Here’s a one-hit wonder, a song I enjoyed plenty that spring I was 17. The 45 for “Love You Like I Never Loved Before” is in my collection, though I’m pretty certain I didn’t get it until the late 80s. It’s also on a Time-Life CD compilation of 1981 hits I picked up after I was asked to put together some disks of high school-era hits for my 20th high school reunion in 2002 (the classmates organizing it knew who to turn to for that).
But I got to wondering this morning about the guy who made the record, which is sitting at its peak of #24. The only thing I could recall about John O’Banion from his seven-week run on the show was that he was a native of the Hoosier State (Kokomo, specifically); Joel Whitburn doesn’t say more than that, and Pete Battistini’s book about 80s shows indicates that Casey never told any extended stories about O’Banion. Surely there was something out there on the interwebs about him? Why yes–here are a few nuggets I’ve picked up today:
–O’Banion was already 34 when he had his hit. He’d been out in LA throughout the 70s; his first break was catching on as vocalist for a band put together by Doc Severinsen.
–This ultimately led to a few appearances on the shows hosted by Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, and Merv Griffin.
–For a while in the 80s, O’Banion was big in Japan. In 1982, he took the Grand Prix at the Tokyo Music Festival, for “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love.” A couple of years later, the song was a #2 country hit for Crystal Gayle. It’s incredibly drippy and full of self-pity; that said, had I heard Gayle’s version when it was released in late winter of 1984, the lyrics quite possibly would have resonated with me.
–He also made a few B-movie appearances in the mid-to-late 80s.
–At some point O’Banion was involved in an accident in New Orleans that resulted in serious head trauma. I haven’t been able to pin down a date for it, but complications from the incident led to a premature death several years later, on Valentine’s Day in 2007, just two days before his 60th birthday.
It’s largely gone down the memory hole now, but “Love You Like I Never Loved Before” was one of the perkier, cheerier songs on this show. No official vid to be had, alas.