I suddenly wanted to leap from my seat and bash through the window so I could run alongside the station wagon.
With “Gonna Fly Now” playing in my head, I was going to conquer my fear of snakes. I was going to eat four McDonald’s cheeseburgers in eight bites. I was going to kiss a girl and she was going to kiss me back. I was going to be the champion kick-soccer player in my third-grade classroom.
I was going to be invincible.
All this happened long before I realized that “Gonna Fly Now” was the backdrop to one of the most iconic music montage training sessions in film history that culminates on “the Rocky steps” in Philadelphia, PA.
All I knew is that “Gonna Fly Now” was the greatest song I had ever heard and I needed to buy the record immediately. I persuaded my parents to drive to the nearby Grand Central store where I plunked down $7.98 for the Original Soundtrack to Rocky and tore open the plastic sleeve as we rode home in the car.
I breathlessly dropped the needle and listened to “Gonna Fly Now” non-stop for the next hour. Eventually I discovered the rest of the album. Sure, there were some dramatic pieces in the same vein as “Gonna Fly Now.” But they weren’t “Gonna Fly Now.” Nothing was that emotional, that powerful, that, well, flight-inspiring.
Listen to Gonna Fly Now (Theme From Rocky) by Bill Conti
America LOVED “Gonna Fly Now” enough to push it to #1 on the Billboard Top 40 in 1977. That turned composer Bill Conti into a one-hit wonder and a household name (at least for a few years). Conti never again reached the Billboard Top 40 even though he gained steady work as a film composer, adding the soundtracks to For Your Eyes Only and The Karate Kid to his growing list of credits. He also wrote the themes to the TV dramas Falcon Crest and Dynasty. Can you say 80s pop cultural guru?
Ferguson’s version is an example of an instrumental one-hit wonder. Even though Bill Conti’s version includes a few sung parts (“Gonna Fly Now/Getting Strong Now”), I think it’s fair to consider “Gonna Fly Now” an instrumental one-hit wonder as well.
It was a good year to like songs inspired by boxing movies. And when Sylvester Stallone won an Academy Award for Rocky, it was clear it was a good year to be a Stallone. As a trivial side note, Sly Stallone’s brother Frank Stallone is also a one-hit wonder for “Far From Over” from Staying Alive, a follow-up to Saturday Night Fever.
Filed under: 1970s · Tags: 1977, academy award, Academy Award Best Original Song, Best Original Song Academy Award, Bill Conti, Billboard number one hit, Gonna Fly Now, instrumental one hit wonder, Maynard Ferguson, movie one hit wonder, movie soundtrack, movie soundtrack one-hit wonder, movie theme, Movies, number one song, Rocky theme song, Sylvester Stallone