(Above: Picture sleeve from “Why Not Me.”)
If I asked you to name as many Top 20 hits as you could think of from the summer of 1980, I’d wager what’s in my wallet that the name Fred Knoblock would have escaped you.
I’ve been digging into the early 80s charts lately and finding some real gems that I vaguely recall radio wearing grooves into the vinyl but haven’t heard in over 35 years. As soon as I dropped the needle on this one, I was immediately taken back to my parents’ giant FM console in the living room. My parents were in their mid-30s in 1980, but their musical tastes were firmly entrenched in Barbra-and-Neil-type adult contemporary radio offerings. “Why Not Me” hit #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, and I’m sure that WFYR, the station of choice on my parents’ radio at that time, was playing it a lot. But I’ll be damned if I’ve heard it since the summer of 1980.
J. Fred Knoblock is a singer-songwriter from Mississippi that didn’t exactly hit it big. He performed in a few clumsily-named country trios through the 1980s: Schuyler, Knoblock & Overstreet and Schuyler, Knoblock & Bickhardt sound more like law firms than musical acts. (I’d love to see one of them go up against Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds in court.) But in late June of 1980 Knoblock found solo success with a song about attending an ex’s wedding and feeling, well, a little left out. I can’t recall if there was an edit that left out the verse about getting drunk, since that plays more country than AC, but the version that I have leaves it intact.
We can’t even call Knoblock a one-hit wonder, since he had two. His second release, “Killin’ Time,” hit #28 in early 1981 and was a Top 10 country hit. On that record, he shares the billing with actress Susan Anton, who I also bet you didn’t recall having a hit record. True one-hit wonders – one release makes the Top 40 and nothing else even makes the Hot 100 – are rare. Two-hit wonders are even more so, since by the second record the act would appear to have some staying power. But for Fred Knoblock, it was indeed two-and-out.
Fred Knoblock was inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in 2012. Ironically, his last single to chart in 1982 was “I Had It All.” For a brief while, he did.
See if you remember this one. You can hear “Why Not Me” by clicking here.