The Best One-Hit Wonders of the 60s and 70s

Norman Greenbaum

The 1960s and 1970s were filled with bands that delivered fantastic one-hit wonders before disappearing from mainstream airwaves. Today, we honor those one-hit wonders with some of our favorites. 

1. “In The Year 2525” by Zager and Evans

“In the Year 2525” by Zager and Evans
Image Credit: Truth; RCA Victor.

The summer of 1969 brought peace and love but also delivered this gloomy look into the future. The tune may be catchy, but Zager and Evans quickly disappeared and split up in 1971. Perhaps the song will enjoy a revival when the year 2525 comes around.

2. “In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry

IMG 2555
Image Credit: Dawn Records.

This song got to number three on the Billboard charts, but that was Mungo Jerry’s only hit in the U.S. He continued to sell in big numbers in the U.K. and is still performing. However, the lyrics didn't age too well. 

3. “Have I The Right” by The Honeycombs

“Have I the Right?” by The Honeycombs
Image Credit: Interphon Records.

The Honeycombs spent four weeks on the U.S. charts with this hit in 1964 but split three years later without a follow-up. “Have I the Right” was made more memorable through a 1977 cover version by Dead End Kids.

4. “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas

IMG 2540
Image Credit: 20th Century Fox.

“Kung Fu Fighting” cashed in on the martial arts craze of the mid-70s. It was a smash for Carl Douglas in 1974, but he disappeared into the realms of one-hit wonders. 

5. “Get It On” by T Rex

“Get in On” by T. Rex
Image Credit: Reprise Records.

It would be incredible for readers in some parts of the world to think of T. Rex as a one-hit wonder. Their charismatic singer Marc Bolan led them to many chart successes in the U.K., but this was their only U.S. hit.

6. “I Fought the Law” by Bobby Fuller

“I Fought the Law” by Bobby Fuller
Image Credit: Coral Records.

A little unfairly, Bobby Fuller makes the list with this cover version. He may have been a bigger hit, but he unfortunately passed away at a young age. 

7. “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers

“Saturday Night” by The Bay City Rollers
Image Credit: Arista Records.

Another band bigger in the U.K., the Bay City Rollers, had to settle for this solitary U.S. hit. It became the earworm for more many who began the chant, “S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y!”

8. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly

“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” by Iron Butterfly
Image Credit: ATCO Records, Atlantic Records.

“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is credited as a seminal work in heavy rock, but these days it is remembered mainly for a cameo appearance in The Simpsons.

9. “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam

“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
Image Credit: Fontana.

This 1969 song made it into the charts, but the band Steam failed to deliver on its promise. 

10. “Hey There Lonely Girl” by Eddie Holman

“Hey there Lonely Girl” by Eddie Holman
Image Credit: Kapp Records.

Eddie Holman couldn’t follow up this 1969 hit, but it’s another song that has stood the test of time.

11. “Black Betty” by Ram Jam

“Black Betty” by Ram Jam
Image Credit: Musicraft Records.

This song has endured so well that we may have thought Ram Jam had enjoyed more hits. But at least we still have “Black Betty.”

12. “Macarthur Park” by Richard Harris

“MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris
Image Credit: Dunhill Records.

This bizarre rendition overshadowed the brilliance of the songwriter Jimmy Webb.

13. “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum

“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
Image Credit: Reprise Records.

Norman Greenbaum's “Spirit in the Sky” is one of the most successful one-hit wonders of all time. Despite this, as well as a continued career, he was never able to duplicate that success. 

14. “Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore

“Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore
Image Credit: Decca Records.

Billboard voted this as the 19th best song of 1976. Sadly it was so good that Dorothy Moore simply couldn’t find a follow-up.

15. “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks

IMG 2550
Image Credit: Philips Records.

This song came from the 1974 album of the same name and was a hit worldwide for Terry Jacks. It is so evocative of that period, and it’s a huge surprise that the talented Jacks couldn’t find another hit record.

16. “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest

IMG 2546
Image Credit: United Artists.

This cover of a Boffalongo track was a hit for King Harvest in 1972. The song was quickly forgotten until it became a worldwide success for the U.K. band Toploader at the start of the new millennium. Many music fans agree that they greatly preferred the King Harvest version.

17. “Ariel” by Dean Friedman

“Ariel” by Dean Friedman
Image Credit: Lifesong.

While this one-hit wonder has largely been forgotten, contributors had great fun recalling the lyrics. 

18. “How Long” by Ace

IMG 2551
Image Credit: Anchor Records.

This haunting song of betrayal made it onto the list. The band Ace was not around for much longer, but their singer Paul Carrack enjoyed success further down the line. He provides the voice for hits by both Mike and the Mechanics and Squeeze.

19. “Venus” by Shocking Blue

“Venus” by Shocking Blue
Image Credit: Pink Elephant.

A forgotten song from the 1960s was given a new lease of life when it was covered by Bananarama in 1986. However, most people prefer the original version of “Venus” by Shocking Blue.

20. “Beach Baby” by The First Class

“Beach Baby” by The First Class
Image Credit: UK Records.

Another song from that heady summer of 1974, “Beach Baby,” was a hit on both sides of the Atlantic. First Class was a U.K. band who found it hard to live up to the success of this early smash, and they broke up in 1976.

21. “My Sharona” by The Knack

IMG 2544
Image Credit: Capitol Records.

The Knack are rare in the sense that they are one-hit wonders in the U.S. and in the U.K. “My Sharona” was a success on both sides of the Atlantic in 1979. The singer wistfully announced that the band was going to “be bigger than the Beatles.” Oops. 

22. “Pictures of Matchstick Men” by Status Quo

“Pictures of Matchstick Men” by Status Quo
Image Credit: Cadet Records.

Readers in the U.K. will be shocked to see this make the list. After releasing this psychedelic number in 1968, the band changed their image and swapped paisley shirts for denim. Sadly, the new look wasn’t appreciated by an American audience who barely bought another record.

23. “Brandy (You’re a Fine Girl)” by Looking Glass

IMG 2564
Image Credit: Epic Records.

The band Looking Glass had a follow-up top 40 hit. Technically they are not one-hit wonders, but this number-one song has found a lot of love as of late (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, anyone?). This song is still a jam, and it kind of makes you wonder just how many pets were named “Brandy” due to this record.

24. “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams

“Classical Gas” by Mason Williams
Image Credit: Warner Records Inc.

This catchy instrumental was a surprise hit for Mason Williams and his backing band, The Wrecking Crew, in 1968. Williams continued to perform but was unable to find any more success on the Billboard charts.

25. “Dominique” by The Singing Nun

“Dominique” by The Singing Nun
Image Credit: Philips Records.

I have to end with my own personal favorite from 1963. In this curious hit, The Singing Nun (real name Jeanne Deckers) manages to find herself bracketed as a one-hit wonder and a novelty act.

Author: Matt Harris

Title: Writer

Expertise: Sports, music, travel, food, trending topics

Bio:

Matt is a journalist who began his career writing for print media in the 1990s. After filing cricket reports for local newspapers, he contributed to many periodicals in the spheres of sport, collecting, and food and drink. Having attended hundreds of concerts and sporting events, he now focuses on music as well as sport, and is happy to have lasted through to the digital age.