The 1960s are known for many things, including Camelot, hippie counterculture, and good music. Some musical acts from that era, like The Rolling Stones, are still rocking it out on tour, while others fizzled out after a single chart-topper. Take a walk (or dance) down memory lane with the best one-hit wonders from the 1960s.
1. Doris Troy, Just One Look (1963)
Just one listen was all it took for Doris Troy's song about an infatuation at first sight to become a hit. She continued working as a backup singer for other famous artists of that era, achieving a different level of success than she enjoyed with this single.
2. Bob Kuban and The In-Men, The Cheater (1965)
This 1965 song is about an unrepentant serial cheater that everyone should be on the lookout for because he's always searching for his next conquest, whose heart he'll break like all of the other hearts he's hurt. Walter Scott, the band's lead singer, was murdered by a man who also killed his wife to marry Scott's wife, with whom he was having an affair.
3. The Contours, Do You Love Me (1962)
The Contours have the distinction of their song achieving widespread popularity during its original Motown release in 1962 and again in 1988 as one of the songs from the Dirty Dancing movie soundtrack.
4. The Capitols, Cool Jerk (1966)
Originally titled “Pimp Jerk,” after the jerk dance pimps used to perform in nightclubs, the song's name was changed to “Cool Jerk” to keep it from being banned or having limited airplay because of the negative connotations of the word pimp. After the title change, the song was released and started the “Cool Jerk” dance craze.
5. Maurice Williams and The Zodiacs, Stay (1960)
At one minute and 36 seconds, “Stay” is the shortest-running song to become number one in the United States. “Stay” also enjoyed renewed popularity nearly three decades later when it was included in the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.
6. Mark Dinning, Teen Angel (1960)
Sung from a boyfriend's perspective, this mournful song about a young woman who dies in an accident and becomes the narrator's teenage angel was considered so depressing by some radio stations that they refused to play it. Despite the partial ban, it topped the U.S. charts.
7. Little Peggy March, I Will Follow Him (1963)
First performed in 1961 by a French singer, Little Peggy March's English-language version of the song made the 15-year-old singer the youngest female artist to reach the top of the U.S. charts. This song has been covered numerous times and sung by Whoopi Goldberg in the movie Sister Act.
8. Steam, NA NA Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye (1969)
Steam's catchy chart topper remains a wildly popular song among audiences at professional sporting events. Home crowds frequently serenade the losing visiting team with this song.
9. Bruce Channel, Hey! Baby (1961)
“Hey! Baby” was another chart-topping one-hit wonder given new life on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. The song was covered by Canadian singer Anne Murray in 1982.
10. Kyu Sakamoto, Sukiyaki (1963)
Besides being one of the most recognizable tunes and best-selling songs in history, “Sukiyaki” is also distinguished for being one of a handful of non-English language songs to reach the top of the American musical charts. Some American rhythm and blues groups have remade the song with new English lyrics.
11. Bobby Pickett, Monster Mash (1962)
An enduring Halloween favorite, the song tells the story of a scientist who creates a Frankenstein-like monster that invents a new dance called the “Monster Mash.” The dance becomes famous when the scientist hosts a party with other legendary monsters, including Dracula and the Wolfman.
12. The Surfaris, Wipe Out (1963)
While this instrumental song was released in 1963, it still enjoys pop culture popularity in television and film. It's often used as the background music for surfing-related scenes as the term wipe out indicates a fall from a surfboard.
13. Bobby Hebb, Sunny (1966)
A pop/rhythm and blues crossover reached numbers two and three on each chart. Written by Hebb in 1963, the song was covered by two other artists before he recorded it. The success led Hebb to tour with The Beatles that same year.
14. Robert Knight, Everlasting Love (1967)
Covered by singers Carl Carlton and Gloria Estefan, among many others, Knight's version of this popular tune reached number 13 on the U.S. charts. After his music career ended, Knight became a chemistry teacher.
15. Spiral Starecase, More Today Than Yesterday (1969)
One of the feel-good songs of the 1960s was a massive hit in the U.S. and Canada. It's been covered nearly two dozen times by artists such as Sonny & Cher, Diana Ross, Lena Horne, and Patti Austin.
16. Eddie Holman, Hey There Lonely Girl (1969)
Released in December 1969 and charting in early 1970, “Hey There Lonely Girl” is memorable for Holman's falsetto singing. The song was initially recorded in 1963 by Ruby and the Romantics with the title “Hey There Lonely Boy.”
17. The Youngbloods, Get Together (1969)
Initially recorded by the Kingston Trio in 1963, this open appeal for peace and harmony over fear and hatred was recorded by The Youngbloods in 1967 before being re-released in 1969 when it gained widespread popularity.
18. JJ Jackson, But It's Alright (1966)
One of the first rhythm and blues albums recorded in the United Kingdom, “But It's Alright” charted in the soul and pop music categories in 1966 and again in 1969. A song cover by Huey Lewis & the News hit the charts in 1994.
19. The Cascades, Rhythm of The Rain (1962)
An easy-listening song about a brokenhearted man who wishes the rain would leave him alone was a success worldwide, making the top ten in the U.S., U.K., Australia, and New Zealand.
20. The Exciters, Tell Him (1962)
Initially written and performed as “Tell Her” by Johnny Thunder in 1962, the word her was changed to him. That slight change worked out quite well because “Tell Him” became a massive hit for The Exciters that same year.
21. Iron Butterfly, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968)
The song's title is a play on the words “in the Garden of Eden.” The lyrics, sung only at the beginning and end of the 17-minute single, consist of Adam professing his love for Eve. The song is primarily instrumental, with a lengthy drum solo several minutes in.
22. Human Beinz, Nobody but Me (1968)
Human Beinz's only hit song peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 but has a contemporary pop culture presence, having been used in movies like Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and The Departed, as well as television shows like Glee and The Office. It's also a famous sports anthem.
23. Jewel Akens, The Birds and The Bees (1965)
The song's title and lyrics are a cheeky reference to the concept of teaching a certain education to adolescents. In addition to being a top-five hit in the U.S., the song has been recorded in several languages, including Italian, German, Hungarian, and Finnish.
24. Deon Jackson, Love Makes The World Go ‘Round (1966)
A joyful tune describing the power of love and how much it's needed gave Deon Jackson fleeting fame in the U.S. However, his music catalog still prevails in the U.K.'s soul music listening community.
25. Bent Fabric, Alley Cat (1962)
This up-tempo instrumental tune was charted over 60 years ago, but children today may be familiar with the song as it is a standard ice cream truck jingle.
Did your favorite one-hot wonder make this list? Tell us which one we missed!
Freelance Writer and Technical Writer
- Areas of expertise: Technology, user experience, pop culture, and entertainment.
- Education: West Chester University of Pennsylvania and Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
Her articles have appeared in publications such as Wealth of Geeks, MSN (US), MSN Ireland, Flipboard, The Facts, The Cents of Money, A Dime Saved, The Times (Frankfort), Invested Wallet, Chronicle-Tribune, Mama of Five Blog, Lafourche Gazette, The Herald-Press, Kinda Frugal, Peru Tribune, and Financially Well Off. Stephanie Allen got her start in writing by teaching college writing and technical writing courses. She transitioned to working as a contract technical writer specializing in information technology. Her love for writing on various subjects led her to Wealth of Geeks.