Music Weird's third retrospective of old recordings that became new hits serves up 11 more oldies-cum-newies. You can find the previous entries in this series here and here.
1. Billy Vera & the Beaters – "At This Moment"
Billy Vera & the Beaters' "At This Moment" was only a minor hit when first released in 1981. After the song was used in the television sitcom Family Ties, Rhino Records reissued it, and it became a #1 hit in 1987. The reissue was so successful that it even charted on the country and adult contemporary charts!
2. Johnny Horton – "All Grown Up"
Johnny Horton was killed by a drunk driver in 1960, but he had two sizable posthumous hits with reissued singles: "Honky-Tonk Man" (#11 country, 1962) and "All Grown Up" (#26 country, 1963). I love Horton (Music Weird has a post about "The Battle of New Orleans" here), but I find "All Grown Up" extremely annoying.
3. Carl Smith – "Lonely Girl"
In 1964, Columbia put Carl Smith's 1958 recording "Lonely Girl" on the flip side of his new song, "When It's Over." Both sides charted, but "Lonely Girl" was an even bigger hit than "When It's Over." Smith's traditional honky-tonk sound was so consistent that the 1958 recording was little different from the 1964 recording. (You can find both of these songs on a Carl Smith anthology that I produced, The Sixties Hits of Carl Smith.)
4. Bill Haley & the Comets – "Rock Around the Clock"
Bill Haley's "Rock Around the Clock" was only a minor hit when it was first released in 1954. A year later, after it was featured in the film Blackboard Jungle, it topped the pop chart for two months. Since that time, it has been reissued numerous times and has charted numerous times. In the UK, it became a #20 hit in 1968 and a #12 hit in 1974. In the US, it "bubbled under" the Hot 100 in 1968 and returned to the charts yet again in 1974 when it was used as the theme of the television sitcom Happy Days.
5. Michael Jackson – Thriller
After Michael Jackson died in 2009, his 1982 album Thriller, which had already sold tens of millions of copies, soared to #2 on Billboard's Top Pop Catalog Albums chart. It's hard to believe that anyone was left who didn't already own it (although I'll admit that I have never owned it), but Nielsen SoundScan reported that Thriller was the #3 bestselling album of 2009.
6. Youngbloods – "Get Together"
The Youngbloods recorded their rendition of "Get Together," the classic why-can't-we-all-just-get-along counterculture anthem, in 1967. (Jonathan Edwards talks about the Youngbloods a little bit in his interview with Music Weird here.) The song was only a minor hit, but two years later, the National Conference of Christians and Jews featured it in a radio public service announcement, and it became a #1 pop hit in Cash Box.
7. Hank Williams – "Why Don't You Love Me"
This #1 country hit from 1950 was reissued in 1976 and became a middling hit on the country chart. I think that Williams recordings sound raw even for their era, so it must have been weird for country radio listeners in 1976 to hear this song sandwiched between pop-oriented country acts like Crystal Gayle and Dave & Sugar.
8. Aerosmith – "Dream On"
Aerosmith's power ballad "Dream On" was included on the band's 1973 debut album. It was released as a single at that time but didn't crack the Top 40, despite being a #1 hit in Boston, their hometown. Columbia Records reissued the single in 1976, and this time the rest of the country fell in line with Boston, sending "Dream On" into the Top 10.
9. Sweet – "Ballroom Blitz"
The Sweet's "Ballroom Blitz" was a #2 hit in the UK in 1973. It didn't reach the US until two years later, when it went to #5. Internationally, this song spread slowly; it was on the chart in various countries over a span of at least three years.
10. Elvis Presley – Numerous hits
RCA continued to release and re-release Elvis singles after Elvis died in 1977, and many of these singles charted, particularly on the country chart. Some of his old rock and pop hits from the '50s and '60s, like "Wear My Ring Around Your Neck" and "Puppet on a String," became country hits in the late 1970s.
11. Jimmy Dean – "I.O.U."
Jimmy Dean's Mother's Day recitation, "I.O.U.," was a Top 10 country hit in 1976—his first Top 10 hit in a decade and the last of his career. Country DJs trotted the record out for Mother's Day for years afterward, and it registered on the country chart again in 1977 and yet again in 1983.