Song: “The Hustle” by Van McCoy and the Soul City Orchestra
Reached #1: July 26, 1975 (his first, 1 week)
There have been all manner of one-hit wonders… but none as unexpected as Van McCoy.
Van McCoy was a songwriter and composer, writing music for the Shirelles, Gladys Knight & the Pips, Jackie Wilson, and a number of Columbia Records acts.
He did a solo album in 1972 which went nowhere fast, then formed the Soul City Orchestra.
When he was putting together the Disco Baby LP for the Orchestra, they needed one last song to fill the album. “The Hustle” was selected – written about a dance that McCoy’s writing partner Charles Kipps saw in a New York nightclub – with no idea that it’d become a single, much less a hit.
However, it caught on, and McCoy found himself with an unexpected success he was really unable to match on his own – but as a producer, he did well for David Ruffin and Melba Moore, among others.
One of his last releases was from the infamous Mae West “comeback” (and final) movie, Sextette. McCoy even had a cameo in the movie, which arrived in 1978.
Van McCoy left in 1979, dying of a heart attack at just 39.
Tomorrow, the ‘80s hitmaker who opened and closed “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
Other songs that reached #1 on July 26:
1986 – “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel (his first, 1 week)
2014 – “Rude” by Magic! (6 weeks)