reach the top forty was a remake of Don’t Let Go that got up to #19 in 1980. Fortunately, Isaac had a second career that started in the late nineties when he voiced Chef on South Park.
If you’ve ever listened to Isaac’s Hot Buttered Soul album (or CD) you know that it only has four songs on it and they average over ten minutes each. It won’t be a surprise to learn that in addition to the four-minute version of the single there is also a thirteen-minute version.
After he stopped doing voiceover work for South Park, Isaac returned to live performances.