Listen to a classic hits station in 2017, and you might very well hear some 1990s songs. These are, for the most part, a rather recent addition to these stations’ playlists (which, until recently, were concentrated on the 1975-1989 period). You will probably notice, however, that the 1990s music that has finally started to appear on these stations does not cover all the different subgenres of top 40 music from that decade. Alternative rock, of course, makes up the bulk of 90s music heard on the radio now. Almost none of the 90s music on radio is dance songs, such as, say, the one US top 40 hit from Gina G.
In the minds of many people, some of the best music from the 1970s was Southern rock. Best exemplified by groups such as The Allman Brothers Band and Lynyrd Skynyrd, the rock subgenre reached its zenith in that decade amid a bunch of other genres that sounded nothing like it (which perhaps helped its success). Among the many, many bands that appeared in the 70s specializing in Southern rock was a band from Alabama called, for some reason, Wet Willie.
Sometimes a recording artist will find chart success early in his or her career and then, despite years, or even decades, of further recordings, will never reach the charts again. That almost perfectly describes the trajectory of Polly Brown’s career.
The early 1970s, more than any other time during the rock era, was good for instrumental hits. Several instrumentals made the top ten during that period, and no fewer than three of them (“Frankenstein”, “Love’s Theme”, and “TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia”) went all the way to number one. One of those who capitalized on the then-popularity of instrumental music was a British musician named Tom Parker.
1980 was, to put it mildly, a year of upheaval in the world of top 40 music in America. The disco era was ending rapidly, its end having been hastened by several causes, not the least of which was a changing in listeners’ tastes toward music such as “My Sharona”, which had been the previous year’s #1 song. While some listeners embraced the new wave movement from whence “My Sharona” came, others moved toward a resurgence of a mellower sound.
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.
Some artists have an amazing amount of chart success in their native country without having much of an impact in the United States music scene at all. Others eventually do hit the charts in the USA, sometimes almost two decades after starting their music careers. In that second category we find Cliff Richard.
Occasionally a band will spend years in relative obscurity and then, finally, suddenly break through with one big hit before settling back into the same obscurity from whence that band had come. One such band, at least as far as the American music-buying public was concerned, was Everything But The Girl.
Ask a fan of classic hits radio about the name Eddie Money, and odds are good that you will hear about only two or possibly three songs. But in reality, Eddie Money had quite a good run, with almost a dozen top 40 singles and four platinum albums.
Any history of rock and roll music has to include Chuck Berry. One of the true pioneers of rock and roll, Mr. Berry started hitting the charts in 1955, right at the start of the rock era, and he achieved a level of fame that few people could reach. Whether it was his being the only rock artist to have a song (“Johnny B. Goode”) on Voyager 1’s Golden Record* or having a very tongue-in-cheek origin story told in Back to the Future, Chuck Berry is one of those few rock stars who will likely never be forgotten.