Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Top Five Hit Songs of the 1970s--Sung by TV Stars!

It's not uncommon for a television performer to use the popularity of his or her TV series as the springboard for a music career. Ricky Nelson may be the most famous, but there have been numerous others. Lorne Greene scored a surprising #1 hit with 1964's "Ringo," a song about a legendary gunfighter (technically, Lorne spoke most of the words). In the 1980s, at the height of Moonlighting, Bruce Willis had a hit with his cover of the Staple Singers' Respect Yourself. And, of course, stars of daytime dramas encountered great success on the charts in the 1980s. General Hospital heartthrobs Rick Springfield ("Jessie's Girl") and Jack Wagner ("All I Need") notched several hits, while Michael Damian from The Young and the Restless topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1989 with "Rock On."

Still, the best decade for TV stars-turned-pop-singers remains the 1970s. So, without further ado, here are our picks for the five biggest hit songs of the 1970s--that were sung by TV stars.

The whole family appeared on the single,
though only two sang on it.
1. I Think I Love You - The Partridge Family. Hey, so what are you so afraid of? Although The Partridge Family TV series was never a huge hit, this song--played twice on the show--went to #1 in 1970. Its success was no doubt helped by David Cassidy's immense popularity among teenage girls. Actually, he and his stepmother Shirley Jones were the only members of TV's Partridge Family to sing on the single. The "Partridge Family" produced several follow-up hits such as "Doesn't Somebody Want to Be Wanted" and "I Woke Up in Love This Morning."

2. The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia - Vicki Lawrence. Best known for her comedic talents on The Carol Burnett Show (and later Mama's Family), Vicki Lawrence became a one-hit wonder when she recorded Night in 1972. The song was written by her then-husand Bobby Ross, who first offered it to Cher. The story of the "night they hung an innocent man" reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold a million copies.

An odd cover--David's hair doesn't
even look blonde!
3. Don't Give Up on Us - David Soul.  The blonde-haired star of Starsky and Hutch crooned this soulful ballad in 1976. It unexpectedly became a worldwide smash, reaching #1 in both the U.S. and Great Britain. While he had several other big hits on the British charts, he never cracked the Top 40 again in the U.S.

4. Da Do Ron Ron - Shaun Cassidy. The Crystals first scored a hit with "Da Do Ron Ron" in 1963. Shaun Cassidy--Shirley Jones' son and David Cassidy's stepbrother--recorded it for his self-titled album, which was released in Europe in 1976. By the time the catchy ditty hit U.S. airwaves in 1977, Shaun was starring in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. (Shaun played teen sleuth Joe Hardy, with Parker Stevenson as his brother Frank). Cassidy had two other Top 10 hits that same year with "That's Rock 'n' Roll" and "Hey Deanie" (both songs were written by Eric Carmen of "All By Myself" fame).

Trying to master that puppy-dog look...
5. Let Her In - John Travolta. Two years before Grease and while he was still a Sweathog on Welcome Back, Kotter, John Travolta released several singles. None of them gained any traction until the treacly Let Her In went to #9. Travolta had two minor hits that peaked in the 30s before he teamed up with Olivia Newton-John on the Grease #1 smash "You're the One That I Want."

Got a favorite 1970s song--sung by a TV star--that I omitted? If so, please let me know!


  1. Ah ... I remember these well. As a kid I watched "The Partridge Family" religiously, and "I Think I Love You" is still catchy pop, no matter what you think of the show.

  2. "The Partridge Family" is a favourite of mine. I think David Cassidy's comic acting ability is sadly overlooked. Plus, Dave Madden & Danny Bonaduce were a hoot. Bought the albums and had the book cover for my school textbooks.

    Jose Ferrer had a line on "Newhart" as Stephanie's wealthy father that he gave her a gift of buying up radio stations and destroyed all recordings of "Da Do Ron Ron". Cracks me up.

  3. Of course, those were long before the days of Ipods and MP3 players, so we bought 45's of our favorite singles. I had the 45 for both "Don't Give up on Us" and "Let Her In."

    I haven't thought about those songs in years...thanks for the memories.

  4. Rick, I loved Shaun Cassidy and David Cassidy's songs (with and without stepmom Shirley Jones) back in the day, and I'm not ashamed to admit it! :-D In fact, on THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY, in addition to the pop tunes, I always got a kick out of David Cassidy's hilarious sarcastic comic timing! This post was a real treat, Rick; thanks for the memories!