The Book – Concept Refinement
- The Concept
- The Definition
- WGN Radio’s – Steve & Johnny
- Billboard Magazine Chart History
- Who Is Wayne Jancik ?
A ONE-HIT WONDER is “an act that has won a position on Billboard’s
national, pop, Top 40 just once.”
.OMITTED from consideration as a One-Hit Wonder:
“One-off Pairings,” such as Barbara Streisand and Donna Summer. All
such are being omitted due to the artist involved having no intention of
being considered an act; an enduring act. Cosmetic Name Changes,”
such as the Moonglows name change to Harvey & theMoonglows.
INCLUDED in consideration as a One-Hit Wonder:
“Pseudo groups & Studio-Only Acts,” such as White Plains, Billy Joe & the Checkmates, the Pets,
Max Frost & the Troopers, the Pipkins, and Edison Lighthouse. In each case if a viable recording
was created and receiving sales, the powers behind would construct a touring or further
functioning act to record. These would function as intentional and enduring acts; as long as it
was financially a viable situation.
THE ONE-HIT WONDER IS NOT THE SONG, NOT THE RECORDING, BUT THE ARTIST!!!
The One-Hit Wonders book covered the rich heritage of one-off “pop music” winners encased in the time
zone of the “rock’n’ roll” era” (therein defined as beginning January 1, 1955) with a cut-off point set at
January 1, 1993. The “cut-off-point” was rather arbitrary. The option for a third edition was not sought
by Watson-Gupti l (Billboard Books).
This site is meant to bring to a wider audience what was happen ing in the world of pop/rock, in the U.S.,
particularly during the “Golden Age” of the ’50s and ’60s. All entries–unless other wise noted–were written
by Wayne Jancik for the 1st (1990) and/or 2nd edition (1997). Due to space limitations, the Book ONLY
included those One-Hit Wonders whose popularity reached the UPPER Top 20 of the nation’s Top 40 charts
(with all computations drawn from Joel Whitburn’s series of excellent chart books). Only half of the entries
created were published in that book; those acts who peaked in the LOWER Top 20 of the Top 40 are
appearing HERE FOR THE FIRST TIME! Their delineation as true One-Hit Wonders is every bit as
authentic as those that appeared in both of the book editions.
When I created the One-Hit Wonders concept in the late ’80s, local Top 40 radio–if no longer king–was still
a viable force. Young folk still had that urge to know “what’s happenin’.” For near a half century a “hit
record” was determined by airplay, sales and shennanigans. Hundreds of radio stations wonderfully littered
the nation from Toad Hop, Indiana to Bosie, Idaho; each constructing their weekly Top 40 listings (available
for free at your friendly record store) of the “hot wax.” Okay, to match the call letters some stations had the
Hot ‘n’ Happenin’ Top 30, 33 0r 45. “Regional hits” were a way “in” for local artists. These were recordings–
that due to distribution limitations, local appreciation, or shennanigans–were labeled “hits” and received
local airplay. Billboard magazine was the industries nation-wide delineation of hitdom.
They– and for a piece of time Cashbox and Record World–shared the stage as the Americas’ judge of
winners and losers.
A “ONE HIT WONDER” is an act that has won a position on Billboard’s
national, pop, Top 40 just once.
Billboard magazine–dating back to the 1890s–was the national arbitrator of
“hit” status for music. Radio in a now by-gone golden era was the major source
of exposure for recording artists. With the on-set of the 50s, “Top 40” radio
became the happenin’ vehicle for the blooming Baby Boomer generation. It
was presented as a democracy–infested though with shenanigans–whereby
ranking was determined by sales. He who sold the most earned the highest
rank; and so forth down. Of particular interest were those artists that only managed but once to make the
rankings. Some were truly fabulous–Hendrix, Joplin, Perkins, Diddley. Most were not so. What’s the
story? Why just one hit? What became of the promise?
A Note From STEVE KING & JOHNNIE PUTNAM All-Night Hosts. WGN-Radio 720AM, 1997
Karma–believe in it? This book was written by a man fulfilling his karma.
Wayne Jancik was destined to write this book from that preteen summer
when he was confined to bed while running the gamut of childhood illnesses.
The only thing that made the chicken- pox itch a little less or the measles a
little less annoying was the sound of each new 45 Wayne’s dad brought home
as a present for his ailing son. Some thing about the then-new rock-and-roll
records Wayne heard not only helped him to feel better but seemed to be
opening up a whole new world that he just had to explore.
As time and illness passed, Wayne accumulated more and more 45s and was soon thoroughly caught
up in the excitement of Elvis, the Beatles, and the many individuals who followed them to achieve rock-
legend status. But it wasn’t just the legends; it was the music that was important. And as Wayne soon
discovered, unlike Elvis and company, many of those who made some of the most memorable music
that found its way into the upper reaches of the charts were able to accomplish that feat only once.
As an adult, Wayne might have left his childhood toys behind but not his records. He continued to
accumulate more and more and more records (approaching 200,000 at last count!). But he has
matured into a man who is capable of making extraordinary sacrifices for his wife, Charlene (make
that “Saint Charlene”). Why, just recently, he allowed one complete room of their house to be totally
without records, and he gets the shakes only a little when he walks through it quickly.
For the past several years, starting shortly after the publication of the first edition of One Hit Wonders,
Wayne has been a monthly guest on our radio show. We’ve come to understand that this is a man who
doesn’t just write about and enjoy the artists and the music; he is PASSIONATE about them. He wonders
about the stories–the hows, the whys, the accidents, the jokes, the loves, the frustrations –whatever it was
that resulted in that one hit. Somewhere in the deep recesses of Wayne’s mind there is probably a juke-
box that needs this information in order to be able to play the final chorus of each song.
This book is the result of Wayne’s fascination with the music and the people who made it. These are the
stories of those who had a single moment in the spot light. In a way, this book is also a diary of Wayne’s
passion and the artists who supplied the soundtrack to it. If you are a child of any of the rock-and-roll
generations, then this soundtrack is yours, too. So, sit back, relax, pop a quarter into the jukebox of
your mind, and let the pages, the records, and the memories start turning.
Billboard magazine began publishing on November 1, 1894. But it wasn’t
until July 20, 1940, that this “international newsweekly of music and home
entertainment” began its “Music Popularity Chart” (”I’ll Never Smile Again”
by Tommy Dorsey was the very first number one disk), a weekly reporting
on the best-selling records in America. To complicate matters–a complication that exists through this
day–Billboard published more than one pop chart each week. There were several charts: “Best Sellers
in Stores,” “Most Played in Jukeboxes,” “Most Played by Jockeys” and the “Honor Roll of Hits.”
Although a “Top 100” was published as early as November 12, 1955, pop historians emphasize the date
August 4, 1958 as the “true test” of a record’s popularity was indicated by the “Best Sellers in Stores” list
because it was based on the actual retail sales. The records included and the positions secured by these
recordings up through August 4, 1958, were tabulated by Joel Whitburn, the author of Top Pop Singles in
its’ many updates. All such positions reflect Whitburn’s system of integrating these competing charts.
Since that date–August 4, 1958–the magazine’s “Hot 100” has been acclaimed as the definitive source
for the weekly ratings of the nation’s most popular records. Though it must be noted that for years the
industry magazine had competition from Record World and Cashbox. Years back, both disappeared
from the land-scape, but as this site is updated the plan is to include the chartings and differences regis-
tered by these two fine publications.
All chart positions noted in this work after August 4, 1958, are identical to those of Billboard’s “Hot 100”
Who Is Wayne Jancik ?
Wayne Jancik by day has been a Clinical Social Worker with the Chicago Public
School system; having accumulating several degrees. He has hoarded possibly
the largest privately owned recorded music collection in the known world-
Hundreds of thousands of 33s, 45s, 78s, 8-tracks, cassettes, CDs and the rest (as
documented on CBS News Nightwatch and “Wild Chicago,” a series devoted to
oddities and their possessors). Despite the responsibility and profundity of such
an auditory gathering, Jancik is certifiably”normal” and quite the active advocate of mental health. He is
the co-author of Cult Rockers and Noise; was the editor of DISCoveries magazine and has been a columnist
with the Chicago Sun Times, RPM and the Music Express. His verbiage has appeared in the Chicago Daily
News, Record Review, Illinois Entertainer and Goldmine magazine. Jancik for 21 years had been heard
monthly on “Life After Dark,” the Steve King & Johnnie Putnam all-night program heard on WGN-Radio
720 (AM). for those outside of Canada and the 38 US state coverage, the program was heard via real Audio.
Wayne Jancik is all ear and can be quickly contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org