Top 40 Smash Taps: “Back When My Hair Was Short”

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.

Gunhill Road was a band from the Bronx that released their debut album (under the slightly different name Gun Hill Road), First Stop, in 1971. It experienced modest success at best, but did well enough that were given another shot one year later, releasing a self-titled LP that was produced by Kenny Rogers, then still releasing albums with the First Edition while moving toward minor music mogul status with the establishment of his own vanity label, Jolly Rogers. “Back When My Hair Was Short” was one of the songs on the album, the lead singer reminiscing about his time as “a honest to God hippie freak” and spending time in a “heavy scene” that involved seeing as many as “three concerts a week.” He also was pulled into court after “selling dope to some kids.” Once again, the album didn’t really go anywhere, beyond maybe a slight cult following. Then, in 1973, fledgling producers Kenny Kerner and Richie Wise were handed the album by Kama Sutra Records head Neil Bogart with specific instructions on how to rework it. Specifically, Bogart believed that “Back When My Hair Was Short” had the potential to be a hit if it had more of a novelty bounce to it. The band was brought band into the studio to for a new recording session. A lot of the drug references were stripped away to make it safer for radio play, and the track was rereleased as a single. This time it took hold, albeit not necessarily all at once, apparently hitting in different markets at different times. Regardless, it did well enough to allow the band to claim their own Top 40 hit, although just barely.

“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
“Naturally Stoned” by the Avant-Garde
“Come See” by Major Lance
“Your Old Standby” by Mary Wells
“See the Lights” by Simple Minds
“Watch Out For Lucy” by Eric Clapton
“The Alvin Twist” by Alvin and the Chipmunks
“Love Me Tender” by Percy Sledge
“Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies
“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Olympics
“The Bounce” by the Olympics
“Your One and Only Love” by Jackie Wilson
“Tell Her She’s Lovely” by El Chicano
“The Last Time I Made Love” by Joyce Kennedy and Jeffrey Osborne
“Limbo Rock” by The Champs
“Crazy Eyes For You” by Bobby Hamilton
“Who Do You Think You’re Foolin'” by Donna Summer
“Violet Hill” and “Lost+” by Coldplay
“Freight Train” by the Chas. McDevitt Skiffle Group
“Sweet William” by Little Millie Small
“Live My Life” by Boy George
“Lessons Learned” by Tracy Lawrence
“So Close” by Diana Ross
“Six Feet Deep” by the Geto Boys
“You Thrill Me” by Exile
“What Now” by Gene Chandler
“Put It in a Magazine” by Sonny Charles
“Got a Love for You” by Jomanda
“Stone Cold” by Rainbow
“People in Love” by 10cc
“Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)” by the Four Tops
“Thinkin’ Problem” by David Ball
“You Got Yours and I’ll Get Mine” and “Trying to Make a Fool of Me” by the Delfonics
“The Riddle (You and I)” by Five for Fighting
“I Can’t Wait” by Sleepy Brown
“Nature Boy” by Bobby Darin
“Give It to Me Baby” and “Cold Blooded” by Rick James
“Who’s Sorry Now?” by Marie Osmond
“A Love So Fine” by the Chiffons
“Funky Y-2-C” by the Puppies
“Brand New Girlfriend” by Steve Holy
“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” by Bonnie Pointer
“Mr. Loverman” by Shabba Ranks
“I’ve Never Found a Girl” by Eddie Floyd
“Plastic Man” and “Happy People” by the Temptations
“Okay” by Nivea
“Go On” by George Strait

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