While one hit wonders have been around for as long as we can remember, something happened in the '80s that makes some of those one-and-done songs stand out. That "thing" was a whole bunch of actors deciding to give a music career a try, and finding success...kinda. While the world may have forgotten their mostly ill-advised attempts at music fame, at least they can rest easy knowing they'll always carry the title of "One Hit Wonder."
Bernadette Peters - "Gee Whiz"
Considering how much of her career's success is thanks to Broadway, it's not surprising that Bernadette Peters would have a go at a music career. While her performances on stage and screen have netted her two Tony awards and a Golden Globe, her music career outside of musical theater wasn't quite as lucrative. Her single "Gee Whiz (Look At His Eyes)" topped out at #31 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1980.
John Schneider - "It's Now or Never"
While he found his fame as Bo Duke on Dukes of Hazzard, John Schneider's true passion has been country music. While he had a string of top 10 songs on the country charts in the '80s, he only had one song make the Hot 100: his 1981 cover of Elvis's "It's Now or Never," which peaked at #14.
Rick Moranis - "Take Off"
While it wasn't technically his name on the song, he and SCTV co-star Dave Thomas did release two albums as their "hoser" alter-egos Bob and Doug McKenzie. One song off their first album featured Rush's Geddy Lee (who went to high school with Moranis) and ended up living up to its name. "Take Off" did, in fact, take off, reaching #16 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Frank Stallone - "Far From Over"
While his career has always been overshadowed by that of his much more famous older brother, Sylvester, Frank Stallone has had a decently successful acting career since 1976. While he's released 10 albums since the 1980s, the only song anyone really remembers him for is 1983's "Far From Over," written for the John Travolta film Staying Alive, which peaked at #10.
Lisa Whelchel - "All Because of You"
While she was also a Mouseketeer and on The Love Boat, we all knew her as Blair Warner on the beloved sitcom The Facts Of Life. What you may not know is that she briefly dabbled with a career in Christian Pop music, releasing one album in 1984. Her album reached #17 on the Billboard Contemporary Christian charts, and the most-remembered song was "All Because of You." She would not release any more music after that.
Tracey Ullman - "They Don't Know"
While she was well-known in the U.K. thanks to being featured on several sketch comedy shows, Ullman's music career success (short-lived as it may have been) actually predates her acting fame in the U.S. Her break in America came thanks to her sketch show The Tracey Show, which ran from 1987-1990. However, in 1984, her single "They Don't Know" peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Jack Wagner - "All I Need"
A staple of soap operas, Jack Wagner made his name as Frisco Jones on General Hospital, though he would also appear on The Bold and The Beautiful and Melrose Place. Like so many others in the '80s, he tried his luck at a music career, but his only real success was with his first single. In 1985, his ballad "All I Need" made it to #2, kept out of the #1 spot by Madonna's "Like A Virgin."
But there were also some huge names who tried (and mostly failed) to get their music careers off the ground.
Eddie Murphy - "Party All The Time"
In 1985 Eddie Murphy was riding high on the successes of both his stint on Saturday Night Live and his starring role in Beverly Hills Cop. So what better way to celebrate than by releasing a hit single produced by Rick James? "Party All The Time" made it to #2 on the Hot 100, a feat he would never again be able to match. While his 1989 single "Put Your Mouth On Me" managed to squeak into the top 30, the fact that no one remembers it tells you everything you need to know.
Don Johnson - "Heartbeat"
One of the biggest (and most stylish) heart throbs of the '80s thanks to his role as Detective Sonny Crockett on Miami Vice, Don Johnson actually had a secret talent as a songwriter. In the late '70s he teamed up with Gregg Allman and Dickey Betts to co-write a number of songs for an Allman Brothers album. In 1986 he released his own album, and one of its singles, "Heartbeat" made it to #5 on the charts. Unfortunately, that was as successful as his music career would get.
Gloria Loring - "Friends & Lovers"
Considering she helped her then-husband Alan Thicke compose the theme songs for Diff'rent Strokes and Facts of Life, it's no surprise that Days of Our Lives star Gloria Loring would have some musical talent of her own. In 1985 her duet with Carl Anderson, "Friends & Lovers" would make it to the #2 spot on the Top 100. She did have a previous single break into the Top 100 in 1977, however it was released under the alias "Cody Jameson."
Max Headroom - "Paranoimia"
In a decade full of weird things, probably the weirdest thing the '80s produced was the character Max Headroom. However, the fictional A.I. was popular enough to warrant getting his own movie, two TV shows, a video game, and a stint as the spokesman for New Coke. Thanks to a 1986 team-up with synthpop group Art of Noise, a hit single could also be added to that list of "accomplishments." The song "Paranoimia" only made it to #34, but it stands as a testament to just how strange the 1980s could be.
Billy Crystal - "You Look Marvelous!"
Comedian Billy Crystal is probably best known for his roles in When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, and Monster's Inc, not to mention his title as the "Greatest Oscar's Host Of All Time." But I bet you didn't know that you could add "hit singer" to his list of accomplishments. In 1985 he released the song "You Look Marvelous!" where he performed as his famous Saturday Night Live character Fernando, based on talk show host Fernando Lamas. The song peaked at #58.
Bruce Willis - "Respect Yourself"
When you think of Bruce Willis it's hard not to immediately think of him as John McClane, or even Corbin Dallas. What's hard to imagine, is Bruce Willis as a blues singer, but if that was impossible then we wouldn't be here. In 1987 he released the pop-blues album "The Return of Bruno," which featured the single "Respect Yourself." The song, a cover of The Staple Singers, also featured The Pointer Sisters. Willis's version made it to a respectable #5 on the charts, and while we may like to pretend his music career never happened, we'll always have the music video to remind us that it wasn't all a dream.
Patrick Swayze - "She's Like The Wind"
Of all the actors that have surprised us by experimenting with music careers, Patrick Swayze is the one example that isn't shocking at all. What is shocking is that his music career never took off. His one hit single, "She's Like The Wind" was made for the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing, and made it to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Whether they should have gone into music or not, at least these actors got one hit single before they were forced to return to their day jobs.