Category Archives: 1981

One Hit Wonders: Tommy Tutone

Hi Everybody! Robert is back for the final week of one-hit wonders. And man, what a way to wrap it up!!! Once again, the one-hit wonders of this series are artists who only had one song crack the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. Now, let’s get back to Robert as he covers an ultimate ’80s tune!

Here they are, the last five songs that I am putting on my One Hit Wonders mixtape. Five more great tunes that have been relegated and sometimes scoffed at, but still hold an important place in the hearts of ‘80s music fans everywhere. So far, there has been no particular order to these songs – I just like them – but for the final five I have saved my favorites. So sit back and once again push play in your Walkman and enjoy these songs that complete the cassette.

867-5309/ Jenny by Tommy Tutone

Many of us cannot remember a phone number any more. I can still remember my home phone number from sixth grade, but I would struggle with telling you my number today. Most us have hundreds of important phone numbers saved in our smart phones, eliminating the need to memorize them. To remember these numbers all we really need is a catch song. The title of this #4 hit from 1981 is just a phone number, but it is a number that most of us will never forget. This catchy song by the California band hit American radio with a force and that phone number has been used in prank calls ever since. The song itself is a typical early ‘80s pop rock song in the vein of early Rick Springfield. Lyrically, it has an edge of desperation:

Jenny, Jenny who can I turn to?
You give me something I can hold on to
I know you think I’m like the others before
Who saw your name and number on the wall
Jenny, I got your number
I need to make you mine
Jenny, don’t change your number

Come on everyone (you know the next part sing it with me), “8 – 6 – 7 – 5 – 3 – 0 – 9.” The man’s desperation does not quite overcome his nervousness though, as he tries to call her, but chickens out at first, “You don’t know me but you make me so happy / I tried to call you before but I lost my nerve.” Perhaps he has a bit of a problem – maybe he is stalking her – I’m not sure but he does say, “I tried my imagination but I was disturbed.” What he have here is a great song and a two pronged lesson. Guys: no matter how desperate you are, calling a number you get from a bathroom wall is probably not a great idea. Ladies: never, never, leave your phone number on a bathroom wall – you never know who will call.

One Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1982 – Junior

“Mama Used To Say” by Junior

Junior Giscombe (simply known as Junior) is a British R&B artist. He was a backing vocalist with a group called Linx between 1980 and 1982. When he went solo, he had a big hit with “Mama Used to Say”, which peaked at #30 on April 24, 1982. Billboard magazine named him “Best Newcomer”. Junior did not have another hit after that. He did perform a duet with Kim Wilde, which was a very good song – “Another Step (Closer to You)”.

But here is his one U.S. hit, “Mama Used to Say”:

One-Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1981 – Rachel Sweet

“Everlasting Love” by Rex Smith and Rachel Sweet

“Everlasting Love” was originally recorded by Robert Knight in 1967, and a more recent version was done by Gloria Estefan in 1995.

The Rachel Sweet version peaked at #32 on August 22, 1981. Sweet was paired with Rex Smith who had reached #10 in 1979 with “You Take My Breath Away”. Their duet on “Everlasting Love” was featured on both Sweet’s And Then He Kissed Me album and the album Everlasting Love by Smith. This would provide Sweet with her only Top 40 showing and Smith with a second and final one.

One-Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1981 – Jim Steinman

“Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through” by Jim Steinman

Jim Steinman is best known for writing and producing Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell albums, as well as Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, Air Supply’s “Making Love out of Nothing at All” and Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”.

Early in the production of a follow-up album to Bat out of Hell, Meat Loaf developed vocal problems and was unable to continue on the project. Steinman proceeded with the album, released as Bad for Good in 1981. Most songs from this album were sung by Steinman himself. He ended up scoring a hit with “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through”, which peaked at #32 on August 15, 1981. A rock vocalist named Rory Dodd actually sang the song. But, he was uncredited for this song, and Steinman got the credit. This was the closest hit that Steinman was credited for as a singer. He has gone on to other producing and writing successes, especially with Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell in 1993. Meat Loaf sang “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through” on that album.

Jim Steinman Version

Meat Loaf Version

One-Hit Wonders of the ’80s: 1981 – Grover Washington, Jr.

“Just the Two of Us” by Grover Washington, Jr.

“Just the Two of Us” was recorded by Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Withers. The song appeared on Washington’s album Winelight. It reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and stayed there for 3 weeks. The song won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.

Grover Washington, Jr. (December 12, 1943 – December 17, 1999) was an jazz-funk/soul-jazz saxophonist. He did not have another hit after “Just the Two of Us”, but he remained an influence in smooth jazz, and is known for bringing Kenny G to the forefront

On December 17, 1999, while waiting in the green room after taping four songs for The Saturday Early Show, at CBS Studios in New York City, Washington collapsed. He was taken to St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at about 7:30 p.m. He was 56 years old. His doctors determined that he had suffered a massive heart attack.

He did leave us with this nice smooth hit: