Six stunning one-hit wonders from the 1970s

These were all memorable hits back in the 1970s, but somewhat surprisingly they weren't followed up by more from the same artist.

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Ram Jam - Black Betty

The underlying tune here is believed to date back many years and probably originates from an African-American work song. Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter recorded an amazing acapella backed by handclaps version in 1939. You should look that up and have a listen if you weren’t aware of it. You will hear for sure the origin of the more familiar 1970s hit.

That version we will all know and instantly recognise for its very distinctive vocals and guitar riffs came from the New York band Ram Jam in June 1977. It’s an absolute banger of a song that will keep playing in your head. The revised song was arranged, recorded, and released by guitarist Bill Bartlett, and then as often happened with one-hit wonders, a band was formed based on the song to help promote it more widely. It's rare that those who quickly found and put together bands for a hit actually went on to produce more hits, as was the case here. 

It was a huge hit in many countries, number 18 in the US charts, number 7 in the UK and a top chart hit in Australia and many European countries. The Ram Jam version of “Black Betty” is also featured in the video game Rayman Legends, and the movie Kung Pow! Enter The Fist and a Family Guy episode. Perhaps those are where some people first heard those powerful guitar riffs.