The Sounds Of The Sixties

One Hit Wonders

The phrase "one hit wonder"  - a term coined by The Guinness Book Of Hit Singles -  seems  slightly derogatory, when you consider that  getting a number 1 hit is in itself no mean feat. However, seven acts managed to achieve this status in the 1960's by managing a single Number 1 hit, and nothing else ever in the charts.

By the nature of the fact some of the artists weren't around very long, pictures and photos of them are a bit difficult to come by.  


Ricky Valance - Tell Laura I Love Her

A huge hit in September 1960, which Welsh singer Ricky Valance, was unable to follow - despite it remaining in the charts for 16 weeks.  Although it was played by Radio Luxembourg, the BBC - well known for refusing to play any record which alluded to death - banned it as being tasteless. It didn't stop it getting to number one, however. Ricky Valance is still enjoying a singing career and - unlike many other early sixties singers - time has not diminished his ability to sing and perform.

Born David Spencer born 10 April 1939 in Ynysddu, Monmouthshire, near Wattsville, South Wales, he is the eldest of seven children. After leaving school he held various jobs, before electing to join the RAF at the age of 17.

First Welshman at Number One, he is often confused with the late  Ritchie Valens.

Ray Peterson's original version of "Tell Laura I Love Her" was considered for release in the United Kingdom. Thousands of copies were pressed but someone at Decca Records decided that the song was in "bad taste", and the records were ordered destroyed. EMI subsequently arranged for Valence to cover the song, which was co-written by Jeff Barry. Valance thus became the first Welshman to reach the top spot - Shirley Bassey being the first Welsh person.

After topping the UK Singles Chart, Valance appeared in the 1961 A Song For Europe competition, hoping to represent the UK in the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest. His song -Why Can't We -  placed third out of the nine entries, number one being Are You Sure by The Allisons.

He released several more singles, including "Movin' Away", "Jimmy's Girl" and "Six Boys", but none of them were UK hits. However, over 100,000 copies sold of "Jimmy´s Girl", and "Moving Away" made it to number one in Austria and Scandinavia, with 150,000 copies sold. Valance changed to a career on the cabaret and nostalgia circuit.

In being unable to replicate his initial UK Chart chart success, Ricky remains a One Hit Wonder

He now lives in Cabo Roig on the outskirts of Torrevieja on the Costa Blanca in Spain, where he still performs on a regular basis.

I recently bought his CD "Once Upon A Time", expecting it to be a re-issue compilation of early songs  In fact, it's a modern production, with re-arrangements showing that Ricky's talent  hasn't diminished over the years.


B Bumble And The Stingers - Nut Rocker

B. Bumble and the Stingers were an American instrumental ensemble in the early 1960s, who specialized in making rock and roll arrangements of classical melodies. Their biggest hits were "Bumble Boogie" and "Nut Rocker", which reached number 1 in the UK Singles Chart in 1962. The recordings were made by session musicians at Rendezvous Records in Los Angeles, but when they became successful a touring group was formed led by R. C. Gamble (3 November 1941–2 August 2008)[1] as "Billy Bumble".

In 1959, Earl Palmer, René Hall and Plas Johnson, all African American musicians from Louisiana, were the house band at Rendezvous Records. According to Palmer, the three friends “always talked about how we could make some money and not leave the studio. One day I said, 'Let's do a rock version of "In The Mood"'.[2] The single, credited to the Ernie Fields Orchestra, became a hit, reaching # 4 on the US pop charts in early 1960.

Hall then came up with the idea for B. Bumble and the Stingers, taking the same approach to a piece of classical music. Prompted by record producer Kim Fowley, he approached pianist Jack Fina, whose 1946 swing arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumble Bee" for Freddy Martin and his Orchestra, called "Bumble Boogie" (RCA Victor 20-1829), had reached # 7 on the charts and been used in the 1948 Walt Disney animated film Melody Time. Using Fina's arrangement, Fowley recorded pianist Ernie Freeman on two tracks, one using a grand piano for the rhythm part, whilst the other featured a doctored upright with thumb tacks attached to the hammers. The other musicians on the session, at Gold Star Studios, were Palmer on drums, Red Callender on bass, and Tommy Tedesco on guitar.

"Bumble Boogie" went to # 21 on the Billboard charts in June 1961. Because the session musicians all had other studio commitments, a teen band from Ada, Oklahoma, who had played no part in the recording itself, were recruited to handle promotion and public appearances. Their names were given as Fred Richards, Don Orr, and "B. Bumble", a pseudonym for guitarist R. C. Gamble.


The Overlanders - Michelle                                                 

Originally playing folk songs, the band found success hard to come by during the beat era and so converted to a more mainstream sound. Their only major hit was a cover version of The Beatles' song, "Michelle". It reached number one in the UK Singles Chart in January 1966, and featured arrangements by Tony Hatch.

The band failed to follow up their success and after continuing into the early 1970s they came to an end. They thus remain archetypal one-hit wonders.

In 2001, 34 years after they broke up, Castle Records issued a CD assembling The Overlanders' complete released recordings, entitled Michelle: The Pye Anthology.

The original trio was -

Paul Arnold - guitar/vocals (born Paul Arnold Friswell, 18 August 1942)

Laurie Mason - piano/vocals

Peter Bartholomew - guitar/vocals

later joined by -

Terry Widlake - bass

David Banks - drums

David Walsh - drums

David 'Kip' Stewart - guitar

In late 1966 Arnold left to pursue a solo career and was replaced by -

Ian Griffiths

Widlake left in 1968 and was replaced by -

Mike Wedgwood (born 19 May 1950, in Derby, Derbyshire, England)


The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown - Fire  

Arthur Brown (born: 24th June 1942) had started singing in the early 1960s and had been a member of various amateur and semi-pro bands while a student before moving to France during 1966. It was there that he created the beginnings of his zany stage act and eccentric persona, becoming a popular Parisian night club entertainer.

'Crazy World Of Arthur Brown' was created on his return to England during 1967. His bizarre antics on stage and his extensive make-up- long before the practice became popular- swiftly gained him notoriety and news of the group spread to new record label 'Track'. The group's second release 'Fire!', on which Brown's magnificently powerful vocal is put to good effect went all the way to the top. However, the band had nothing else amongst their extensive stage material that could be used to consolidate their achievement and they became 'one hit wonders'.

Despite Arthur Brown's absence from the Pop chart, he remained a popular live act and had some success with albums throughout the 1970s. 'Crazy World' was wound up during the early 1970s and Arthur pursued a solo career before finally retiring from professional music. However, he still returns to show business when the opportunity presents itself and demonstrates that he still has 'Fire!'   


Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin - Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus

Serge Gainsbourg, born Lucien Ginsburg 2 April 1928. was a French singer-songwriter, actor and director. Gainsbourg's extremely varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize. His legacy has been firmly established, and he is often regarded as one of the world's most influential popular musicians.

He died on 2nd March 1991

Jane Mallory Birkin (born 14 December 1946) is best known for her duet "Je t'aime... Moi Non Plus" with Serge Gainsbourg.

Birkin was born in London to David Birkin, a Royal Navy lieutenant-commander and World War II espionage operative, and Judy Campbell, an actress in Noel Coward musicals.

Birkin emerged in the Swinging London scene of the 1960s, appearing as one of the models in the 1966 film Blowup. In 1968, Birkin auditioned in France for the lead female role in Slogan. Though she did not speak French, she won the role. She co-starred with Serge Gainsbourg, and duetted with him on the film's theme song — the first of many collaborations between the two.

In 1969, she and Gainsbourg released the duet "Je t'aime... moi non plus" ("I love you... nor do I"). Gainsbourg originally wrote the song for Brigitte Bardot. The song caused a scandal for its sexual explicitness, and was banned by radio stations in Italy, Spain, and the UK. The song's fame is partly a result of its salacious lyrics, sung in French by both Gainsbourg and Birkin to a background of increasing sexual moans and groans from Birkin and culminating in her simulated orgasm at the song's conclusion.

This UK ban had TV show Top Of The Pops producers in a quandary as they always played the number one single. Controversially, they played the instrumental version which had been recorded by studio musicians Sounds Nice. This version was also a UK number 18 hit under the title of Love At First Sight.

Je t'aime made UK chart history in that on 4 October 1969 and the following week on the 11th. Je T'aime was at two different chart positions even though it is the same song, the same artists, and the same recorded version. The only difference was that they were on different record labels. It was originally released on the Fontana label, but due to its controversy, Fontana withdrew the record which was then released on the Major Minor label. Because there were Fontana singles still in the shops along with the Major Minor release, on 4 October 1969 the Major Minor release was at number 3 and the Fontana single at number 16. Also at that time it was the biggest ever selling single for a completely foreign language record.


The Archies - Sugar Sugar

The Archies is a virtual garage band founded by Archie Andrews, Reggie Mantle, and Jughead Jones, a group of adolescent fictional characters of the Archie universe, in the context of the animated TV series, The Archie Show.

The fictional band's music was recorded by session musicians featuring Ron Dante on vocals and released as a series of singles and albums. Their most successful song, "Sugar, Sugar", became one of the biggest hits of the bubblegum pop genre which flourished from 1968 to 1972.

Fictional lineup

The Archies play a variety of contemporary popular music, consistent with the era in which the comic is drawn. They seem to have a preference for rock and roll, however.

Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge later also joined the group. Every member sings vocals, with Jughead handling the bass voice on a few tracks.

The roles the teens play in the fictional band were:

Archie: lead guitar

Reggie: second guitar / bass guitar

Jughead: drums

Betty: tambourine / percussion / guitar

Veronica: organ / keyboard

Hot Dog: mascot

Even though the band have soft voices appropriate for pop singing, their actual voices are much different. An unusual distribution mode for their music was as cardboard records embossed directly onto the backs of breakfast cereal boxes so that the cardboard record could be cut out and played on a turntable (although their music was also available on standard issue LPs and 45s). Though the group no longer appears in animation, they are still frequently used in stories published by Archie Comics.

The Archies are sometimes jokingly compared to The Doors, as they also had no bass player, but there is some controversy as to whether Reggie played bass or not. In most drawings, his guitar looks identical to Archie's, making him the band's second (or co-lead) guitarist. However, a number of drawings (including the one above) clearly show the instrument to have four tuning keys, the most common bass design. Six-string bass guitars do exist, however, and the Archies' recordings regularly featured a bass player. In more than one comic strip, Reggie is described as playing bass (however, this is not necessarily canon, as storylines and hobbies/activities in the Archie world change from story to story). Finally, in the liner notes for 2008's The Archies Christmas Album, Reggie is listed as the bass guitarist.


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