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 Motors were formed in London in 1977 by Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster, former members of the British Rock band, Ducks Deluxe. Along with drummer Ricky Slaughter and guitarist Bram Tchaikovsky, the band released 3 studio albums between 1977 and 1980.
The band, signed to Virgin Records, saw their first hit, “Dancing The Night Away” (from their debut album, 1), reach No. 42 on the U.K. singles chart, the first of 4 songs that would reach the U.K. singles chart. “Dancing The Night Away” would be covered by Cheap Trick in 1983, appearing on their album, NEXT POSITION PLEASE.
The following year, The Motors had a big U.K. hit on their hands with the song, “Airport,” from the band’s second album, APPROVED BY THE MOTORS. “Airport” reached No. 4 in the U.K., where it was certified Silver, selling a quarter of a million copies. It also reached No. 4 in Switzerland, No. 19 in South Africa, and the Top 40 in Australia and New Zealand.
But, “Airport” and No. 13 follow-up single “Forget About You” was the beginning of the end for The Motors, and in 1978, Bram Tchaikovsky and Ricky Slaughter cut the band in half, leaving founders Nick Garvey and Andy McMaster on their own.
Nick and Andy motored on (pun intended), and they released one more album, TENEMENT STEPS, co-produced by Jimmy Iovine, who had just worked with Bruce Springsteen on THE RIVER and DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, Tom Petty’s DAMN THE TORPEDOES, and EASTER by the Patti Smith Group.
TENEMENT STEPS gave The Motors their fourth and final U.K. hit, “Love And Loneliness.” It reached No. 58. On May 17th, 1980, “Love And Loneliness” also became the first (and only) U.S. hit for The Motors, debuting on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 89. A few weeks later, it spent a lone week at No. 78 and left the Hot 100 after 5 weeks.
“Love And Loneliness” would be covered on the 1986 soundtrack to the film, AMERICAN ANTHEM (another soundtrack that was way better than the film), by Chris Thompson (who sang lead vocals on Manfred Mann’s 1976 No.1 cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Blinded By The Light”).
The Motors, once referred to as a “New Wave Heavy Metal Pop Band,” may have stalled out in 1982, but there’s still folks, like me, who remember them, and even though they had only 3 studio albums, strangely enough, they also had 3 compilations released, the most recent of which was in October 2015 – THE VIRGIN YEARS.
“And your friends call ’round and they act amazed / You show them ’round and they stand and praise / The life we live that’s just a new street number / On an old address called Love and Loneliness…”