If Madonna was the pop charts’ “It girl” of the mid-80s, then Olivia Newton-John had to have had that role in the late 70s and early 80s.* With the release of Grease, Olivia Newton-John’s fame vaulted into the stratosphere. During that period, her music was found on pretty much every top 40 station and almost every adult contemporary station as well. Some of those hits still get some airplay (particularly the songs from Grease), but others are long forgotten. For example, Ms. Newton-John’s top 20 hit “Deeper Than the Night” hasn’t been heard in terrestrial radio in some time.
It’s not at all uncommon for an artist who is already part of a successful band to start a side project. This page covered one of those fairly recently. Heck, Duran Duran’s members split up between two successful side projects at the same time in 1985. Now, some of these side projects (though probably not Duran Duran’s two) are easily forgotten. Possibly one of the most successful bands formed as a side project, though, was Mike Rutherford’s side project Mike + The Mechanics.
Mike + The Mechanics was so successful that while the band, and several of its songs, are still remembered, other songs which got a fair amount of airplay originally have fallen by the wayside. One of those was the band’s 1986 top 40 hit “Taken In”.
Dr. Hook is one of those 1970s groups that a lot of people know by name. I would imagine, though, that most people don’t remember many, if any, of Dr. Hook’s hits (and they had several). It’s interesting, though, that a group which had top 20 hits in five out of ten years of the 70s is so easily forgotten. And, surprisingly enough, one of those forgotten hits was one of the group’s highest charting.
It isn’t unheard of for the artist credited on a track not to be the one who actually sings on that track. Carlos Santana, for example, made a career of it. But while many Santana tracks are still receiving airplay, one artist whose credited tracks are much more difficult to hear on American radio is famed producer Quincy Jones.
September 2018 saw the loss of yet another name from rock music history, as Marty Balin died at age 76. Marty Balin was one of the founding members of Jefferson Airplane and also sang with its offshoot, Jefferson Starship. But it was his solo career that has become forgotten by radio now.
When Daryl Hall wasn’t making hit albums and singles with John Oates (along with the occasional now-forgotten song), he certainly kept busy during the 70s and 80s.* In addition to writing and producing, he also recorded some music on his own. American terrestrial radio has pretty much forgotten, but he had some success in the mid-80s with a hit called “Dreamtime”.
If one were to make an objective list of the most successful duos in American music during the pop era by sales and chart successes, one would have to include Daryl Hall and John Oates. However, if I were to make a list of the most disrespected duos in America music in the pop era, I would also include Daryl Hall and John Oates. Add to that the fact that they did have so many chart smashes, and it’s easy to see how a single that was not so successful could be forgotten so totally. And that’s exactly the fate of the duo’s 1981 single “Your Imagination”.
Many times an artist who hits the top ten is better known for acting. For example, within a three-year period during the 80s, actors Don Johnson, Bruce Willis, and Patrick Swayze hit the top ten for their first and only time. For an artist to be better known for his work on an animated children’s show, though, is a much rarer instance. Such is the case for Austin Roberts, one of those artists now thought to be a one-hit wonder…even though he wasn’t.
Occasionally, an artist will have a hit single but not be happy with the song. Sometimes, artists get tired of having to perform their biggest early hits after some time; occasionally, you might even read of an artist expressing disgust, or even hatred, toward one or more such songs. It’s rarer, though, that an artist expresses disgust at the recording process so much that the hit single doesn’t appear on best-of compilations, but that appears to be what happened with the highest charting single of Paul Davis.
Occasionally, a band or artist will have a single which becomes a fairly good-sized hit but which becomes a forgotten song because of other songs the band/artist has released which completely overshadow the single in question. Even if a band is known for only a few songs, the huge hits can almost drive the songs that were just big from people’s minds. That appears to be the case for the late 90s band Savage Garden.