Crossing Over from the Music Biz

Did you know that Chuck Barris of The Gong Show wrote "Palisades Park" (1962)? I found out only fairly recently around the time of George Clooney's Confessions of a Dangerous Mind based on Barris' psuedo-autobiography.

Here's a few other celebs that had a previous life in music.

1. Throughout my childhood I knew Shel Silverstein simply as the author of the silly children's books Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974) and A Light in the Attic. Much later, it came to my attention that he'd also written an impressive catalog of songs including "A Boy Named Sue" for Johnny Cash and "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" for Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show (who, if you've been reading Retrospace, you know this group placed real high on The Ugliest Bands of All Time list).

2. This from a previous post: Marcia Strassman (Julie Kotter on "Welcome Back, Kotter") actually had a recording career in the late sixties. Her song "The Groovy World of Jack & Jill" was released in 1967. Her other recordings were typical hippie fare like "The Flower Children", a song written by Jerry Goldstein, the guy who wrote "I Want Candy" (covered later by Bow Wow Wow).

3. Vicki Lawrence is probably best remembered for her appearances on The Carol Burnett Show and the spin-off Mama's Family. Before all that, however, Vicki had a number one hit with "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" - a song Cher was supposed to sing, but Sonny turned it down.

**Update*** correction courtesy Booksteve
I guess I should've known Vicki had actually been with The Carol Burnett Show since 1967, a good while before her song was recorded. Add Vicki's name to the long. long list of actors and actresses who've tried their hand at a music career. I wrote a post about it called Goldie Hawn, Telly Savalas and Other Celebrity Albums a while back. Personal fave: David Soul... Don't give up on us baby.

4. Many may know Ronn Moss from Bold and the Beautiful or the T&A flicks like Hard Ticket to Hawaii. He has recently been an object of jest on the TV show The Soup - the clip of him yelling "RICK!!!" over and over is hysterical (see it here). I found it surprising to learn that he was in the 70s band Player who scored a big hit with "Baby Come Back". I wrote almost an entire post on this believe it or not (man, I need to branch out).


  1. Actually, Vicki was well into the carol Burnett show when she began her hit recording career.

    Shel also wrote the Unicorn, the song about how the Unicorn missed Noahs ark. Ive heard it described as an old Irish folk song because the Irish rovers had a hit with it but nope...little Jewish guy!

  2. Thanks for catching that... one day I plan to actually fact check my posts. I'll start when I start getting paid for doing this.

    I guess the question with Shel is -what DIDN'T the guy do? Playwright, poet, author, cartoonist, songwriter, ...the list goes on and on.

  3. Don't forget Rick Springfield and David Soul.

  4. Hey Gil. The two I knew about were Vicki Lawrence (I always loved that song) and Ronn Moss (my late grandmother was a huge fan of Bold and the Beautiful). It is interesting to hear about the others. It's cool when we find out that celebs had some other talent as well as the one we know them for.

  5. Shel Silverstein also wrote One's On the Way for Loretta Lynn.

  6. Shel Silverstein put out an album, "Freaking at The Freaker'S Ball", with Dr Hook and the Medicine Show as back-up band. Have the record and it's full of very tasty tunes.

  7. Shel Silverstein also wrote two of Bobby Bare's hit songs -- " The Winner !! " and " The Numbers Song !! "