1974 Wet Willie – Keep On Smilin’

1974 Wet Willie – Keep On Smilin’

In the Summer of 1969, drummer Lewis Ross formed the band Fox in Macon, Georgia and began playing Southern Boogie music. The other initial members included John David Anthony on keyboards, Jack Hall on bass, his brother Jimmy on vocals, harmonica, and saxophone, and Ricky Hirsch on guitar. The band was fortunate enough to become the opening band for the Allman Brothers Band in 1971.

The band recorded nine albums in the seventies and began releasing singles in 1971. Their first charting single arrived in 1974 with the release of Keep On Smilin’. While the single wasn’t one of the top hundred records that year, it spent one week at #10 in August before falling completely off the Hot 100 two weeks later.

The group reached #30 with their single Street Corner Serenade in 1978 and #29 in 1979 with Weekend, but none of their other singles reached the top forty.

The group recorded its last new album in 1979 but continues to tour, mostly in the Southeast. The album title posed the question, Which One’s Willie. While that was probably meant as a joke, we can finally answer that question: when Jimmy Hall is present, the band appears as Wet Willie; otherwise, it appears as The Wet Willie Band.

The band has its own website at
http://www.ktb.net/~insync/wet_willie.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_Willie

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1974 Gordon Sinclair – The Americans

1974 Gordon Sinclair – The Americans

The Red Cross has worked tirelessly for decades to provide support to areas hit by natural disasters. June 5, 1973, the Red Cross ran out of money due to a series of disasters.

One Canadian journalist was inspired by the problems the US was facing at that time and broadcast an editorial on the radio he titled The Americans. In the editorial, he pointed out how the Americans were always there worldwide to help anybody that was impacted by a crisis, but when the Americans needed help, nobody showed up to help.

The magazine, U.S. News & World Report, published the complete transcript of his editorial. Washington DC Radio station WWDC-AM began broadcasting the editorial backed with Bridge Over Troubled Water playing in the background.

Byron MacGregor read the editorial on the air on CKLW during a public affairs program. The response facilitated a recording of the editorial with The Detroit Symphony Orchestra playing America The Beautiful as background music.

Bryon’s single reached the Hot 100 the first week of 1974 and peaked at #4 the second week of February. He titled his single Americans and it sold over three and a half million copies.

Gordon also recorded a copy of his editorial as a single entitled The Americans. His version used The Battle Hymn Of The Republic (Glory, Glory Hallelujah) as the background music. The single reached the Hot 100 the second week of 1974 and reached #24 in February.

Happy ending: the proceeds from the records appear to have gone directly to the Red Cross.

Gordon also entered the record books with his single. He was the second oldest performer to reach the top forty on the Hot 100. Gordon was 73 years old when the record reached the chart. Moms Mabley is the only older performer to reach the chart; she was 75 years old in 1969 when her cover version of Abraham, Martin, and John reached #35 on the Hot 100.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gordon_Sinclair
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byron_MacGregor

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1973 King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight

1973 King Harvest – Dancing In The Moonlight

Ron Altbach, Rod Novak, Dave “Doc” Robinson, and Ed Tuleja attended college at Cornell University in New York. They all moved to Paris and formed a band in 1970.

Sherman Kelly and his brother Wells recorded music with the band Boffalongo. Ethan and Steve Nathanson produced a single they released in 1970 that Sherman wrote, Dancing In The Moonlight. Nobody seems to have paid much attention to that release.

Wells joined King Harvest as their drummer, and he introduced the band to his brother’s song. Wells then moved back to the US before the group recorded the song. The group recruited a new drummer, and Jack Robinson produced the band’s recording of Dancing In The Moonlight.

They released the single in Paris and the UK in 1970 and toured in France and England to support the song, but they were unable to reach the charts. The group disbanded.

Perception Records bought the recording and released it worldwide. The record started climbing the charts in 1972, and the original four members of King Harvest responded by reforming and touring in the US. The single peaked at #13 on the Hot 100 and #22 on the Adult Contemporary chart in early 1973.

The band recorded an album, but could not find another hit single and disbanded again.

Ron, Rod, and Ed later toured as backing musicians for the Beach Boys. Ed also played on a Dennis Wilson album; Ron and Dave became members of Mike Love’s band Celebration.

Wells became one of the founding members of the band Orleans, who had top ten hits later in the seventies with Dance With Me and Still The One.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Harvest
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_in_the_Moonlight

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1972 Joey Heatherton – Gone

1972 Joey Heatherton – Gone

Ray Heatherton was a famous actor and singer on Broadway who starred in an early television show, The Merry Mailman. He and Davenie Ross Watson met and appeared together in the Broadway play Babes in Arms, and they married in 1941. They had a daughter, Davenie Johanna Heatherton, in 1944. She began studying ballet when she turned six and later progressed to modern jazz dance, singing, and acting.

She used the name Joey Heatherton when she began appearing on television shows as a child actor. She first appeared on her Dad’s show, and at 15 she became an understudy on Broadway in the original version of The Sound Of Music.

In 1960-1961, Joey had a recurring role on Perry Como’s television show. She played a teenager who had a crush on Perry. On one episode, she talked and sang a duet with Brenda Lee (a young singer with a number one record who seemed surprised that Joey didn’t have a hit record yet since she was already 16).

Joey visited The Tonight Show a few times and even tried to coach Johnny on “modern” dances.

They chose Joey to sing the song and introduce the dance that was named after the show  Hullabaloo. The song became one of her early singles, but neither the song nor the dance caught on.

From 1965 to 1977, Joey appeared with Bob Hope on his USO tours and in many of his television specials. Joey appeared multiple times singing and dancing on the Hollywood Palace, the Mike Douglas Show, the Merv Griffin Show, and she was the co-hosted the summer replacement show for the Dean Martin Show.

She finally got a hit single of her own in 1972. She covered the 1957 Ferlin Husky song Gone. Joey’s single peaked at #24 on the Hot 100. Joey recorded an album that was re-released in 2004; the new album cover used a topless picture of Joey that is snuck into a lot of the YouTube videos (but not the one I’ve linked in).

Ironically, Joey’s only other visit to the Hot 100 came later that year when she covered Brenda’s chart-topping song I’m Sorry. Sadly, Joey’s single peaked at only #87.

Joey continued appearing regularly on television and in films. Her last major role came in 1990 in John Waters’ film Cry-Baby.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joey_Heatherton

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1972 Partridge Family – It’s One Of Those Nights (Yes, Love)

1972 Partridge Family – It’s One Of Those Nights (Yes, Love) 

Actress Evelyn Ward and actor Jack Cassidy appeared together in the 1945 Broadway musical The Firebrand of Florence and married each other three years later. They had one son, David Cassidy. His parents divorced and his father married actress/singer Shirley Jones. 

David appeared alongside his mother in the play And So to Bed in Los Angeles in 1967. The next year, after earning a high school diploma, David began living with his father in New York, pursuing an acting career.

David and his step-mother appeared in an unaired pilot for The Partridge Family television show in 1969. A second pilot that led to the series aired in 1970. Jack had played Shirley’s boyfriend in the first pilot, but was dropped before the second pilot filmed. The show presented a family patterned after the Cowsills that recorded pop music. 

Several songs were recorded for the show using members of the Wrecking Crew and the Ron Hicklin Singers. When they discovered that David could actually sing, the show began recording music that featured David and Shirley singing. Although they did a fair job of pretending to play instruments, the other actors in the family never appeared on any of the recordings.

The show ran from 1970 to 1974. During the first two seasons, the first three singles released from the show reached the top forty on the Hot 100. The fourth singleI Woke Up In Love This Morning stalled at #13 in 1971. 

David quickly became a teen idol, and in 1971, he also began releasing solo records. His first single, a cover of the Association hit Cherish, peaked in the top ten on the Hot 100 and topped the Adult Contemporary chart. 

In 1972, the single It’s One Of Those Nights (Yes Love) from the television show reached #20 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

One last single from the show reached the top forty in 1972. The cover of Breaking Up Is Hard To Do stalled at #28 on the Hot 100.

David had a few more solo hits in the US, but did surprisingly better in the UK. Two singles that didn’t do well the US reached the top of the UK chart, and David had six more top twenty songs in the UK by the end of 1975. He even returned to the top ten on the UK chart in 1985 with The Last Kiss, a single that failed to chart in the US.

David returned to the US Hot 100 top forty in 1990 and 1998 with two songs that I simply don’t recall ever hearing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Partridge_Family
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Partridge_Family_discography
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Cassidy

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1966 Pozo-Seco Singers – I Can Make It With You

1966 Pozo-Seco Singers – I Can Make It With You

Susan Taylor began singing folk music in several groups while in high school in Corpus Christi in the early sixties. Meanwhile, Don Williams and Lofton Kline were singing as a duo called the Strangers. The three met up at a hootenanny and began singing together as a trio in 1964. The group’s name, the Pozo-Seco Singers, came from a local colloquial term that referred to a dry oil well.

Michael Merchant had sung with Susan before he left to go to college, and he wrote a song that he brought to the group during a break. The group recorded Time on the small Edmark Records label with Susan singing lead vocals. The record became a regional hit. Columbia Records signed the group to a recording contract and took the single nationwide.

The record peaked at only #47 on the Hot 100 in early 1966, but reached #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Columbia Records staff member Bob Johnston had just been assigned to produce records for Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel. Columbia also assigned him to produce the Pozo-Seco Singers. They recorded another song written by Michael, but it barely reached #92 on the Hot 100.

Bob arranged and produced the band singing I Can Make It With You Baby, a song written by Chip Taylor that featured shared vocals by Susan and Don. That turned out to be their biggest hit. The single reached #32 on the Hot 100 in the Summer of 1966.

Lofton did not enjoy touring and disliked working with Bob, and he left the group in 1967. Ron Shaw filled his spot in the group and they began appearing as Pozo Seco.

The group released several singles that did not do well. They then recorded and wanted to release I Believed It All, a song that Ron introduced them to that had become popular in concerts. Bob did not like that song and relegated it to the b-side of a different single, Excuse Me Dear Martha. When the a-side of the record did not even reach the Hot 100, many disc jockeys flipped the record over and began playing I Believed It All. That side of the single stopped at #96 on the Hot 100, but the record reached #8 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Ron left the group by 1968. The remaining duo recorded two more albums with different producers, but they struggled to find hits when Columbia failed to provide much promotional support. The group switched to another record label for their final album and disbanded in 1970.

Susan began writing songs for JMI Music and recorded a new solo album on the label in 1972. At least a half-dozen prominent Country artists have recorded her songs.

Don had left the music industry, but Susan helped with Don’s first few single recordings after he also signed with JMI Music. Don began recording Country music rather than folk music. He reached the top twenty on the Country chart five times in 1973 and early 1974. Later in 1974, Don reached the top of the Country chart with the single I Wouldn’t Want to Live If You Didn’t Love Me. He went on to record at least 44 top ten Country singles including 16 more #1 Country hits.

Susan began appearing as Taylor Pie and has continued her career as a folk singer to the present day. Elizabeth Ahlstrom directed the 2020 documentary Nobody Famous, which tells the story of Susan’s journey as a folksinger. The film has won several awards at film festivals around the United States. You can see a trailer for the film here: https://www.facebook.com/nobodyfamousofficial/videos/907451393079012

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pozo-Seco Singers
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taylor_Pie
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Williams
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Williams_discography
https://www.facebook.com/nobodyfamousofficial/

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1975 Leon Russell – Lady Blue

1975 Leon Russell – Lady Blue

It’s difficult to know how to categorize Leon Russell.

He wrote a large number of hit records during his career, including (but certainly not limited to) Everybody Loves A Clown, She’s Just My StyleDelta LadySuperstarA Song For You, and This Masquerade.

He worked as a session musician appearing on countless hit records playing piano, keyboards, guitar, xylophone, and harpsichord. He also arranged and produced records.

In 1970, he organized and led the Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour.

While he had only a few hit singles, he released six gold albums.

Leon recorded his last top forty single on the Hot 100 in 1975. His single of Lady Blue reached #14 that year. Two more singles followed in 1976, but they only reached #53 and #52.

Earlier in his career, Leon recorded and released an album using the pseudonym Hank Wilson. He was no doubt exposed to Country music in the fifties and early sixties while he was growing up in Tulsa, and felt the need to lean into Country. It was an album of Country songs, and three singles from the album touched either the Hot 100 or the Country charts. Leon briefly toured with Willie Nelson, and in 1979 they released a single. The duet was a cover of the Elvis tune, Heartbreak Hotel. The single reached #1 on the Country charts that year and got nominated for a Grammy award. He later won a Grammy award for a Country instrumental version of Foggy Mountain Breakdown in 2001.

Leon was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. He died at the age of 74 after complications from a heart attack in 2016.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leon_Russell#Singles
https://www.grammy.com/grammys/artists/leon-russell

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1971 The Grass Roots – Temptation Eyes

1971 The Grass Roots – Temptation Eyes

Lou Adler was a songwriter and producer who worked with Herb Alpert to co-manage Jan and Dean in the late fifties. They also co-wrote Wonderful World with Sam Cooke.

In 1964, he started Dunhill Records. He produced records for the Mamas and The Papas.

He hired P. F. Sloan and Steve Barri to write and produce records for his new label. Their first big success came when they wrote Eve Of Destruction, which they produced with Lou. The single topped the charts for Barry McGuire.

Sloan and Barri recorded some demos with a familiar list of musicians: Sloan sang the lead vocals and played guitar and Larry Knechtel, Joe Osborn and Bones Howe provided instrumental backups. One of the demos was for the song Where Were You When I Needed You. The demo was pressed for distribution to radio stations in the San Francisco area and credited on the label to a fictional band, The Grass Roots. Reaction to the demo was sufficient to convince the label to field an actual band.

The Bedouins had won a battle of the Bands contest in San Mateo, and the band members were recruited, including Willie Fulton as the lead vocalist. The group’s released a cover of the Bob Dylan song Mr. Jones (Ballad of a Thin Man) as their first single, but it failed to chart. A new version of Where Were You When I Needed You that used Willie’s vocals became their second release. The Grass Roots became the house band at a club in Hollywood. They also demanded that they be allowed to record some of their own blues-related songs for their album, but Dunhill Records declined that opportunity. And fired them.

The single peaked at #28 on the Hot 100 in 1966.

Dunhill tried to recruit the Robbs, a band from Wisconsin, but the band turned them down. The next band they offered to hire was a Los Angeles band, the 13th Floor. The members of the band were Creed Bratton on vocals and guitar), Rick Coonce on drums, Warren Entner on vocals, guitar, and keyboards, and Kenny Fukomoto on vocals and bass. Kenny was drafted, and eventually Rob Grill took his place. They gave the new band the choice of a new name or the existing name of the Grass Roots, which became their pick.

The band covered a song by the British band the Rokes, Lets Live For Today, and their single popped into the top ten on the Hot 100 in 1967.

Thanks to the label’s successes, Lou was able to sell his label to ABC Records. He then started another label, Ode Records. He signed Carole King to the label and produced four of her albums. Sloan left the label to pursue a solo career, but the band continued working with Barri.

The Grass Roots released seven more top forty singles in the next three years. Most of the records were written by various Dunhill Records’ staff members and used the Wrecking Crew for musical backup. Creed became disenchanted with not getting to write their music, and he left the group in 1969 and Terry Furlong joined the band. Terry played on some of the group’s recordings, but wasn’t interested in touring, so Brian Naughton joined the group as well.

In late 1971, the group recorded a song written by Harvey Price and Daniel Walsh that stayed on the charts longer than any of their other records. That single, Temptation Eyes, spent 18 weeks on the charts but peaked at only #15 on the Hot 100.

The next year the band reached the top ten once more with Sooner Or Later and #16 with Two Divided By Love. Two more singles peaked in the thirties, after which they never found their way onto the top forty again.

Rob and Warren recruited three new members when the rest of the group left in 1972, and Warren left the group in 1974. Rob continued leading a touring group of the Grass Roots at oldies shows and the band even recorded a few live albums in 2000 and 2008. Rob died after a stroke in 2011.

Current members of the band have been members since as early as 1984.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Grass_Roots

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1971 Freda Payne – Bring The Boys Home

1971 Freda Payne – Bring The Boys Home

Freday Payne grew up in Detroit and was talented enough to attend Detroit Institute of Musical Arts as a teenager. When she was about 21, she moved to New York City and began recording jazz albums.

In 1969, Freda signed with the Invictus record label, which was owned by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Edward Holland, Jr. Her first single did not perform well. After that disappointment, Eddie offered her a song he and Brian had co-written with Ron Dunbar: Band Of Gold. The backing musicians were an amazing collection of future stars: vocals from Joyce Vincent Wilson and Telma Hopkins (who later became members of Dawn), Ray Parker, Jr. on lead guitar, Dennis Coffey (Scorpio) on electric sitar, and the Funk Brothers.

Brian and Lamont produced her single, which peaked at #3 on the Hot 100 in early 1970. The record also reached #20 on the R&B chart and hit the top of the chart in the UK.

Many of the same musicians helped create her next single. Deeper and Deeper peaked at only #24 on the Hot 100, but reached the top ten on the R&B chart.

Freda had a few more hits on the R&B chart, but only reached the top forty on the Hot 100 one more time. She recorded the anti-war protest song Bring The Boys Home in 1971. The single peaked at #12 on the Hot 100. It was her most successful record on the R&B chart, where it reached #3.

Freda’s singing career was all but over after 1971, even though she continued recording albums through 1979. She transitioned to acting during the next decade. She hosted the talk show Today’s Black Woman in 1981 and followed that with acting roles in plays and film.

Freda returned to recording in 2001. She recorded solo albums as recently as 2014 and recorded with several other artists as well.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freda_Payne

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1970 Pipkins – Gimme Dat Ding

1970 Pipkins – Gimme Dat Ding

For a lot of one-hit wonders, a few musicians get together, get lucky, have a hit, and then fade into obscurity.

But not always; this one-hit wonder involved a lot of talent.

Roger Greenaway and Tony Burrows started singing together while still in school in the mid-fifties. They eventually formed The Kestrels and sang backup vocals for several British acts. Roger Cook joined the group in 1964, and while on tour, the two Rogers began writing songs together. Their early hits in the mid-sixties included You’ve Got Your Troubles by the Fortunes, Green Grass by Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and I Was Kaiser Bill’s Batman by Whistling Jack Smith.

Roger Greenaway began producing records as well, and Tony sang lead on songs for multiple groups. The pair began recording as The Pipkins in 1970.

Albert Hammond and Mike Hazlewood were singer/songwriters who founded the group the Family Dogg. The group had a top ten single in the UK in 1968 with their single A Way Of Life, a song written by Greenaway and Cook.

The group didn’t achieve lasting success, but it did bring Albert and Mike together, and they began co-writing songs. One of those songs was Gimme Dat Ding, a novelty song that the Pipkins recorded for their first album. The Pipkins released that as their first single. The single peaked at #6 in the UK and at #9 on the Hot 100 in 1970.

The Pipkins only recorded a dozen songs and never charted on the Hot 100 again.

Greenaway and Cook went on to write dozens of hit records, including Long Cool Woman In A Black Dress by the Hollies.

Tony sang lead on four records that were in the UK top ten simultaneously in 1970 and later sang lead on Beach Baby by First Class. He claims that as a studio musician, he sang on over a hundred different top twenty hits in the seventies.

Albert Hammond had his biggest hit in 1972 with the top five single It Never Rains in Southern California.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pipkins
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gimme_Dat_Ding

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