Smorgasbord Music Column – One Hit Wonders – Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum

I am sure that this song will be familiar to most of you and for me it certainly in one of the most played songs in the early 1970s. Until I saw it on the list from Wikipedia about the one hit wonders.. I had not realised that it was Norman Greenbaum’s only top charting hit. Thanks to worldslover234

Buy the song:

Singer/songwriter Norman Greenbaum was born November 20, 1942, in Malden, Massachusetts. He was raised in a traditional Jewish household and went to Hebrew school. His initial interest in music was sparked by Southern blues music and the folk music that was hugely popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s. He performed with various bands in high school, and attended Boston University for two years, performing at local coffeehouses during that time, but eventually dropped out and moved to Los Angeles in 1965.

Norman formed the quirky psychedelic jug band Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band, which scored a minor mid-chart success with the offbeat novelty song “The Eggplant That Ate Chicago” in 1966. The group subsequently broke up and Greenbaum formed a few other short-lived acts before pursuing a solo career in 1968. Norman released his debut album “Spirit in the Sky” in 1969. The title track, with its hypnotic buzzing bass, captivating heavy guitar riff, crisp hand claps, soulful gospel chorus and funky spiritual lyrics, became an enormous hit single, peaking at #3 on the pop charts, and sold two million copies. Alas, follow-up singles “Canned Ham” and “California Earthquake” were both flops. Following the release of his 1972 album “Petaluma,” Greenbaum took a hiatus from the music scene and focused instead on his rural California dairy farm.

One of the most infectiously catchy and groovy of religious-themed one-hit wonder songs from the early 1970s, “Spirit in the Sky” has been featured on the soundtracks to such movies as Miami Blues (1990), Household Saints (1993), Wayne’s World 2 (1993), Apollo 13 (1995), Michael (1996), Contact (1997), A Simple Plan (1998), Remember the Titans (2000), Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and The Longest Yard (2005). The song has also been used in TV commercials and has popped up on episodes of various TV shows. Norman Greenbaum returned to the music business in the mid-’80s as both a music manager and a concert promoter. He lives in Petaluma, California.
Thanks to IMDb Mini Biography By: woodyanders (qv’s & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Other sources:

Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you enjoyed a little nostalgia.  Sally.


22 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Music Column – One Hit Wonders – Spirit in the Sky by Norman Greenbaum

  1. One hit wonders—so many choices. I was looking at a guitar site the other day (Zager guitars) and learned that the owner Denny Zager was the co-writer of the one-hit wonder written by Zager and Evans (In the Year 2525) which was #1 for six consecutive weeks in 1969.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up.. John Wick 3 -Spirits in the Sky, Polar Bears and Apple Daiquiris | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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