Top 40 Smash Taps: “Naturally Stoned”

These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.

Some biographies of Chuck Woolery note that his nineteen-sixties band the Avant-Garde “had one-hit wonder success in 1968 with the top 40 pop hit ‘Naturally Stoned.'” This is absolutely true, fully verifiable. The duo Woolery was part of with some character named Elkin “Bubba” Fowler peaked at #40 with their soft, almost lackadaisical psychedelic song. It was a pretty oddball year for music with, for example, the sweetly celebratory Rascals rave-up “People Got to Be Free,” Jeannie C. Riley’s cornpone revenge saga “Harper Valley PTA” and The Beatles’ epic, anthemic “Hey Jude” topping the chart in successive weeks. It was also a year after the so-called “summer of love,” so any song that inspired thoughts of flowers intertwined with hippie hair undoubtedly had automatic entry onto many station’s playlists.

Of course, Woolery would later become far better known for his work as a game show host. He was recruited by producer Merv Griffin to become the original host of Wheel of Fortune. This was purportedly because Griffin was impressed with Woolery’s charisma after seeing him perform as a singer on The Tonight Show, though I think it’s more likely that it was Woolery’s oversize cranium that caught the entertainment titan’s eye. Griffin was convinced that one of the easiest routes to becoming a big star was having a head that was disproportionately large. Woolery eventually losing the gig when he demanded a significant pay raise that Griffin had no interest in forking over, not when he knew he could pluck up any old weatherman to do the job. Woolery went on to reasonable success as the host of Scrabble and the unctuous and creepy Love Connection.

Though Woolery occasionally dabbled in music between game show jobs, he’s settled into far different pursuits in his old age. As best I can tell, he spends his time making obnoxious, amateurish videos that present logically fallacious arguments which deliberately, smugly miss the point about concerns relating to widening income inequality and American systems (including the tax code) rigged so ridiculously towards the wealthy that they fly in the face of the egalitarian concepts which serves as the very foundation for democracy itself. You can also buy fishing lures from him.

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
“I’m in Love” by Evelyn King
“Buy Me a Rose” by Kenny Rogers
“Who’s Your Baby” by The Archies
“Me and Bobby McGee” by Jerry Lee Lewis
“Angel in Blue” by J. Geils Band
“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman
“I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Rhythm of Love” by Yes

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