Grandad – Clive Dunn – 1970

November 25, 2018

GrandadThey many not be popular now but novelty songs were regular features on the 70s hit-parade. It’s been a while since we had one on seventiesmusic – so here goes. This one not so well-known outside of the UK but a big hit back in 1971; Clive Dunn’s, Grandad.

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  • Clive Dunn was an English actor, comedian, artist, author, and singer best known for playing the role of the rather doddery Lance Corporal Jones in the BBC sitcom Dad’s Army, which ran for 80 episodes between 1968 and 1977.
  • After Clive’s drama training at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, in London, WWII broke out. Clive joined the army and served with the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars. The unit fought during the German invasion of Greece but surrendered after fighting a rear-guard action near the Corinth canal. One of the four hundred men taken prisoner, Clive was held as a prisoner of war in Austria for four years. He remained in the army after the war ended, and was finally demobilised in 1947.
  • During his film and television career, Clive tended towards playing his trademark character, that of a doddery old man.
  • He was the unlikely singer of a #1 UK single in 1971 and subsequently released a number of other singles. His #1, Grandad, resulted in a children’s TV series, also called Grandad.
  • Clive was 92 when he died in Portugal in 2112.

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  • Grandad was written by Herbie Flowers and Kenny Pickett, and released in November 1970, by Clive Dunn.
  • The story often retold has the song written specifically for Clive. While starring in the BBC sit-com Dad’s Army, Clive met bassist Herbie Flowers. On learning that Herbie was a songwriter, Clive challenged him to write a song for him. Grandad was the result.
  • Released in November 1970, Grandad reached #1 on the UK chart in January 1971 where it remained for three weeks, during which time Clive celebrated his 51st birthday. In all it spent 27 weeks on UK singles chart.
  • Clive appeared on Top of the Pops four times singing Grandad but never had another hit single.
  • He released an album which featured Grandad and its B-Side I play the Spoons. The album was titled Permission to Sing, Sir!, which referred to his character in Dad’s Army.
  • Grandad lyrics.

grandad – clive dunn – 1971 – video

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Don’t Give Up on Us – David Soul -1976

October 25, 2018

Dont give up on us david soul 1976Just to prove that it’s not just in the 2000’s that otherwise average singers can achieve hit records simply due to celebrity status gained in other fields of endeavour, this week we visit David Soul, the American-British actor (and avid Arsenal FC fan) who had not one but two #1 UK hits back in the 70s. This is his first hit – Don’t Give Up on Us.

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  • David Soul is nothing if not talented… born in Chicago, he turned down a professional baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox in order to study political science. While studying, he learned the guitar and was smitten with music. He began to play clubs and appear on television.
  • Gradually, his acting took over. He appeared on such American classics as The Merv Griffin Show, Flipper and Here Comes the Brides (also featuring Bobby Sherman). On the strength of his television work, Clint Eastwood cast him in the movie Magnum Force.
  • For those of us who remember David in his heyday, we know him as Detective Ken “Hutch” Hutchinson from Starsky and Hutch, a hit television series which aired from 1975 – 1979.
  • During the mid- to late 1970s, David returned to singing. He recorded a number of hits which included, Don’t Give Up on Us (1977) which reached #1 in both the US and UK, and Silver Lady (1977) which reached #1 in the UK, but peaked #52 in the US. Between those two hits, he had a #2 UK single, Going In With My Eyes Open.
  • In all, between 1976 and 1978, David had five UK Top 20 singles and two Top 10 albums. In the late 70s, he toured extensively in the US, Europe, Far East and South America.
  • In the mid-1990s, David moved to London and, in 2004, became a British citizen.
  • David continues to work as an actor and singer.

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  • Don’t Give Up on Us was written by song producer Tony Macaulay and sung by David Soul.
  • A huge hit, the song spent four weeks at #1 on the UK singles chart in January and February 1977, and one week at #1 on the US singles chart in April 1977. It sold 1.16 million copies in the UK. It was the 9th greatest hit of the 1970s in the UK.
  • Don’t Give Up on Us was rated #93 in VH1’s 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders because, although David had at least two more hits in the UK, he never again broke into the top 40 in the US.
  • In 2004, David recorded a new version of Don’t Give Up on Us. The story goes that he felt embarrassed when hearing the song by chance in an elevator as sung by Owen Wilson in the film version of Starsky and Hutch.
  • The song was also used in the film Johnny English Reborn (2011).
  • Don’t Give Up on Us lyrics.

don’t give up on us – david soul – 1976 – 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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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

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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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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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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