After garnering all kinds of interest in last week’s “Lazy Sunday” video, I figured it was worth making a trip back to the same music well of my youth, to both celebrate the first day of Summer and tell you about another artist whose music you’ve definitely heard but of whom you’ve not.
Tony Burrows. Ring a bell…?
I thought not.
But there was a time when Tony was charting more hits in the Top Ten than “The Beatles” and “The Rolling Stones” put together, bands he once opened for on the UK concert circuit.
Tony got his start in Bristol, England, playing in several bands and ultimately becoming a much sought after session singer.
His career path was not unlike those of “The Four Seasons” or “The Supremes”, spending years “20 Feet From Stardom” backing up known singers and bands or filling in the notes they couldn’t actually hit themselves.
Sometimes session players get a break. Usually because somebody with a song nobody else wants pays to have it recorded, or because a record producer decides to try out a sound nobody else is doing.
Such was the case in 1967, just as the “Love, Peace & Groovy” thing was getting started and everybody was wearing paisley. The session group was named “The Flower Pot Men” and the song was “Let’s All Go To San Francisco”.
Could the marketing message have been any clearer if Don Draper himself had left his meditation session in Big Sur to deliver it?
The song became Tony’s first hit.
THE FLOWER POT MEN
Despite their initial success,“The Flower Pot Men” melted away into the late 60’s expanding Peter Max landscape and Tony went back to the studio, resigned to being just another “One-Hit-Wonder”.
He labored there for a couple more years, before once again being tagged for another manufactured group to sell another song on which everybody else had passed.
That tune, with a nonsensical title so long it almost wouldn’t fit on a 45, “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” went all the way to #1 in February of 1970 for a group called…
The song had been recorded almost a year earlier and so confused was the record company as to who had really been in the band, the video released for it featured somebody else they had under contract mouthing the lead vocals.
Said confusion may have been compounded by the fact that a week after Edison Lighthouse hit the top spot, two new songs debuted in the Top Ten, both studio bands featuring Tony Burrows –- “Brotherhood of Man” and “White Plains”…
BROTHERHOOD OF MAN
Despite charting three songs in the Top Ten in the same week, Tony remained unnoticed and none of those three groups ever had another big hit. Tony Burrows now had the dubious reputation of being a “one-hit-wonder” four times over.
But his run wasn’t finished.
A month later, he notched his fifth “one-hit-wonder” title with a group called “The Pipkins” and a novelty tune “Gimme Dat Ding”. Now responsible for four tunes of that month’s Top 40.
Despite this unparalleled “success”, Tony went right on being a session singer, probably earning more money than he ever would have fronting a barely known band touring clubs and small venues.
Thus -- four years later -- he became a “one-hit-wonder” for the SIXTH time with a song that would be the biggest hit of that Summer, performed by yet another cobbled together studio unit called “First Class”.
It’s a song that just screams Summertime to anybody who hears it, most of whom don’t know they’re listening to the ultimate “one-hit-wonder”.
To further confuse things -- when the video was released to capitalize on the song’s success, somebody else once again stood in for Tony Burrows, lip-syncing his voice while he was back in the studio, helping make a hit for somebody else.
Enjoy Your Sunday, the first day of Summer and –- “Beach Baby”…