They Will Get By: Five Questionable '80s Comebacks from '60s Artists
Rock and roll is a tough and fickle business. One minute you're on top of the world and the next you're on top of a float, blowing kisses to strangers in Branson, Missouri. In between, anything goes. Tonight, Eddie Money, a singer no stranger to the ups and downs of the music business, presents a holiday show at the Grove of Anaheim alongside Lou Gramm of Foreigner and Mickey Thomas of Starship. In honor of their persistence in traveling a bumpy road we present a list of five artists who proved in the '80s that it is never too late for a second act.
"You Got It" (1989)
Twenty-four years after his last charting solo appearance, Roy Orbison hit it big with "You Got It." Unfortunately he had died the month before. The song was written by fellow Wilbury's Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne but one might argue that the formula had been written decades before. With its thundering timpanis and fluttering strings, "You Got It" was a classic Orbison tune that could have fit on any setlist of his career -- except he didn't get any of the songwriting royalties for it.
"Touch of Grey" (1987)
Curiously, "Touch of Grey" is the Grateful Dead's only real radio hit. It was also their first attempt at a music video. It would appear that the best way for the Dead to "get by" was for them to become the Dire Straits. With plucky '80s synths and a bare minimum of guitar noodling, this was the Dead at their commercial peak and creative low.
Eddie Money and Ronnie Spector
"Take Me Home Tonight" (1986)
By 1986 Eddie Money was looking for a comeback of his own. After striking it big with his debut a decade earlier, the boy from Levittown was having little luck on the charts. "Take Me Home Tonight," which pairs Money with Phil Spector's muse Ronnie Spector, was just the ticket. The song features Spector singing the chorus to the Ronnette's 1963 hit "Be My Baby" as the chorus to "Take Me Home Tonight." It proved to be Money's biggest hit, charting almost as well as the original, and relaunched both of singers' careers for the rest of the '80s.
The Beach Boys
Oh, brother. Al Jardine is wearing a Beach Boys hat. Mike Love is wearing a saxophone. And John fucking Stamos is playing the steel drum. It is important to know that when this song was written, there was no such place as Kokomo. The success of the song led to Sandals naming one of their resorts after it. In a national moment of weakness, the song, an innocuous return to the old surfing days, was embraced, making it the only Beach Boys #1 not written by Brian Wilson. Eighteen years later Mike Love tried to catch another Hawaiian shirt in a bottle by recording "Santa's Goin' to Kokomo." We'll spare you the link.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.