The following is a list of lesser-known country music hits from the 1970s and 80s.
"Dance the Two Step" by Susie Allanson (1980)
Prior to this song Allanson had four Top 10 US Country music hits including a 1978 cover of Buddy Holly's "Maybe Baby" and a 1979 cover of the Bee Gees' "Words." Her biggest hit was "We Belong Together" which reached #2 on the US Country charts in 1978. It was somewhat a surprise when "Dance the Two Step" topped out at #23 on the Country Music charts. However, the song enjoyed a lasting popularity throughout the first part of the 1980s as it was played regularly in country dance clubs and bars across the US.
Though the song was not one of her top charting hits it does remain one of her most popular songs to this very day.
"Who Were You Thinking Of" by Dandy and the Doolittle Band (1980)
This one is a true forgotten gem. The song reached #49 on the US Hot 100 Singles chart as well as #54 on the country charts.
The song was co-written by Jim Glaser who first came to fame in the group Tompall and the Glaser Brothers. Jim had his own successful solo career with Ten Top 40 Country music hits.
"Somebody's Knockin'" by Terri Gibbs (1980)
When Terri Gibbs first hit the scene in 1980 with "Somebody's Knockin'" she received a huge amount of attention mostly because of her unusual perfect pitch and deep-toned voice and also the fact that blind. With her raw talent and ability to draw the attention of the public the expectation was that she would go on to have a long line of hits over the next few years. That did not happen. "Somebody's Knockin'" was Terri's only major hit. The song reached #13 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart as well as #8 on the US Country charts and #3 on the US Adult Contemporary charts. The song was also a big hit in Canada and New Zealand. Gibbs did manage to have four more Top 20 US Country hits between 1981 to 1983 but after that the chart positions quickly declined.
"Jose Cuervo" by Cindy Jordan (1981)
"Jose Cuervo" was a regional semi-hit for Cindy Jordan which was popular in country bars and clubs in metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami. Unfortunately, Cindy's rendition of the song did not catch on and failed to chart. Cindy did have the opportunity to make money with the song as follows in this brief biography.
Cindy wrote "Jose Cuervo" in 1977 when she was a cocktail waitress in 1977. A few years later she entered the song in a country music talent search sponsored by Los Angeles country music radio station KLAC-AM. From there the song was pitched to country music legend Johnny Duncan but he passed on the song.
Cindy rewrote the song from a female perspective and recorded it herself on the tiny Bullhead label. KLAC began playing the song and Warner Bros picked up the song for national distribution. The song failed to chart but captured the attention of famed producer passed the song on to Sheely West who recorded it in 1983 and took the song to #1 on the Country Music charts in both the US and Canada. Shelly West's recording of the song ended up being the #1 country music hit of 1983. Though Jordan did not have a hit with her song she did make a nice loot of royalties from West's recording.
Personally, I favor Cindy Jordan's original recording far more than Shelly West's, just my opinion.
"Who's Cheatin' Who" by Charly McClain (1980)
Charly McClain is probably the least known country music superstar in the United States. She's had 27 songs make it into the Top 40 of the US Country Music charts. 17 of those songs made it into the Top 15 with 10 of them placing in the Top 5.
Released in November 1980 "Who's Cheatin' Who" made it to #1 on the US Country charts on February 14, 1981. Subsequently Alan Jackson covered the song in 1997 and took it to #2.
"I Want to Hold You In My Dreams Tonight" by Stella Parton (1975)
The younger sister of country music legend, Dolly Parton, had a string of eight Top 40 Country music hits. Her biggest hit is "I Want to Hold You In My Dreams Tonight" which made it to #9 on the country charts. The song was co-written by Stella and Bob G. Dean.
"Looks Like Love Again" by Dann Rogers (1979)
"Looks Like Love Again" was a country music ballad which was released in October 1979 and peaked at #41 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles chart. The song also made it to #6 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Though oddly enough this song by the nephew of country music legend, Kenny Rogers, failed to make it into the Country music charts. However, he did make it into the Country charts in 1987 with "Just a Kid from Texas."
Songwriter Dana Merino also wrote "You Need a Woman Tonight" which was a Top 40 hit for Captain & Tennille in 1979 and co-wrote "K.I.S.S.I.N.G. which was a #1 Dance hit for Siedah Garrett in 1988.
"The Matador" by Sylvia (1981)
"The Matador" was the first concept country music video to be produced. The song achieved a fair amount of popularity due to its music video being aired on Country Music Television (CMT).
The song opens with Spanish influenced acoustic guitar but quickly moves into a contemporary rhythmic country tempo. The song was Sylvia's first Top 10 hit reaching #9 on the US Country charts and #8 on the Canadian Country charts.
"Hangin' Around" by The Whites (1982)
The Whites is a country music vocal group consisting of sister Sharon White on guitar and Cheryl White on bass and their dad Buck White on Mandolin. "Hangin' Around" was their biggest hit reaching #9 on the US Country charts and #5 on the Canadian Country charts.
The song was produced by bluegrass music legend, Ricky Skaggs, who is Sharon's husband.
The following is a short list of pop music superstars the placed songs on the country music charts.
"Sweet Sweet Smile" by Carpenters (1978)
The sweet, voiced Karen Carpenter gave a liltingly irresistible upbeat and optimistic feeling vocal performance with "Sweet Sweet Smile." After a near three year absence from the Top 10 record producers and radio programmers alike we're counting on this rhythmic country-pop tune to bring Carpenters back to the top of the charts.
"Sweet Sweet Smile," which was written by Juice Newton made it only to #44 on the US Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. However, the song was being played on country music stations across the US and in the Spring of 1978 the song made it to #8 on the US Country charts as well as #6 on the Canadian Country charts. The song was also an Adult Contemporary (AC) hit reaching #7 on both the US and Canadian AC charts.
"Every Face Tells a Story” by Olivia Newton-John (1976/77)
Throughout the 1970s Olivia Newton-John achieved success on the country music charts with 13 Top 40 country hits. Several of her classic hits such as "If You Love Me Let Me Know," "Have You Never Been Mellow," and "Please Mr. Please" were big country music hits.
"Every Face Tells a Story," is a lesser known country rocker by Newton-John which reached #21 on the US Country charts but zoomed to #1 on the country charts in Canada.
"Poor Poor Pitiful Me" by Linda Ronstadt (1978)
Warren Zevon ("Werewolves of London") wrote and recorded this in 1976. Zevon's version was produced by superstar Jackson Browne. Lindsay Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac) provided harmony vocals and David Lindley played the fiddle.
Linda Ronstadt's recording was released 2 years later and 1978 and was pitched as a country song. Though it did not fair too well on the country music charts reaching only #46 on the US Country charts and #36 on the Canadian Country charts. The song managed to make it into the Top 40 on the pop music charts reaching #31 in both the US and Canada.
We'll end this article with a few lost hits from the Country Music Superstars.
"Get It Up" by Ronnie Milsap (1979)
"Get it Up" charted at #6 on the US Country chart as the B-Side of "In No Time at All." At that point in time #6 was a slight dip on the Country charts as Millsap had just come off a run of 11 consecutive Top 4 country hits with nine of them reaching #1.
"Get It Up" was a disco/funk influenced country song which made it #43 on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles.
"Walk Right Back" by Anne Murray (1978)
"Walk Right Back" was written by Sonny Curtis who also wrote the rebel classic "I Fought the Law" which was a hit by Bobby Fuller Four in 1966 and then The Clash in 1979. Curtis also wrote "Love is All Around" which was the theme for the legendary television series The Mary Tyler Moore Show.
"Walk Right Back" was a major Top 10 hit worldwide in 1961 for The Everly Brothers making it to #1 in the UK and New Zealand. It was also Top 10 in Australia, Canada, Norway, and the US.
Anne Murray's rendition made a splash in 1978 making it to #2 on the Canadian Country charts and #4 on the US Country charts. Interestingly "Walk Right Back" was the single released just before her worldwide mega-hit "You Needed Me."
"Love is a Word" by Juice Newton and Silver Spur (1976)
This was Newton's chart debut making it to #88 on the US Country music charts. This was six years before she became internationally known with huge hits such as "Angel of the Morning" and the classic "Queen of Hearts."
"Love is a Word" was written by Otha Young. Wrote "The Sweetest Thing (I've Ever Known)," which was a #1 Adult Contemporary hit and Country music hit in 1982 as well as reaching #7 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.
Newton's first foray into the Top 10 was with "Sweet Sweet Smile" by Carpenters which made it into the Top 10 of the Country music charts in both the US and Canada in the Spring of 1978. Newton co-wrote the song with Otha Young.
* I love the joy felt in this song!!!
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