Among all the classic songs that have been performed by artists known as one-hit wonders, there are some that just seem to be sort of special. Designating them as so might be a matter of personal opinion, but one I’d nominate is 1962’s “Hey! Baby,” with vocal by Bruce Channel and harmonica accompaniment by Delbert McClinton. After all, it was more than a good song. It was also an inspiration for a fledgling group that helped support Channel’s British tour — the Beatles.
At the time it was recorded, Channel had already been been performing the song in his act for a couple of years. He’d co-written it (with Margaret Cobb) and had employed his bluesy style and Texas drawl on it and a number of other songs that eventually made it into the recording studio.
McClinton added his distinctive harmonica to several of the songs, and his unforgettable beginning of “Hey! Baby” might have helped the song stand out from the pack. In any case, it became a huge number-one hit and propelled the act to international stardom, which explains why they were soon touring Great Britain — where they encountered the Beatles.
Although the future superstars would certainly have appreciated Channel’s singing, it’s said that John Lennon was especially intrigued by McClinton’s harmonica style. Several of the Beatles’ early hits would feature Lennon’s own harmonica play, unmistakably inspired by McClinton.
Channel continued to perform for a number of years and had a minor hit with 1968’s “Keep On,” but was never able to recapture the magic of his megahit. However, like many other stars from the era he has found new life in the ‘oldies’ movement, and at last word is still performing occasionally — sometimes joined by his old pal, McClinton.