Tuesday, January 10, 2006

One Hit Wonders Hall Of Fame: Norman Greenbaum

This is the first in an occasional series on One Hit Wonders (OHWs). It's dedicated to those artists who, for whatever reason, rose briefly to recording success, only to find repeat success elusive. Some were novelty acts or groups created for a one time session (The Archies, The Pipkins). Others were established artists who had long careers, but managed to crack the Top 40 only once (Lou Reed, The Grateful Dead).

The focus of this series is to spotlight the artists who toiled in the shadows and shone brightly for a few weeks. Artists who had one great song in them. Norman Greenbaum was one such artist.

Greenbaum was a West Coast singer/songwriter who formed a psychedelic outfit called Dr. West's Medicine Show and Junk Band in 1965. He went solo in the late 60's and shot to #4 in April, 1970 with Spirit In The Sky. The song was a druggy gospel tune, made weirder by the fact that Greenbaum was Jewish. Its unmistakeable fuzz guitar riff and wigged-out background vocals made it a classic.

Greenbaum continued recording for a few years, and gave it up entirely to live on a Northern California dairy farm. Spirit has endured in its original form, as well as in covers by Doctor And The Medics (Doctorin' The Tardis, an international hit capitalizing on the Dr. Who craze), Nina Hagen, Bauhaus, and Elton John (!).

Norman Greenbaum - Spirit In The Sky


Actually Doctor And The Medics had nothing to do with Doctorin' The Tardis it
was KLF as the Timelords and spirit in the sky as far as i know is not even
sampled in it.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:25 AM  

I stand corrected. It was The Timelords/KLF who did Doctorin' the Tardis. D and the M's did a version of Spirit around the same time. For some reason, I thought they were in the KLF orbit. Doctorin' was an updated mix of Rock and Roll, Parts I & II by Gary Glitter, with samples from The Sweet and the Dr. Who thrown in.

By Blogger MadCatJoey, at 9:49 AM  

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