I’ve always said that I dislike the ‘one-hit wonder’ label, but a couple of things have occurred to me lately. First of all, writing about lesser-known musical artists is a big part of what the GMC is all about, and it’s almost impossible to do that without including one-hit wonders. The other thing is that when you take into consideration the fact that 99% of those striving for stardom would kill to have even one big-selling record, maybe we should be giving one-hit wonders a little more respect.
Let’s start with Cathy Carr, who had a million-seller in the 1950s with a song called “Ivory Tower.” Although Gale Storm and Otis Williams had solid hits with the same song during the same time period, it was Carr’s version that did best, climbing rapidly up the charts and peaking at number two in June of 1956.
Bronx-born Angelina Helen Catherine Cordovano began her career very early, appearing on local TV while still a child. By the early 1950s she was in her late teens and calling herself Cathy Carr, and had started to showcase her singing and dancing skills in various USO shows. She next began working as a singer with various big bands, including Sammy Kaye‘s well-regarded outfit, and before long started looking for a record deal.
Carr initially signed up with Coral, but didn’t really cause much of a ripple among the record-buying public. However, a new deal with Fraternity seemed to improve her sales, and her third platter for them was the big one. However, “Ivory Tower” would be her only hit record. Even though she continued working at it over the next decade or so, changing record companies a time or two, none of her singles came close to hit status and she eventually faded from the spotlight. She was just 52 when she died in 1988.
Cathy Carr – “I’m Gonna Change Him”
2 thoughts on “Rethinking One-Hit Wonders”
Ivory Tower – One of my favorite 50’s tunes and always has been. Unfortunately for Cathy Carr, I heard Otis Williams and His Charms’ version first on a jukebox at King’s Drugstore and never looked back! 🙂
Similar story for me, but I seem to remember Gale Storm’s version.