31 Best One Hit Wonders Of The 60s

As long as we've had hits, we've had one hit wonders. Men Without Hats weren't the first, and Vanilla Ice won't be the last. One hit wonders were as plentiful in the 60s as in other decades. Here are some of the best one hit wonders of the 60s.

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1. “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris

Song year: 1963

We associate The Ventures with “Wipe Out,” but the Surfaris were the first to score a chart-topper with “Wipe Out.”

They recorded the instrumental and released it on an independent label in 1963, and it reached number two. It was kept out of the top spot by a Stevie Wonder song, so there's no shame in that.

2. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by The Tokens

Song year: 1961

Every Millennial knows this song because Timon sang it in The Lion King, not because The Tokens had a huge impact on world culture.

An unknown, illiterate African cattle herder named Solomon Linda first came up with the bones of the song, then called “Mbube” (Zulu for “lion”), and it was a ditty about the predator that wanted to eat the cows under his care.

For some reason, the song got popular via nightclubs in Africa and Pete Seeger, and the Tokens ended up with a worldwide number-one hit.

3. “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”

Song year: 1968

Iron Butterfly vocalist Doug Ingle sang this song while writing it (a bit tipsy), and drummer Ron Bushy wrote it down. The drunken pronunciation of “in the Garden of Eden” came out, “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

The 17-minute song—the first heavy-metal single—was a Top 40 hit, several major acts have covered it, and the song's legendary drum solo inspired Ringo Starr's work on “The End.”

4. “I Fought The Law” by The Bobby Fuller Four

Song year: 1966

As pervasive as “I Fought The Law” has continued to be in pop culture, one would be forgiven for not knowing it was from a one-hit-wonder band. That's because it's been a hit for several acts over the years.

Sonny Curtis wrote it when he was playing with The Crickets, Buddy Holly's band, so the Bobby Fuller Four hit was actually a cover. It went to number nine, and then Fuller died of an apparent suicide in 1966.

5. “Hang On Sloopy” by The McCoys

Song year: 1965

The McCoys' version was a cover, but it inspired the Ohio State University marching band to play it at games. It was rumored that the song was written about Dorothy Sloop, an Ohio jazz pianist and singer.

The Yardbirds recorded it after Eric Clapton left and Jeff Beck joined. So there's a connection between this cutesy one-off and rock royalty.

6. “Dominique” by Sœur Sourire

Song year: 1963

“Sœur Sourire” means “Sister Smile” in French, but “Dominique” was often credited to The Singing Nun.

A testament to the fact that nobody really knows what songs will be hits, “Dominique” is about Saint Dominic, a 12th-century priest who founded the Dominican Order of Preachers.

It was a number-one hit in seven countries, including the decidedly non-French-speaking US, and won The Singing Nun four Grammys.

7. “Blame It On The Bossa Nova” by Eydie Gormé

Song year: 1963

It might seem wrong to call Eydie Gormé a one-hit-wonder. After all, we know her from Steve and Eydie, a pop singing duet she sang in with her husband, Steve Lawrence, that first started performing on The Tonight Show in the Steven Allen era.

Gorme recorded “Blame It On The Bossa Nova” in 1963 and scored a global number one with it.

8. “If You Wanna Be Happy” by Jimmy Soul

Song year: 1963

Many radio stations banned “If You Wanna Be Happy” because it used the phrase “ugly girl,” so, of course, everyone wanted to hear it. The sentiment was that the secret to a happy marriage is marrying an unattractive woman. It's not the most feminist song ever, but it went to number one.

9. “Israelites” by Desmond Dekker

Song year: 1968

Desmond Dekker's true claim to fame may be that he brought Bob Marley to the attention of record execs. But before that, he recorded “Israelites,” the first international reggae hit.

Dekker would go on to get name-checked in a Beatles song (he's the Desmond in “Ob-La-Di”) and have a few reggae hits outside the US, but “Israelites” was his major contribution to pop music.

10. “Ode To Billie Joe” by King Curtis and The Kingpins

Song year: 1967

Most people recall “Ode To Billie Joe” as a Bobbie Gentry hit, and it was, but King Curtis and The Kingpins recorded an instrumental version the same year Gentry had her success.

The song's dark subject matter (Billie Joe kills himself) drove public interest so that even though the Kingpins' version was instrumental, people were still intrigued. It was a Top Ten R&B hit.

11. “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam

Song year: 1969

In a serpentine tale of musicians trying to get exposure, Gary DeCarlo, Paul Leka, and Dale Frashuer were cutting filler songs for use as B-sides. They laid down “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” in one take, and it became a multi-week number-one hit.

Boston White Sox fans began singing it in the stands to the losing team in the 70s because they're White Sox fans, and of course, they did.

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One Comment

  1. What about the Danleers, One Summer Night, Tommy Roe, Sheila, Bobby Vinton, Roses are Red Leslie Gore AKA LEslie Sue Goldstein, It’sy Party, The Shirelles, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, Lol Christy The Gypsy Cried!, Little Peggy March, I Will Follow Him! ETC, ETC, ETC.

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