On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82. From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend. Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day. For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet. And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).
In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June (and now through July), I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post. On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40. Sometime here in July, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1.
As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”
One of the best comeback stories (if not THE BEST) is the comeback Tina Turner had in 1984 with her big No. 1 hit, “What’s Love Got To Do With It.” Before that, Tina’s sweet 1984 cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” became her first Top 40 hit in more than 10 years, since 1973’s “Nutbush City Limits” (with her ex-husband, Ike Turner) reached No. 22. Released a couple of months in advance of the excellent PRIVATE DANCER album, “Let’s Stay Together” was Tina’s first solo Top 40 hit, after having released four solo albums since 1974.
Tina reaching No. 1 with “What’s Love Got To Do With It” for three weeks in September 1984 was the conduit she needed to jumpstart an already 10-year solo career. She followed “Love” with three more Top 40 hits from PRIVATE DANCER, and a string of nine more Top 40 hits between 1985 and 1993.
Betweeen 1979 and 1989, there were nearly 60 songs that reached No. 15 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and Tina Turner has three of them – “The Best” (from November 1989), “It’s Only Love” (with Bryan Adams, from his monster album, RECKLESS), which was climbing the chart when her other No. 15 hit was peaking, and that hit is “One Of The Living.”
It was the second single released the motion picture, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, which she starred opposite Mel Gibson and served as a worthy foe for Mel’s title character. Tina received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress for her role in MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME.
The follow-up single to “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” which spent a week at No. 2 in September 1985, “One Of The Living” was hot on the heels of “Hero,” rocketing onto the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early October at No. 52. The following week, it switched places with its chart predecessor and reached the Top 40 in its second chart week.
“One Of The Living” made a steady climb up the Hot 100, stopping at No. 15 in November 1985 the same week “It’s Only Love” blasted in as the “Hot Shot Debut” that week. “One Of The Living” spent two weeks at No. 15, and was still on the Hot 100 when the Rockin’ “It’s Only Love” spent a week at No. 15 in mid-January 1986.
Around the globe, “One Of The Living” was a Top 40 hit in several countries, reaching No. 5 in Canada, No. 6 in Germany, No. 7 in Belgium, No. 9 in Finland and Switzerland, No. 10 in the Netherlands, No. 12 in Austria, No. 15 in Ireland, No. 24 in New Zealand, No. 34 in Australia and No. 6 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.
Singer / songwriter Holly Knight (of the band Device, and who had written and/or co-written several hits for Pat Benatar, Bonnie Tyler, Divinyls, Animotion, Heart and Scandal featuring Patty Smyth) wrote “One Of The Living,” and had also written “Better Be Good To Me” (from PRIVATE DANCER). “One Of The Living” would go on to win a Grammy award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
I know a lot of folks have forgotten about this gem, and to this day, that puzzles me. It’s a kick-ass song and a Top 20 hit which showcases her strong vocals and confident attitude to match, not to mention a sweet sax solo. In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite Tina songs, and I just wanted to share it with folks who had either forgotten or didn’t know it existed.
Tina turned 46 when “One Of The Living” spent its two weeks at No. 15, and is now 77, and though she hasn’t released a studio album in nearly 20 years, she was (as of December 2016) working on TINA, a new musical based on her life. It’s scheduled to begin in London’s West End sometime in 2018.
Back in the 80s (and since), Tina Turner has been triumphed for her comeback and strength, after the abuse she suffered for many years by her late husband Ike, and that strength and courage not only resonated through her many hits in the 80s and early 90s, but she’s been an inspiration and a hero(ine) to women all over the world. From stories and articles I’ve read, Tina is quite happy and enjoying life in Switzerland (where she as been a citizen – and married (!) – since 2013), and why not? She’s certainly earned it and then some.
“So now you’re gonna shoot bullets of fire / Don’t want to fight but sometimes you’ve got to / You’re some soul survivor / There’s just one thing you’ve got to know / You’ve got ten more thousand miles to go / Because you’re one of the living / And if we can’t stick together / One of the living / Who’s gonna make it tonight…”