Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers. Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.
The 4-man Rock band The Del Fuegos were formed in Boston in 1980, and were comprised of Tom Lloyd (bass), Woody Giessmann (drums), and brothers Warren Zanes (guitars) and Dan Zanes (guitars / vocals).
The band paid their dues and played wherever they could – bars, lofts, art galleries, clubs, frat houses, gymnasiums and even a state prison, which, over the years led to bigger venues like auditoriums and bigger theaters.
In 1984, the band released their debut album, THE LONGEST DAY, on Slash / Warner Bros. Records. ROLLING STONE magazine named the band the Best New Band of 1984. Tom Petty was apparently a fan (the band opened for him on one of his tours), as was Bruce Springsteen, who jumped on stage with them at one show to play the 60s classic, “Hang On Sloopy.”
The Del Fuegos were even in a Miller beer commercial in 1985. Later that year, the band’s second album (of four) would become their biggest album – BOSTON, MASS. Released in 1985, BOSTON, MASS. featured the singles “Don’t Run Wild” and “I Still Want You,” the latter of which became the band’s lone hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100.
For months, the momentum for BOSTON, MASS. continued to build, and in late May 1986, “I Still Want You” made its debut on the Hot 100 at No. 96. I remember the first time I heard the song, I initially thought the vocals belonged to Billy Idol, who I love, and once I realized who The Del Fuegos were, I went out and picked up the album.
Years later, I was excited to find the 45 of “I Still Want You” at a record show in Portland, Maine, and had to laugh, because it was an alternate version of the album version – it was called the “Horny Mix.” It wasn’t anything sexual, it was a play on words, just meaning there were horns added to the mix. Funny guys. (You can even hear the horn section in the video.)
“I Still Want You” spent a couple weeks at No. 87 in June 1986 and was gone from the Hot 100 after just four weeks. The following year, The Del Fuegos released their third album on Slash, STAND UP, which did not not fare as well as BOSTON, MASS., and Warner Bros. dropped them from the label. The relationship of the Zanes brothers over time was strained, and after they lost their record deal, Warren Zanes and drummer Woody Giessmann left the band.
Dan Zanes and bassist Tom Lloyd picked up a couple new members for the band, and they released their fourth album, 1989’s SMOKING IN THE FIELDS, on RCA Records. Though the album did almost as well on the BILLBOARD album chart as BOSTON, MASS., the band broke up within a year, and of the experience, Dan Zanes said, “The ‘80s were over, we were over.”
After the demise of The Del Fuegos, in 1995, Dan Zanes would release a children’s album (as Dan Zanes and Friends), which won a Grammy Award. Warren Zanes earned himself two Master’s Degrees and a Ph.D. in Visual and Cultural Arts, and is currently the Vice President of Education at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (didn’t know there was such a thing, but that’s pretty cool). Original bassist Tom Lloyd also earned himself a Ph.D., in Envrionmental Engineering, from CalTech in 1999, and original drummer Woody Giessmann founded Right Turn in 2003, a rehab program to help fellow artists with drug addiction and other mental health issues.
For a couple of dates in June 2011, the band got back together for the first time in 21 years for two performances at the famed Paradise Rock Club in Boston, Mass., where the shows raised money for Woody’s Right Turn rehab program. That led to a reunion tour in 2012 and an 8-song EP titled SILVER STAR.
Whether or not you consider “I Still Want You” a hit or the band as a (real) one-hit wonder of the 80s, one thing’s for sure – The Del Fuegos were a great Rock band, and a band (and song) I still want in my record library forever…