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» 1970s, Pop » Don’t Give Up On Us – David Soul

Don’t Give Up On Us – David Soul

Some of the greatest (or silliest) pop songs ever written or recorded were by TV stars who crossed over to the Billboard charts. Here’s a short list for you:

  • Rick Springfield from General Hospital (not a one-hit wonder but he gave the world “Jessie’s Girl” and for that we’ll always be grateful)
  • Leif Garrett from Family in 1976 singing “I Was Made for Dancing” (not a one-hit wonder either and now known more for his drug-related arrests than his music or acting)
  • William Shatner from Star Trek singing his beatnik version of “Mr. Tambourine Man”
  • Jamie Foxx from In Living Color singing “Blame It,” a #2 Billboard hit in 2009
  • David Soul from Starsky and Hutch (a true one-hit wonder)

Today we’re paying homage to David Soul, TV’s tough guy turned sensitive balladeer and his 1977 #1 Billboard hit, “Don’t Give Up On Us.”

Click to hear other Billboard number-one hit one-hit wonders

David Soul started his singing career in the early 1960s as a folksinger. Along the way, he opened shows for The Byrds, Ramsey Lewis, Jay and the Americans, and Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels.

Then, in 1967, he appeared on the Merv Griffin show as “The Covered Man.” Since Soul was a good looking guy but wanted his music to sell on its own merits and not his looks, he literally covered his face and sang in what can only be described as either a Mexican wrestler mask, a really bad ski mask or an inept criminal’s attempt to hide his identity. It’s like “The Unknown Comic” but years before that comedian covered his face and told his jokes to adoring audiences on The Gong Show and Sonny and Cher Show.

You’ve got to admire Soul’s commitment to music to perform in a ski mask. It had to be hot. And uncomfortable. But as a gimmick, it worked and Soul parlayed that bit of fame into bit parts on early ’70s TV shows like Here Come the Brides and Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law (man I miss the earnestness of 1970s TV shows. Counselor at Law. High-larious).

But Soul’s big brush with one-hit wonder TV fame happened when he signed on for a cop show called Starsky and Hutch. This cop show (another brainchild of Aaron Spelling who gave the world Charlie’s Angels, Dynasty and Beverly Hills 90210) found Soul playing the intellectual David “Hutch” Hutchinson in Bay City, California where he chased down bad guys and rode shotgun in a red 1975 Ford Gran Torino muscle car.

If you were a boy in the 1970s, you idolized Starsky and Hutch.

Not surprisingly, if you were a girl in the 1970s, you were in love with Starsky and Hutch. Especially when Hutch sang his ultra-sensitive ballad, “Dont Give Up On Us.” That song shot to the top of the charts in 1977 in both the United States and England and turned Soul into a true-blue one-hit wonder.

I haven’t heard it on the radio in years. But it was everywhere in 1977 and VH1 deservedly rated “Don’t Give Up on Us” at #93 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders. Soul had other hits, but none of them ever hit the Billboard Top 40 in America (he remained hugely popular in England however for a few more years).

Click to read “Don’t Give Up On Us” lyrics

Enjoy this one-hit wonder ballad and watch the video that covers David Soul’s long singing and acting career.

Listen to “Don’t Give Up On Us”

Watch a little David Soul history

Written by

I'm an obsessive music collector, cataloger, commenter and trivia nut. Sometimes I'm even a listener. One-hit wonders have always been a guilty pleasure.

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7 Responses to "Don’t Give Up On Us – David Soul"

  1. David Soul says:

    Boy, you do have a streak of knowing cynicism about you, don’t you? I guess you must have seen it all before. But then, you probably didn’t grow up in New York in the 60s did you? Or fight against the Viet Nam war or march in Selma Alabama with Martin Luther King. Well, I did and Mr. “one-hit wonder” is still around after 45 years in this business. Sort of an X-Factor existence I’d say … here today, gone tomorrow. FYI, I started as a folk-singer in 1963 after playing pro baseball, getting married, having a son, getting a divorce. And I spent the first 11 years of my life washing dishes, driving a cleaning truck, working in a demolition team, studying politcal science and … playing music. I even opened for the Byrds, for Ramsey Lewis, Jay and the Americans, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels and playing countless coffee houses on the East and West Coast. And then, I studied acting in New York. When you start with your pompous digest summary of a man or woman’s “one hit wonder” life in this business I really get pissed off. Maybe people like you ought to take a step back and realize that we’re in this for life. Celebrity is NOT a job description. Apparently, you’ve see too much bullshit on television to have any other standard to judge people and what they do. This is not a rehearsal, pa,l and I’m not trying to compete with the world … just want to make people happy… or Is that not “hip” enough for you? David Soul

  2. Michael Waterman says:

    David,

    Thanks for commenting on this posting about you. I am surprised you are so angered by the post. I wouldn’t have written about “Don’t Give Up On Us” or your career if I didn’t have real affection for the song and the era.

    I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s and my friends and I idolized Starsky and Hutch. We loved the show, along with other cop shows like “Streets of San Francisco,” “Baretta,” etc. It was a great era and with the passage of time, I think it’s fair to point out the much of the charm of 1970s TV shows and music was its earnestness, silliness and, by today’s standards, cheesiness. It’s hard to look back at “Love Boat” and see it any other way. But that isn’t a knock on Starsky and Hutch. In fact, I only said positive things about the show.

    I re-read what I had written and can’t find any negative statements about you, the song or your career. Singing a song with a mask on your head did indeed require courage because you are/were indeed a good looking guy. As popular music becomes more image-driven and less about the music and artists these days, that move is that much more admirable. You could have traded on looks in the 1960s but didn’t. That impressed me as I read about your career.

    About “Don’t Give Up On Us” I wrote:

    “I haven’t heard it on the radio in years. But it was everywhere in 1977 and VH1 deservedly rated “Don’t Give Up on Us” at #93 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders. Soul had other hits, but none of them ever hit the Billboard Top 40 in America (he remained hugely popular in England however for a few more years).

    Enjoy this one-hit wonder ballad and watch the video that covers David Soul’s long singing and acting career.”

    I started Toponehitwonders.com to celebrate, not denigrate, one-hit wonders. Some of them are silly (“Pac Man Fever”), some of them controversial (“Eve of Destruction” by Barry McGuire). My criteria for writing about a song is that it had to chart in the Billboard Top 40 and that the artist/band who sang the song did not chart another song in the Top 40. See “Touch of Grey” by the Grateful Dead or “New World Man” by Rush for interesting examples. Both bands have much more famous songs that never reached the Billboard Top 40. That’s what makes one-hit wonder status for some bands/artists so surprising at times.

    The site is absolutely not about a comprehensive career overview for someone like you who has spent 45 years in the business. It’s about single songs that left their temporary or long-lasting mark on popular culture and society.

    I appreciate you commenting on the posting. My writing was an effort to introduce “Don’t Give Up On Us” to a wide audience that has never heard the song and celebrate a 1970s #1 ballad. Nothing more, nothing less. It is definitely not an attack on you, your celebrity or the song.

    I will update the posting with the additional career information you added in your comment. I wish you the best and continued success.
    Michael

  3. james stserd says:

    i love your blog i found it on google

  4. don rehrer says:

    Love your site! I have only one small suggestion to make,and that would be to include the label info in your critique,it would be helpful to those that want to locate these gems. Keep on doing what you do,and I’ll keep coming back to read it!

  5. Michael Waterman says:

    Thanks for the positive feedback, Don. It’s tough to track down label information for every artist but I try to include links to all the songs on Amazon and now iTunes to make it easier to find the songs.

    Also, look for a new version of TopOneHitWonders.com very soon.
    Michael

  6. Mark says:

    Leif Garrett was not a one-hit wonder. “Feel the Need” was very successful too.

  7. Michael Waterman says:

    Mark, you’re correct. Leif wasn’t a one-hit wonder and I never called him one. In fact, I noted that David Soul is a one-hit wonder and Leif Garret isn’t. Leif actually had three Billboard top 40 hits. Interestingly, “Feel the Need” never reached the Billboard Top 40 in the United States, but did hit #38 in the U.K. His three Billboard Top 40 hits are “Surfin’ USA” and “Runaround Sue” and “I Was Made for Dancin’.”
    Michael

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