Wand’rin’ Star – Lee Marvin – 1970

June 5, 2018

Wand'ring Star Lee Marvin 1970Sometimes the most unlikely people wind up with a #1 hit – take actor Lee Marvin for instance, and his 1970 song, Wand’rin’ Star.

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  • Lee Marvin was an American film and television actor, best known for his deep voice which made him perfect for playing the roles of cowboys, villains, police detectives, and soldiers.
  • Lee’s acting awards included, an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award, and a Golden Globe Award.
  • Lee served as a US marine during WWII. After the war, he found work as a plumber’s assistant at a local community theatre in New York.  One night, he was asked to replace an actor who had fallen ill during rehearsals. Lee fell in love with acting and the rest is, as they say, history.
  • But, we’re interested in his song… Lee gained a the role in the 1969 movie, The Wild Bunch but fell out with the movie’s director, Sam Peckinpah.  He pulled out of the movie and took a role alongside Clint Eastwood in the Western musical Paint Your Wagon.
  • No one would claim Lee was a great singer but, despite that, he had a hit song with “Wand’rin’ Star”.
  • This was back in 1970, and he was getting paid a million dollars per film—a phenomenal amount at the time.
  • Lee featured in around 65 movies and several television programmes and series.
  • Lee died of a heart attack on August 29, 1987.

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  • Wand’rin’ Star was written by Alan J. Lerner (lyrics) and Frederick Loewe (music) for the stage musical Paint Your Wagon in 1951.
  • In 1969, a movie version was released starring Lee Marvin and Clint Eastwood. Lee took the role of prospector Ben Rumson who had a number of songs in the film, including Wand’rin Star.
  • It was initially suggested that Lee mime to the voices of other singers but, despite his limited singing ability, he refused.
  • Wand’ring Star hit #1 in the UK and Ireland keeping The Beatles’ Let it Be at #2 in the UK. It was Lee’s only single. It didn’t feature on the US charts.
  • The B-Side to Lee’s version featured I Talk to the Trees—also from Paint Your Wagon—by Clint Eastwood.
  • In 1990, Wand’rin’ Star was covered by English comedian Julian Clary. It was also covered by Shane MacGowan and The Popes on their 1997 album, The Crock of Gold.
  • Wand’ring Star lyrics.

wand’ring star – lee marvin – 1970

i talk to the trees – clint eastwood – 1970

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Magnet and Steel – Walter Egan – 1978

May 30, 2018

Magnet_and_SteelHere’s one you forgot about – Walter Egan’s rather easy-going 1978 gold record hit, Magnet and Steel.

walter egan fax

  • Despite releasing around a dozen singles, American muso, Walter Egan, can probably be considered a one hit wonder.
  • Walter graduated from uni with a degree in Fine Arts, majoring in sculpture.
  • Barely out of his teens, Walter began writing songs and played guitar in a college band known as Sageworth and Drums. The band broke up in 1971, Walter moved to LA and began his career as a solo artist.
  • In LA, Walter met members of Fleetwood Mac – Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks produced his first album, Fundamental Roll, and songs on his second album, Not Shy.
  • Walter’s highest charting song was Magnet and Steel (#8 on the US charts). He also wrote Hearts on Fire, which was covered by Gram Parsons on his album Grievous Angel, and Hot Summer Nights, which was the first hit for the band Night, which included such session musicians as Nicky Hopkins and Robbie McIntosh.
  • Walter is credited as a co-writer of the Eminem hit We Made You because Dr. Dre, who produced the song, believed he was inspired by the bass line from Hot Summer Nights.
  • Walter remains involved in the music industry and, as recently as 2011 produced an album titled Raw Elegant.
  • Walter is also known for appearances on US game shows. In 1985, he was a four-time champion on Catchphrase. In 1986, he appeared as a contestant on the television game show Scrabble. During his introduction on the latter show, Walter was introduced as a singer and songwriter. When the show’s host asked Walter to sing something he’d written, he sang the main chorus of Magnet and Steel.
  • Walter is apparently currently employed as a substitute teacher in Williamson County, Tennessee, near Franklin.

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  • Magnet and Steel was written by Walter Egan. Released in May 1978, it was the first single from Walter’s, second solo album, Not Shy.
  • Magnet and Steel peaked at #8 on the US singles chart.
  • Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham sang background vocals and co-produced the song. The third producer was Richard Dashut who produced a number of Fleetwood Mac albums, including: Rumours, Tusk and Mirage.
  • Stevie Nicks is said to be Walter’s inspiration for the song.
  • Magnet and Steel features in at least three movies: Boogie Nights (1997), Overnight Delivery (1998) and Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo (1999).
  • Magnet and Steel lyrics.

magnet and steel – walter egan – 1978 – video

Sometimes the YouTube links dropout – if this link doesn’t work, please go to YouTube and search for the song – it will be worth it!

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Kung Fu Fighting – Carl Douglas – 1974

April 26, 2018

Kung Fu FightingRiding on the crest of the kung fu movie craze of the early-mid 70’s, Carl Douglas scored a massive 1974 hit with Kung Fu Fighting.

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  • Carl Douglas was born in Jamaica in 1942 and began his music career in 1961.
  • Carl grew up in both Jamaica and California before moving to the UK to study sound engineering.
  • His first foray into performing came in 1964 when he formed the band Big Stampede. They released two singles with no chart impact.
  • By the early 1970s, Carl was a session musician with Pye Records.
  • In 1974, Indian-born music producer Biddu asked Carl to provide the vocals for a song, I Want to Give You My Everything. Biddu then gave Carl some music for lyrics Carl had written about Kung Fu.  It was a smash hit.  So much so that, Carl’s entire music career has been overshadowed by his 1974 hit, Kung Fu Fighting.
  • Carl was the first Jamaican to score a #1 hit in the USA.
  • The follow-up to Kung Fu Fighting—Dance the Kung Fu—bombed in the USA, but made it to #20 in the UK. Despite other minor successes, Carl is considered a one-hit wonder.
  • Carl now lives in Hamburg, Germany and owns a production company that supplies music for films and advertisements.

kung fu fighting fax

  • The writing of Kung Fu Fighting is credited to Carl Douglas, who, it is said, recorded it in ten minutes.
  • It was released as a single in 1974 and rode the crest of the martial arts movie craze of that time.
  • Kung Fu Fighting hit #1 on the singles charts in the UK, US, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, and New Zealand. It made the top ten in a number of other countries.
  • The song eventually sold eleven million records worldwide and is one of the best-selling singles of all time.
  • Kung Fu Fighting was rated number 100 in VH1’s 100 Greatest one-hit wonders, and number 1 in the UK Channel 4’s Top 10 One Hit Wonders list in 2000.
  • In 1998, British dance act, Bus Stop released a Kung Fu Fighting remix which sampled the original vocals by Carl Douglas and included added rap verses. It peaked at #8 on the UK singles chart.
  • In 2008, American artist, CeeLo Green covered Kung-Fu Fighting. His version appeared on the soundtrack for the movie, Kung Fu Panda.
  • Kung Fu Fighting lyrics.

kung fu fighting – carl douglas – 1974 – video

Sometimes the YouTube links dropout – if this link doesn’t work, please go to YouTube and search for the song – it will be worth it!

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Stuck in the Middle with You – Stealers Wheel – 1973

March 9, 2017

Stuck in the Middle with You - Stealers Wheel - 1973I can’t believe we haven’t visited this tune before now… from the One Hit Wonder files, Stealers Wheel’s fabulous 1973 hit, Stuck in the Middle with You.

stealers wheel fax

  • Stealers Wheel was formed by school mates Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan in Scotland back in 1972.
  • Having released three albums and five singles, the band broke up in 1975. They reformed in 2008 without Gerry or Joe who had long since gone onto finer things.
  • Gerry’s musical career is well-known and includes the wonderful Baker Street (cue for saxophone solo). In 2011, Gerry died of liver failure having thrashed it over the years – his alcoholism has been widely documented.  Gerry’s first band, before Stealers Wheel, was the Humblebums which included comedian Billy Connolly.  Billy and Gerry were close friends right until Gerry’s death.
  • Stealers Wheel’s self-titled first album was released in 1972. It was produced by Leiber and Stroller and reached #50 on the US album charts.  Their hit Stuck in the Middle with You was lifted from this album.  By the time of release, Gerry had already left the band.

stuck in the middle with you fax

  • Stuck in the Middle with You was written by Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan, recorded by their band Stealers Wheel, and released as a single on 27 April 1973. It was produced by renowned American producers, Leiber and Stroller.
  • The song peaked at #6 on the US singles chart and #8 on the UK chart. It sold over one million copies.
  • Stuck in the Middle with You is famously used in Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 debut film Reservoir Dogs. Quentin once said of the song:

That was one of those things where I thought [the song] would work really well, and [during] auditions, I told the actors that I wanted them to do the torture scene, and I’m gonna use ‘Stuck in the Middle with You,’ but they could pick anything they wanted, they didn’t have to use that song. And a couple people picked another one, but almost everyone came in with ‘Stuck in the Middle with You,’ and they were saying that they tried to come up with something else, but that’s the one. The first time somebody actually did the torture scene to that song, the guy didn’t even have a great audition, but it was like watching the movie. I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is gonna be awesome!’

stuck in the middle with you – stealers wheel – 1973 – video

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Hocus Pocus – Focus – 1973

August 5, 2015

Focus Hocus Pocus single cover

Remember the days of prog. rock with bands like Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis and Rush? Well, stuck in the middle there somewhere was Dutch band, Focus, who had a 1973 hit with Hocus Pocus.

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  • Focus formed in The Netherlands in 1969.
  • Founding member Thijs van Leer was a classically trained organist and flautist.
  • With four breaks and reunions along the way, Focus continues to tour today.
  • Focus 3Past line ups have included, guitarist Jan Akkerman (a founding member) and American singer, PJ Proby.

hocus pocus fax

  • Hocus Pocus was recorded in 1971, released on the band Focus’s second album, Focus II (aka Moving Waves), in 1972 and hit the charts in 1973.
  • Hocus Pocus was written by Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman and flautist-keyboardist Thijs van Leer.
  • Focus 1Hocus Pocus peaked at #9 on the US singles charts and #20 on the UK singles charts. In 2010 it was featured in a Nike ad shown during the FIFA World Cup causing it to again enter the UK charts where it peaked at #57.
  • The original recording of Hocus Pocus was slower than the faster radio version which was, in turn, slower than the live version.
  • The song is often heard at sporting events, was featured in the 2014 remake of the movie Robocop, and has featured in television shows, Top Gear and My Name is Earl.
  • Hocus Pocus lyrics.

hocus pocus – focus – 1973

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Jeans On – David Dundas – 1976

February 25, 2015

David Dundas Jeans On LyricsIt’s not often a member of the British aristocracy gets to sit on their country seat and the UK top ten at the same time but it happened to Dundas, aka Lord David Paul Nicolas Dundas, back in 1976 when his song, Jeans On, hit the UK and US charts.

Photo of David DUNDASdavid dundas fax

  • David Dundas is a bona fide lord.  Son of the 3rd Marquess of Zetland, he is now rightly titled, Lord David Paul Nicolas Dundas.
  • His 1976 single, Jeans On, earns David (I mean, Lord David) entry to the one hit wonder club.
  • Lord David went on to release further singles including Another Funny Honeymoon (peaked at #29) and Where Were You Today, but he is remembered for his one big hit, Jeans On.
  • Lord David began his music career as a writer of advertising jingles.  In fact, at least two of his singles, Jeans On and Where Were You Today, had their beginnings as jingles.
  • Still in the music business, Lord David is going to be 70 years old this year and is known for writing film and television soundtracks.

jDavid Dundas 1aeans on fax

  • Jeans On was originally an advertising jingle for Brutus Jeans.  It was so popular that the jingle’s writer, David Dundas, with the help of iconic songwriter, Roger Greenaway, transformed it into a full length song and released it as a single.
  • In 1977, David (I’m letting go of the “Lord” bit – it gets rather tedious!) included Jeans On on his first album.  Self-titled it was the first of his three albums.
  • Jeans On peaked at #3 on the UK singles chart and #17 on the US chart.
  • David also released a French version of Jeans On – it was called Blue Jeans.
  • Keith Urban appears to be the only musician of note to cover Jeans On.
  • Fatboy Slim sampled the opening piano riff for his 1998 track, Sho Nuff.  Check it out; David is given credit as co-writer.  Coincidentally, Fatboy Slim’s track was also used in a commercial.  This one was for the SEAT Ibiza car.
  • Jeans On lyrics.

jeans on – david dundas – 1976 – video

brutus jeans ad – 1974 – video

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Play That Funky Music – Wild Cherry – 1976

August 14, 2014

Wild Cherry Play that funky music 1976 coverFor the second week in a row, a one-hit-wonder.  This time, American band, Wild Cherry and their 1976 #1 hit, Play That Funky Music.

wild cherry fax

  • From a small Ohio steel mill town named, Mingo Junction, comes Wild Cherry.
  • The band’s name came from the brand of a cough drop band founder, Rob Parissi had in his pocket the day he endeavoured to come up with something creative!
  • Wild Cherry were active from 1970-1973 before, disillusioned, they parted company. In 1975, Rob decided to give it another go.  With a new set of musicians, he hit the road again.
  • One night, at the 2001 Club in Pittsburgh, a group of Afro-American fans kept coming to the stage and teasing, “Are you white boys gonna play some funky music?”  Drummer Ron Beitle took up the teasing and, in a group meeting in the dressing room, said to the band, “Play That Funky Music, White Boy.”  Rob was inspired – in five minutes he’d written the song with a pen he borrowed from the bartender.
  • The band was signed to Sweet City Records (Epic/CBS) on the strength of the song’s potential.
  • Over the next few years the band changed line-up a number of times before disbanding in 1979.

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  • Play That Funky Music was written by Rob Parissi and recorded by his band Wild Cherry. Recorded in 1975, it was released in 1976.
  • Play That Funky Music hit #1 on the US singles chart on September 18, 1976.  It eventually sold over 2.5 million copies in the US alone.
  • The song listed at no. 73 on Billboard’s Greatest Songs of All Time.
  • In 1990, Vanilla Ice released a song that included an interpretation of Play That Funky Music.  He didn’t credit Rob as the songwriter and was later forced to pay $500,000 in a copyright infringement lawsuit.  Vanilla’s version didn’t initially catch on, but the B-side did.  On re-release, Play That Funky Music peaked at #4 on the US charts and #10 in the UK.

Play That Funky Music lyrics.

play that funky music – wild cherry – 1976 – video

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