Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Worth Another Listen • Oliver

Oliver Oliver

William Swofford was born in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, and went to school at University North Carolina - Chapel Hill. In his first foray into the music world, he was a member of the group The Virginians, and later, was part of The Good Earth. But soon he was noticed because of his striking good looks and his clear and sweet voice and became a solo artist. He used his middle name, Oliver, to start the new music career.His voice combined the best of folk and pop of the day, with an earnest and heartfelt emotion always present. In 1967, he scored his first hit with Good Morning Starshine, written by James Rado & Gerome Ragni for the musical Hair. The song went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and went on to sell over a million copies.

Later in 1967, Oliver sang Jean, the theme from the movie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. It was written by the American poet and composer Rod McKuen, and made it to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. The song was a beautiful fit for his voice. It was also his second million-selling single.

In 1969, Oliver has a minor hit with Sunday Mornin', originally recorded by Spanky & Our Gang the year before. The song made it to #35 on the Billboard Hot 100, but stalled there.

And in 1970, his I Can Remember Billboard made it to the Top 25 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, but did not make it to the Hot 100. The song was a remake of an R&B song by James & Bobby Purify, who had some minor success with it in 1968. But Oliver had his own beautiful take on the song.

That was really his last run on the charts. Soon, he was looking to find new creative ways for his music, including a less lush sound, more of an acoustic Folk vibe. But it didn't really catch on in the 70s, and soon Oliver left the music business and had a successful career selling real estate. He also had success selling for the drug companies. His life, however, was cut short in 2000, when he last a battle with cancer. He was 54 years old.

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