The other day someone asked me who sang that “Glibby gloop gloopy Nibby Nabby Noopy La La La Lo Lo” song. I love music trivia, so for this one anyway, I remembered that “Good Morning, Starshine,” from the musical “Hair,” was sung by a dude named Oliver.
Well, one thought led to another, of course, and I got to thinking about that age-old question, “Whatever happened to that guy?”
And, “Was he a One Hit Wonder?”*
And, like, it was 1969 when this song was a hit — was this guy ahead of his time with his one-word name? I mean, Madonna didn’t even hit the music scene with a vengeance until 1982.
So, what else would I do in the 21st century? I googled him.
William Oliver Swofford was born in February 1945 in North Carolina. He was actually a two-hit wonder — he also topped the charts in 1969 with the gooey Rod McKuen song, “Jean” from the movie “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.” No other big hits materialized for the guy and he eventually married and became a real estate agent. I was surprised to learn that he died in February 2000 at the young (REALLY young!) age of 55.
Curious as always, I began to “wonder” what had happened to some of the other One Hit Wonders who had recorded some of my favorite tunes from the ’60s and ’70s.
For instance, did “The Ozark Mountain Daredevils” achieve super-stardom fame after their hit “Jackie Blue” in 1975? Uh…in a nutshell…no.
Mary Hopkin was discovered by Paul McCartney of The Beatles at the young age of 18 and hit the charts with her blockbuster single “Those Were the Days” in 1969. It went to number 2 on the US Billboard charts. It seemed like it was ALWAYS playing on the radio. And then…what?
In the same year, 1969, she recorded the catchy tune”Goodbye” that had been written by Paul McCartney. It reached number two in the UK, but foundered in the US. In 1971, she married and abandoned the pop music scene to raise a family.
Mary Hopkin is now 60 years old and despite not another number one US hit, she has continued to write and record music…most notably Welsh folk songs and compilations of previously unreleased recordings from the 1970s. In October 2010, Mary and her son, Morgan Visconti, released the album, “You Look Familiar” which features Mary’s melodies, lyrics and vocals and Morgan’s instrumentals and arrangements.
In 1972, Gilbert O’Sullivan recorded the morbidly depressing song, “Alone Again, Naturally.” I was only 17 at the time, wallowing in the throes of teenage angst, so the lyrics actually kinda appealed to me back then. The song ran up the charts to number one in the US.
Gil’s real name is Raymond Edward O’Sullivan and he was born in 1946 in Waterford, Ireland.
After “Alone Again….” he had a number two hit with a song called “Clair” which I vaguely but don’t really remember. That was all for the US charts, but he continued to be popular in Europe and to record. He is currently very popular in Japan and has a new album coming out on January 31st called “Gilbertsville.”
I guess if your father’s name is Frank Sinatra, you get to have a hit song. Well, actually, several…. Remember “go-go boots”? Mini-skirts and bleached-blonde big hair? In 1966, Nancy Sandra Sinatra recorded the number one hit “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'” which is still a steel-toed boot-tapper to this day. Her next number one song was the father-daughter duet, “Somethin’ Stupid” in April 1967. It lingered on the Billboard easy listening chart for 9 weeks.
Previously unbeknownst to me, Nancy Sinatra had many other songs land on the charts in the US during the late 1960s, although there were no other number ones. If you remember some of these titles, you are goood: “Friday’s Child,” “Love Eyes,” “Lightening’s Girl” and “Tony Rome.” She also recorded country-western tunes with singer/songwriter Lee Greenwood and the theme song for the 1967 James Bond movie, “You Only Live Twice.”
In 1966 and 1967, she performed for the troops in Viet Nam, many of whom had adopted “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'” as a theme song.
She continued to record until the mid- 1970s when she took time off for, you guessed it, marriage and family. In 1981 she was back at it again, singing, recording and acting.
On May 11, 2006, at the age of 66, Nancy received her very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Does anyone remember Norman Greenbaum? Does anybody care? His quirky song “Spirit in the Sky” sold 2 million copies in 1969-1970.
The song features these lyrics penned by Norman himself:
￼”Never been a sinner I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He’s gonna set me up with
The spirit in the sky
Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best.”
Ironically, however, Greenbaum was and is a practicing Jew!
No other chart-toppers moved the muse’s spirit and in the 1970s, he bought a farm in Petaluma, CA. He lives there still.
That was fun. If I were paid the Big Bucks for this…lookin’ up the status of One Hit Wonders…I’d have job security for the rest of my life. But $$$ or no, there’s always more time for music trivia for this old folkie.
One Hit Wonder: A recording artist (or group) who attains fame and $$$ from one Number One Hit and then fades into obscurity.
Album: What was commonly known as a long-playing (LP) record by Baby Boomers.
Long-Playing Record: Oversized vinyl CD.
CD: Compact-sized long-playing record featuring a collection of MP3s.
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