It's a rare accomplishment in popular music history when an artist or group attains the pinnacle of success -- No. 1 on Billboard Magazine's pop chart -- only to never again have a song reach the publication's Hot 100.
Throughout the decades of the '50s and '60s, such recording riches-to-rags stories took place only seven times -- three of them occuring in 1958 and others following in 1960, 1963, 1967 and 1969.
To review a previous Examiner.com article that takes a look at those No. 1-but-nothing-else artists, click here.
This article goes a bit farther and takes a look at recording artists of the '50s, '60s and early '70s who approached the top of the charts -- with songs that charted on Billboard at No. 2, 3 or 4 -- only to never chart again.
Five artists -- Morris Stoloff, Bill Parsons, Phil Phillips, The Jaynetts and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown -- managed to have a No. 2 charter but nothing else, while two made it to No, 3 and three to No. 4 as true one-hit wonders.
For some of the artists, it's surprising that they were never able to come up with a significant subsequent hit, but in some cases, it's not surprising at all.
Bill Parsons is considered a one-hit wonder, primarily because he didn't actually sing the song he was erroneously credited for. Napoleon XIV (Jerry Samuels) logically found it difficult to repeat the success of "They're Coming To Take Me Away Ha-Haa!", and Byron MacGregor was a radio news director who turned an editorial narrative into a hit recording.
Here are capsule summaries on the songs by artists from 1955 to 1975 who charted at No. 2, No. 3 or No. 4, only to never grace the pop charts again. To hear any of the songs, click on the title.
Songs reaching No. 2 as the only Hot 100 song for the recording artist
"MOONGLOW and THEME FROM PICNIC" (Morris Stoloff, 1956): The artist was general music director for Columbia Pictures, and he won Academy Awards for film scores for "Cover Girl" (1944), "The Jolson Story" (1946) and "Song Without End" (1960). The recording was a medely of tunes from the big 1956 box-office smash "Picnic."
"THE ALL AMERICAN BOY" (Bill Parsons, 1959): Some may question whether the listed artist is a true one-hit wonder because, in actuality, the singer was Bobby Bare, who had Top 40 hits with "Shame On Me" (1962), "Detroit City" (1963) and "500 Miles Away From Home" (1963). The song -- a parody of Elvis Presley's rise to fame and induction into the Army -- was erronously credited to Parsons, who co-wrote the song with Bare, by the officials at Fraternity Records.
"SEA OF LOVE" (Phil Phillips, 1959): The now 82-year-old artist, who has lived his entire life in Lake Charles, La., never had another hit song after this well-remembered recording. The song was first recorded on the small Khoury label, but it sold so well that it was released to Mercury for national distribution.
"SALLY GO 'ROUND THE ROSES" (The Jaynetts, 1963): No one seems to know the true meaning of the lyrics, sung in unique fashion with up-and-down reverb. The pop music classic was performed by a girl group from The Bronx.
"FIRE" (Crazy World Of Arthur Brown, 1968): This bizarre psychedelic recording artist from Yorkshire, England, was discovered by Pete Townshend of The Who. The song, which spent 13 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100, was his first release and the only charting single in either the U.S. or England.
Songs reaching No. 3 as the only Hot 100 song for the recording artist
"THEY'RE COMING TO TAKE ME AWAY HA-HAA!" (Napoleon XIV, 1966): This bizarre novelty song was both written and performed by Jerry Samuels, a singer-songwriter-producer from New York City. Samuels played his own drum and tambourine on the recording, which resurfaced on the national pop charts at No. 87 in 1973.
"IN THE SUMMERTIME" (Mungo Jerry, 1970): This British jug band with a country blues sound was big in the UK with 10 Top 40 hits, but this was the only significant charter in the U.S. The London-based band was headed by Ray "Mungo" Dorset.
Songs reaching No. 4 as the only Hot 100 song for the recording artist
"PIPELINE" (The Chantays, 1963): One of the best-ever surf-style instrumentals was performed by a group of Santa Ana, Calif., high school students. The song -- co-written by band members Bob Spickard and Brian Carman -- was first recorded on the tiny Downey label before being turned over to Dot Records for national distribution.
"FLOWERS ON THE WALL" (Statler Brothers, 1966): They weren't Statlers and they weren't brothers. Actually, two of them were brothers -- lead singer Don Reid and bass Harold Reid -- along with tenor Lew DeWitt and baritone Phil Balsey from Taunton, Va. They took their name from a box of Statler facial tissues seen in a hotel room, and they were discovered by Johnny Cash in 1963, when they met backstage. Cash added them to his traveling tour and introduced them to the bigwigs at Columbia Records, on which they had numerous C&W hits.
"AMERICANS" (Byron MacGregor, 1974): The narrator -- news director at Radio Station CKLW in the Windsor, Canada-Detroit market -- heard an editorial broadcast on Canadian radio by Gordon Sinclair, and he read the opinion peace on the air. Listener response was overwhelming, and he decided to record it. A rendition by Sinclair charted at No. 24 in the U.S.