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Opinion In Market: Fort Worth’s one-hit wonders – fame can be fleeting

In Market: Fort Worth’s one-hit wonders – fame can be fleeting

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Robert Francis
Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

Tuesday, Sept. 25, was One-Hit Wonder day, celebrating bands that had one hit that ruled the airwaves for a few weeks and put dreams of stardom in the minds of those bands and individuals that found – for a few weeks, anyway – a taste of chart success.

Come On Eileen by Dexys Midnight Runners anyone?

Here are some one-hit wonders with Fort Worth connections:

BRUCE CHANNEL, Hey! Baby No. 1, 1962

Recorded in a Fort Worth studio with none other than Delbert McClinton on harmonica, the song was Major Bill Smith’s first national success. As KTCK’s Hardline often reminds us, McClinton, whose father worked with mine at Rock Island Railroad, gave John Lennon some harmonica playing tips. Love Me Do anyone?

PAUL AND PAULA, Hey Paula, No. 1, 1963

For three weeks in 1963, Hey Paula ruled the airwaves. The song, a declaration of love, was No. 1, not coincidentally, during Valentine’s Day. Paul and Paula were actually Ray Hildebrand from Joshua and Jill Jackson from McCamey. According to the Texas State Historical Association, Hildebrand and Jackson, two young students at Howard Payne College, drove to Fort Worth from Brownwood and showed up at Smith’s studio on a day when the scheduled singer didn’t show. Smith recorded it and issued it on his Le Cam label, credited to “Jill and Ray.” Mercury Records picked it up for national distribution on their Philips subsidiary but decided to change their names to “Paul and Paula.” The musicians on the recording included Marvin Montgomery on guitar, Guy Parnell on bass, Hargus Robbins on organ, Little Caesar on piano, and Ronnie Dawson on drums.

Smith is an interesting story as well. According to the story on the Texas State Historical Association website, by the late 1960s Smith began funding a Fort Worth shelter, the Union Gospel Mission, and acted “as a self-styled missionary evangelist” known as “Brother Bill” to the homeless.

BLOODROCK, D.O.A., No. 36, 1971

One of the weirdest songs ever to hit the airwaves. It may not have hit No. 1, but it was certainly memorable. The band, from Fort Worth, wrote and recorded this song about the aftermath of a plane crash. Their first three albums were produced by Grand Funk Railroad’s producer, Terry Knight.

The original members consisted of Jim Rutledge (vocals and drummer), Lee Pickens (lead guitar), Nick Taylor (rhythm guitar), Ed Grundy (bass), and Stevie Hill (keyboards). Drummer Rick Cobb III came on board beginning with the group’s second album, according to the Texas State Historical Association.

Other Great Texas one hit wonders:

ARCHIE BELL AND THE DRELLS, Tighten Up, No. 1, 1968

From Houston, Texas.

ROY HEAD AND THE TRAITS, Treat Her Right, No. 2, 1965

The infectious beat of the song is still covered by rockers like Bruce Springsteen and sampled on many records. His son, Sundance Head, was the winner on The Voice in 2016.

BARBARA LYNN, You’ll Lose a Good Thing, No. 8, 1962

If you haven’t heard it, check it out. It’s awesome.

? MARK AND THE MYSTERIANS, 96 Tears, by ? Mark and the Mysterians. Though from Michigan, a member of the band wears at UT T-shirt on the cover of their album. My friends and I always claimed they were from Texas. And lead singer ? Mark became a bit of a Texan often touring with Joe “King” Carrasco in the 1980s.

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