When Wilbert Harrison left the Navy in 1950, he played calypso guitar and his first recordings for Rockin’ Records had a decidedly country feel. His switch to the Savoy label in 1954 did not bring any hits, but that situation changed in 1959 when his version of Leiber and Stoller’s ‘Kansas City’ was a big hit in both the R&B and pop charts, selling over a million copies. That record put Wilbert on a lot of stages around the country on R&B tours, but legal wrangles between the Fire label that released the single and Savoy Records, who claimed to hold Wilbert’s contract, killed any sales momentum. When the follow-up record, Wilbert’s own song ‘Let’s Stick Together’ was released in 1962, it went nowhere. Wilbert continued to tour and record, but in the fast-changing 60s, it seemed like his day had gone. When the Sue label re-released a new version of ‘Let’s Work Together’ in 1969, in was a surprise hit in the Billboard Hot 100. That record is credited to ‘Wilbert Harrison One-Man Band’ as he played guitar, harp and drums as well as singing! Canned Heat’s lightly re-worked version the following year was a worldwide smash reaching Number 1 in 31 countries, according to the band’s manager. The song enjoyed a second wave of worldwide sales when Bryan Ferry covered the song in 1976.
Very few two-hit-wonders have been so successful!