1980 Dr. Hook – Better Love Next Time
George Cummings, Ray Sawyer, and Billy Francis played together in the band the Chocolate Papers in the early sixties. After the group broke up, George got the other two and a few more musicians together and formed a group in 1968. Ray sported an eyepatch because of an automobile accident and that look inspired George to name the group Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. Dennis Locorriere joined the group as their bass player and eventually became their lead singer. Eight other musicians joined the group over the years.
The group toured for three years without a recording contract. Their big break came in 1971 when they were picked to record several Shel Silverstein songs for the film Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? That turned out to be such a good fit that Shel wrote all the songs for the group’s first album, including the top five single Sylvia’s Mother.
The group is probably best known for a song Shel wrote that showed up on their second album, On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone. Ray sang lead vocals on that single, and it not only reached the top ten but also propelled them onto the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine.
In the next two years, the group charted no single higher than #68. George left the group, and they shortened their name to Dr. Hook and signed with Capitol Records. They released the album Bankrupt in 1975 and subsequently released two singles from the album that failed completely.
Sam Cooke wrote and recorded Only Sixteen in 1959. His single only reached #28 on the Hot 100. Dr. Hook released their cover of the song as their third single from the album and finally had another hit: the single reached #6 on the Hot 100 in early 1976.
The group had six top ten singles spread out through the seventies and early eighties. Sandwiched in between the million-selling records When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman and Sexy Eyes, the group released Better Love Next Time. That single still did fairly well even though it didn’t sell a million copies. It peaked at #12 in early 1980.
The group’s last visit to the top forty came in 1982 when Baby Makes Her Blue Jeans Talk reached #25. The video for the record is simply too politically incorrect to get much airplay anymore. It’s not clear if they meant the song to be satire or funny or not.
Dennis has ownership of the group name. He licensed Ray to appear as “Ray Sawyer of Dr. Hook” or “Dr. Hook featuring Ray Sawyer” through 2015, after which Ray retired from public performances. Ray died in 2018.
When his health permits, Dennis still leads a Dr. Hook group on tour.
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