One-Hit Wonder … Or Not? A Chat with Peter Beckett of Player (1977’s No. 1 Hit “Baby Come Back”)



Rock Cellar Magazine
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In our newest One-Hit Wonder … Or Not? entry, vocalist/songwriter Peter Beckett of the band Player discusses “Baby Come Back,” which hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 after its release in 1977 and became a smash hit — but wasn’t the only notable single released by the band. 

Player: Peter Beckett, John Friesen, Ronn Moss, J.C. Crowley

What determines if a song is a “one-hit wonder”? This is a subject that’s become somewhat difficult to define, as there doesn’t seem to be one clear answer. Many people define it as an artist or band best remembered for one “signature” song that achieves mainstream popularity, especially one that stands the test of time, or a track that landed at precisely the right time and made an undeniable impact that is felt decades later. Even if the artist had other hits, that one single still seems to be the most widely known by the general public.

From the artist’s standpoint, there can certainly be a stigma associated with the phrase “one-hit wonder,” especially when many have had successful careers highlighting other charting singles, albums, tours, have produced or written notable songs for other artists, and have cultivated a devoted fan base around the world that helps them remain in the public eye. But the truth is, thousands of artists, both old and new, would give their left arm to have that one big hit.

Whatever your definition of “one-hit wonder,” there’s a nuance to the term that often goes overlooked and underappreciated, and it’s with that in mind that we present this new column.

Rock Cellar: Do you consider your band to be a “one-hit wonder”? Why or why not?

Peter Beckett: Definitely not. Player had another Top 10 hit with “This Time I’m In it For Love,” and a Top 40 hit with “Prisoner of Your Love.”I also co-wrote “Twist of Fate” for Olivia Newton-John, which No. 5.

Rock Cellar: Were you able to recognize the impact your biggest hit was having at the time of its success, and did you imagine it would span the test of time like it has?

Peter Beckett: Obviously, having a No. 1 hit changed everything. We were performing in huge arenas all across the country in front of thousands. We opened for Boz Scaggs, Heart, Kenny Loggins and Eric Clapton. We appeared on TV shows like Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, Midnight Special, and all the talk shows of the time like Merv Griffin and Diana Shore.

But I don’t think anyone could’ve imagined it would stand the test of time as it has, and be as recognizable now as it was 45 years ago. Of course, the “Yacht Rock” phenomenon has certainly helped.

Rock Cellar: What was your greatest moment performing this song?

Peter Beckett: Actually, the greatest moment for me was before the song was even released. The band was doing a “showcase,” where we performed live on stage for a bunch of record executives in L.A. We did a couple songs and then I walked up to the mic and said, a bit cocky, “We are now going to do our first No. 1 hit for you.” I could feel the energy in the room change as I sang it.

Rock Cellar: Did you write the song with the intention that it would be a hit?

Peter Beckett: Of course, doesn’t every songwriter?

Rock Cellar: What was the initial reaction to the song? Did people take to it immediately, or did it take a while before catching on? 

Peter Beckett: It was immediate. It shot to the top in a few weeks and stayed there for several more.

Rock Cellar: What do you think was the reason for the song’s success — catchy hook? Subject matter? The beat?

Peter Beckett: All of the above.

Rock Cellar: Have any of your songs experienced more success outside the United States? And if so, which one(s), and why do you think that might have happened?

Peter Beckett: “Baby Come Back” hit No. 1 in Canada and made the Top 40 in many other countries.

Rock Cellar: Apart from your loyal fan base that is familiar with all of your music, what would you say is another song of yours that people may know?

Peter Beckett: I wrote or co-wrote many songs for movies, including “The Moment of Truth” — the theme song for The Karate Kid — and I was nominated for a Grammy for the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack.

A song I wrote called “Party” appears in Terminator 3. I also wrote songs for Heart, Little River Band, Grace Slick, The Commodores, Poco, Survivor, Vanessa Hudgens, Janet Jackson & Jermaine Jackson.

There is a song called “After All This Time” that I wrote with Steve Dorf. It’s on the Think Out Loud album I did with Steve Kipner, and Kenny Rogers covered it. There is a music video of it featuring me and Steve.

I also covered a song called “How Can The Girl Refuse” on my solo album, and it was turned into a music video featuring scenes from Major League with Charlie Sheen.

Rock Cellar: What’s another song of yours that you would want people to know, either because it’s a personal favorite of yours or because it didn’t quite catch on as a single in the way you would have expected it to?

Peter Beckett: Besides “Baby Come Back,” most of my favorite songs are on my solo record Beckett. “My Religion” is probably my favorite off that album, and my wife’s too.

Rock Cellar: Are you familiar with any notable covers of your song? If so, what did that feel like to see/hear another artist pay tribute in that fashion?

Peter Beckett: There are many covers of “Baby Come Back.” Lisa Stansfield did a version. I re-recorded part of it for Vanessa Hudgens’ song “Come Back to Me,” and Yung Gravy sampled almost the entire thing in his rap song “Cheryl.”

Some of the covers are really good and some are dreadful (you know who you are.) But it’s an example of its continued relevance. I really like some of the versions done by the younger bands. They weren’t even alive when it came out, but they honored its memory while still putting their own spin on it.

Rock Cellar: What are you up to these days with your music career? Are you touring, recording new music, producing, anything like that?

Peter Beckett: I am still touring. I just did my third 70’s Rock and Romance Cruise and I tour every year with other “Yacht Rock” artists like Ambrosia & Orleans. My wife and I started Yacht Rock Wines, and will be branching out soon with other Yacht Rock themed products. I will be putting out a new CD this year and hopefully finish my book soon after.

Click here to visit Peter Beckett’s official website

Click here to visit the website for Yacht Rock Wines — Baby Come Back Bubbly

Comments

  • Eloise says:

    I play the original Player video of Baby Come Back frequently on YouTube. It’s a favorite of mine. Their talent is awesome. Their harmonizing is perfect because their voices blend so well. Peter Beckett’s lead singing parts could not be done better. And they were all young guys back then who despite their youth were highly accomplished musicians. How did they get so good so young? Let’s not forget the drummer—he’s another awesome talent. And the guy working the synthesizer in the background is terrific. Everything about Baby Come Back is terrific. I never get tired of hearing it. I’m grateful it’s available on YouTube anytime I choose to hear it. Maybe Player should re-release it for the current generation’s listening pleasure. It might go to number 1 again.

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