25 Great Soul/ R&B One-Hit Wonders from the 80’s
A one-hit wonder is defined as an act (singer or band) mainly known for a single success. It’s a tough business, it’s hard getting a record deal, even harder getting a hit and a herculean task to come back and do it again. Just ask Simon Cowell’s past X-Factor winners. This is not to diss these acts in any way, shape or form, matter of fact, in pretty much all the cases, their songs were far better than those by artistes who achieved staying power.
This is therefore to salute those acts whose songs did it back then and keep banging old school revival bashes today, plus no doubt into the future. You might look at this list and tell yourself some weren’t ‘hits’ since they didn’t achieve lofty heights in the charts but you see, I cometh from an age where the definition of a hit was a song that you heard repeatedly on radio (pirate), at house parties, clubs and in your friends’ cars. Never mind it might not have moved many units and the artiste was likely to be standing next to you at the bus stop or heck even driving the approaching bus. This list is more about the popularity than the sales, those songs you’ll know from artistes that didn’t seem to go on to do anything else.
- 9.9 – This R&B trio reached #5 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts with the song “All of Me For All Of You” in 1985. Creative differences meant the group disbanded in 1987.
- 52nd Street – A British Jazz Funk/R&B band who reached #8 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts with “Tell Me (How it Feels)” in 1985. The group enjoyed other moderate success in the 80’s but nothing near that of their famed tune which was produced by Nick Martinelli of Loose Ends fame.
- Brandi Wells – She sang with Fat Larry’s Band, Breeze and Slick before going solo. Her only hit “Watch Out” charted at #27 on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and #16 on the US Hot Dance Club Songs chart back in 1981. Brandi sadly passed away in 2003 at the age of 47.
- Dayton – This Funk band from you guessed it, Dayton, Ohio scored their only major hit, the fantastic “The Sound Of Music” in 1983. Their second album did not match the success of the first and the group disbanded thereafter.
- Deco – This Soul/R&B duo scored the two-step classic “I’m So Glad I Met You” back in 1983. Reminiscent of Gap Band’s “Outstanding”, the song was produced by Ollie Brown and released on Quincy Jones’ Qwest label.
- Finis Henderson – The bouncy “Skip To My Lou” didn’t do much damage to the charts but was loved by many. Apparently, the song and album got caught up in Motown politics of the 80’s and did not get the push it deserved.
- Gary Byrd and the GB Experience – The radio DJ released the conscious rap track “The Crown” in 1983 written by himself and Stevie Wonder who also featured on it. The song about African- Americans’ African heritage ran for 10 minutes and 35 seconds and reached #6 on the US charts.
- Jeanette ‘Lady’ Day – She was known for the hit “Come Let Me Love You” which was released on Prelude Records in 1981. Many a lad skirting with puberty at the time helped this track attract popularity for obvious reasons. This was before Google, a time when a young lad needed a strong imagination…
- Komiko – They were known for the moderately successful yet hugely popular garage/ boogie cut, “Feel Alright” released on SAM Records in 1982. Carol Williams was once a member of the group.
- Larry Wu – The New York City born session musician released the popular “Let Me Show You” on Atlantic Records in 1983. He later formed the group Modernique who also were a one-hit wonder…
- Natasha King -Real name Natasha Maimone, she scored the electro influenced hit ‘AM FM’ on Ecstasy Records in 1983.
- Peech Boys – a.k.a. The New York City Peech Boys, were known for “Don’t Make Me Wait” which was released in 1981 and was one of the pioneering hits of the New York House/Garage scene.
- Real to Reel – Their only hit “Love Me Like This” was released on Arista Records in 1983. The song was produced by Leon F Sylvers III of Solar Records. Strangely, the group never released an album.
- Roberta Gilliam – Known for her 1985 hit “All I Want Is My Baby” which was written and produced by a then unknown Keith Sweat.
- Rochelle – Known for her hit “Magic Man” from 1985 on Warner Bros. Records. The song featured Audrey Wheeler and Cindy Mizzle on backing vocals.
- Rockwell – the son of Motown founder and CEO Berry Gordy. Known for his 1984 smash hit “Somebody’s Watching Me” which featured guest vocals from his childhood chum, Michael Jackson.
- Secret Weapon – The New York City R&B group are known for their 1982 hit “Must Be The Music” as well as a string of other moderate releases.
- Sherrick – Scored the huge hit “Just Call” which peaked at #8 on the Billboard R&B charts in 1987. Sherrick tragically passed away in 1999 at the age of 41.
- Starshine – Known for their underground hit, the Slave influenced “All I Need Is You” on Prelude Records, released in 1983.
- Tease – The Soul/Funk band scored a hit with the laidback cut “Firestarter” in 1986. The song was produced by Stephen Shockley, guitarist with the 80’s funk band Lakeside.
- The Family – The short-lived group was put together by Prince and went on to score a hit from their only release, “The Screams of Passion” on Paisley Park Records in 1985. When lead vocalist St Paul walked out, Prince disbanded the group and drafted the remaining members into The Revolution.
- The Reddings – consisting of the sons of soul legend Otis Redding, they ‘re best known for their 1980 hit, “Remote Control” which reached #11 on the Billboard Hot Soul charts. In all fairness, “Call the Law” also fared well for the group in 1988 but never quite achieved the magic of “Remote Control”
- Krystol – An all female R&B trio, their debut album didn’t even chart but the single “After The Dance Is Through” peaked at #40 on the Billboard Dance charts back in 1985 and was hugely popular in clubland.
- Vicky D – A short-lived New York based act that had a hit with “This Beat Is Mine” in 1982. The song, produced by Gary Turner of Gary’s Gang was released on SAM Records and reached #11 on the Billboard Club Play Singles chart.
- Toney lee – The singer/songwriter/producer was known for “Reach Up” which peaked at #10 on the US Billboard Dance charts in 1982. He later joined the production team of Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis) at Flyte Tyme.