Great Rock One Hit Wonders of 1981

Originally, this post was going to be a promotion for an unsigned band whose demo has happened to come into my possession. When I told the band I was going to write about them, they were going to send me a picture of themselves but since that hasn’t happened yet, I’m afraid it will have to wait till next time. So instead I will post about the one hit wonders that graced us in 1981.

Joe Dolce

Joe Dolce

NO this isn’t a wind up! I am including “Shaddap You Face” by Joe Dolce among the one hit wonders. Yes, the song was a total wind up but Mr Dolce was probably laughing all the way to the bank. Besides, I have a more mercenary reason for putting it here. See, my ex wife was a big fan of Ultravox back in the 80s and in 1981, their hit “Vienna” was destined for the number in the UK charts. However, this strange song by Joe came along and usurped the top spot. My ex has never forgiven him for that and although we’re on amicable terms now,  the thought does bring a sinister smile to my face.


This might seem a wind up too but if you were around in 1981, you will remember Pac Man. This was the game to play at video arcades and it caught on so much that a group named Buckner and Garcia made a song about it. “Pac Man Fever” was very cheesy to say the least, the lyrics prove that. So, why am I including it here? The answer is that, “Pac Man Fever” gets my vote for being the worst song with a cool guitar solo. That’s the only reason why I liked it. After all, I never played Pac Man that much; instead I was getting my initials down on the top ten lists on Bezerk.



Climax Blues Band

Climax Blues Band

My British readers are now jumping up and down in sheer anger for calling the Climax Blues Band one hit wonders. I know they had much more success in the UK and were still going strong ten years after their only US hit “I Love You” was in the charts. Back in 1991-2, I used to work at a factory down the road from the famous Royal Standard pub in Walthamstow, London and I would see the band posted on the board outside for a Saturday night gig on several occasions. But, “I Love You” was the only song I would remember them for, especially as it’s one I can associate with yet another dancer at The Driftwood. I can never remember her name though.



Now it’s the turn of American readers to blow a gasket, especially those in the Northwest but I have always considered Quarterflash to be one hit wonders. After a little research, I saw that they had some other hits but that was in early 1982 and I was on my second tour overseas. Other songs didn’t make it across the Atlantic and like the Rolling Stones’ “Waiting on a Friend,” Quarterflash’s greatest hit, “Harden My Heart” was also blasting out of juke boxes in cafes in Toulon, France. This is the best of the songs I have mentioned so far, it is a true rock song. Back then, some were calling lead singer Rindy Ross, the next Pat Benatar. I wouldn’t go that far but Ross did have an excellent voice.

Kim Carnes

Kim Carnes

Always sounding like she had a frog in her throat, Kim Carnes dominated the US and other countries’ singles charts with her most famous hit, “Bette Davis Eyes.” Like Quarterflash and the Climax Blues Band, there is much scope for debate as whether or not she should be a one hit wonder. She has many song writing credits to her name including songs for David Cassidy, Kenny Rogers and Barbra Streisand, I know not real rockers. That’s why I was glad that this song tended to be slightly more rock.

We can sum up that the songs from one hit wonders in 1981 went from the ridiculous to the serious. Two of the ones mentioned here evoke the John McEnroe, “You can’t be serious” approach but the the ones that were are definitely good songs in their own right.

Next post: Hopefully- Another Band That Should be Signed

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11 Responses to “Great Rock One Hit Wonders of 1981”

  1. If you like Climax Blues Band, you should drink in The Grapes in Stafford


  2. Always associate Bette Davis Eyes with the adverts for Seven Up. Or I think it was Seven Up. 1981 is so far gone it could have been anything.


  3. Joe Dolce? NOOOO !!!


  4. I love Bette Davis Eyes, such a great song.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Great Rock One Hit Wonders of 1981 [80sMETALMAN’S BLOG, blog] […]

    Liked by 2 people

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