Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: Can you give me a list of reasonably famous vinyl era pop stars who never had a Top 10 song?

I know of two, Jimi Hendrix and Rick James, but there are bound to be others.
—Chubby in Cancun, Mexico

DEAR CHUBBY: Yes, but who is and isn't famous is a bit too subjective, not to mention expansive.

Quantifying the research, by equating fame to record sales, narrows the scope while retaining the core of your question.

Your mention of Jimi Hendrix and Rick James is interesting in that it provides the perfect framework for the task.

Hendrix is the top-selling LP artist (1948 through 1989) to not have a Top 10 single. His highest charting single, “All Along the Watchtower,” only reached No. 20. Like several others in this exclusive gathering, Jimi was far more successful with albums than singles.

Rick James is much further down on the LP sales list, far enough for there to be over 300 total names between him and Hendrix, the majority of whom had at least one Top 10 hit (not counting specialized charts).

Twixt the Hendrix-James bookends are 56 familiar stars from nearly every music genre, each one owing their success more to long-play vinyl than to the 7-inch format:

1. Jimi Hendrix
2. Nancy Wilson
3. Frank Zappa/Mothers of Invention
4. Enoch Light and the Light Brigade
5. Elvis Costello
6. Dave Matthews Band
7. Bob Marley and the Wailers
8. Hank Williams Jr.
9. Waylon Jennings
10. B.B. King
11. Bill and Gloria Gaither
12. Black Sabbath
13. Emmylou Harris
14. Jimmy Smith
15. Bob James
16. Harry Connick Jr.
17. Poco
18. Mannheim Steamroller
19. Miles Davis
20. Iron Maiden
21. Pat Metheny
22. Lou Reed
23. Robert Goulet
24. Peter Nero
25. Crusaders (a.k.a., Jazz Crusaders)
26. Dwight Yoakam
27. Judas Priest
28. Vince Gill
29. Spyro Gyra
30. Earl Klugh
31. Herbie Mann
32. Herbie Hancock
33. Stevie Ray Vaughan
34. Emerson, Lake & Palmer
35. Jerry Vale
36. Teddy Pendergrass
37. Chet Atkins
38. Ted Nugent
39. Boston Pops Orchestra
40. Sammy Hagar
41. Leon Russell
42. Megadeth
43. Kris Kristofferson
44. John Gary
45. Charley Pride
46. John Mayall
47. Merle Haggard
48. Traffic
49. George Winston
50. Jack Jones
51. Nine Inch Nails
52. Blue Oyster Cult
53. Stephen Stills
54. Marshall Tucker Band
55. Al Jarreau
56. Robert Plant
57. David Sanborn
58. Rick James

Though not on the list of top album sellers, here are three R&B stars whose significant singles sales, without reaching the Pop Top 10, qualifies them for inclusion: Bobby Bland; Solomon Burke; and Chuck Jackson.

DEAR JERRY: I'm writing about the music in the 1969 western comedy, “The Good Guys and the Bad Guys,” starring Robert Mitchum and George Kennedy.

It begins with some pretty dramatic orchestration, and some singing about “a man grown old.” I have asked music stores for the theme for “The Good Guys and the Bad Guys,” but was told no soundtrack record exists for that film.

If I ever hear it again, it will have to be with your help.
—Claudette Jefferson, Evansville, Ind.

DEAR CLAUDETTE: I can help, only because you said “hear it” rather than “find the record.”

The actual title, “The Ballad of Marshal Flagg,” makes no mention of guys, good or bad. The singer of this Ned Washington tune is Glenn Yarbrough.

While there is no soundtrack for this Warner Bros. film, I expected to at least find this cut on one of Yarbrough's records, specifically among the five he made for W.B. (1968-1971). I could not. It may not have been issued apart from the soundtrack.

However, “The Ballad of Marshall Flagg,” who is Robert Mitchum's character in the film, is easily enjoyed on YouTube. Just click here.

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