It’s not uncommon for a television performer to use the popularity of his or her TV series as the springboard for a music career. Ricky Nelson may be the most famous, but there have been numerous others. Lorne Greene scored a surprising #1 hit with 1964’s “Ringo,” a song about a legendary gunfighter (technically, Lorne spoke most of the words). In the 1980s, at the height of Moonlighting, Bruce Willis had a hit with his cover of the Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself.” And, of course, stars of daytime dramas encountered great success on the charts in the 1980s. General Hospital heartthrobs Rick Springfield (“Jessie’s Girl”) and Jack Wagner (“All I Need”) notched several hits, while Michael Damian from The Young and the Restless topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1989 with “Rock On.”
Still, the best decade for TV stars-turned-pop-singers remains the 1970s. So, without further ado, here are our picks for the five biggest hit songs of the 1970s–that were sung by TV stars.
1. I Think I Love You – The Partridge Family
Hey, so what are you so afraid of? Although The Partridge Family TV series was never a huge hit, this song–played twice on the show–went to #1 in 1970. Its success was no doubt helped by David Cassidy‘s immense popularity among teenage girls. Actually, he and his stepmother Shirley Jones were the only members of TV’s Partridge Family to sing on the single. The “Partridge Family” produced several follow-up hits such as “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted” and “I Woke Up in Love This Morning.”
2. The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia – Vicki Lawrence
Best known for her comedic talents on The Carol Burnett Show (and later Mama’s Family), Vicki Lawrence became a one-hit wonder when she recorded Night in 1972. The song was written by her then-husand Bobby Ross, who first offered it to Cher. The story of the “night they hung an innocent man” reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold a million copies.
3. Don’t Give Up on Us – David Soul
The blonde-haired star of Starsky and Hutch crooned this soulful ballad in 1976. It unexpectedly became a worldwide smash, reaching #1 in both the U.S. and Great Britain. While he had several other big hits on the British charts, he never cracked the Top 40 again in the U.S.
4. Da Do Ron Ron – Shaun Cassidy
The Crystals first scored a hit with “Da Do Ron Ron” in 1963. Shaun Cassidy–Shirley Jones’ son and David Cassidy’s stepbrother–recorded it for his self-titled album, which was released in Europe in 1976. By the time the catchy ditty hit U.S. airwaves in 1977, Shaun was starring in The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. (Shaun played teen sleuth Joe Hardy, with Parker Stevenson as his brother Frank). Cassidy had two other Top 10 hits that same year with “That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Hey Deanie” (both songs were written by Eric Carmen of “All By Myself” fame).
5. Let Her In – John Travolta
Two years before Grease and while he was still a Sweathog on Welcome Back, Kotter, John Travolta released several singles. None of them gained any traction until the treacly “Let Her In” went to #9. Travolta had two minor hits that peaked in the 30s before he teamed up with Olivia Newton-John on the Grease #1 smash “You’re the One That I Want.”
Got a favorite 1970s song–sung by a TV star–that I omitted? If so, please let me know!
Rick29 is a film reference book author and a regular contributor at the Classic Film & TV Café , on Facebook and Twitter. He’s a big fan of MovieFanFare, too, of course!