Occasionally I’ve written that I think the label ‘one-hit wonder’ is a little overused, and in addition is sometimes unfairly and inaccurately applied — but not always. About forty years ago, a group called Blues Image was probably the perfect definition of ‘one-hit wonder’ with their million-seller, “Ride Captain Ride.”
It all began in 1966 in Florida – Tampa, to be exact – when teenage guitarist Michael Pinera recruited two other local musicians, drummer Joe Lala and percussionist Manuel Bertematti, to play in area clubs. The amorphous group soon added a British import, bassist Malcolm Jones, and later keyboardist Frank Konte, relocating to New York along the way.
They scuffled around the club scene for a while but eventually moved to Los Angeles, where their brand of Latin-flavored rock began to gain some popularity, and they were able to capture a recording contract. Their self-titled debut album was issued in 1968 and generated enough interest for a followup second album, Open, but even though “Ride Captain Ride” became a big hit for them, by 1970 the group was already changing.
Leader Michael Pinera left, and although the group continued for a while with new members, the handwriting was on the wall and they eventually all went their separate ways. Over the next few years, some of the band’s members worked together in various groups and also showed up in other bands. Pinera joined Iron Butterfly and keyboardist Konte was with Three Dog Night for a while in the 1970’s, and by then Blues Image was pretty much just a memory.