These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.
By the time “Come See” was release in 1965, Major Lance had already notched five prior Top 40 songs, the biggest of which was probably “Um, Um, Um, Um, Um, Um,” which had climbed all the way to #5 (and topped the R&B charts) the previous year. He was considered one of the major figures of Chicago soul and was one of the main money-makers for Okeh Records through the nineteen-sixties. Lance’s career was boosted considerably by getting the chance to work with the great Curtis Mayfield as a songwriter and producer before striking out in his own. In fact, it was after Mayfield turned in his attention to his own career in 1965 that things started to falter for Lance. “Come See” peaked at #40 and was the artist’s last Top 40 hit.
In keeping with the sadly expected trajectory of music performers discarded by the listening public, it was fairly dire from there for Lance. After struggling to conjure up another hit, he wound up disembarking for England in the early seventies. Northern Soul from the United States was a general that the Brits were going gaga over at the time, and Lance sustained himself with vaunted live performances to adoring fans. That didn’t last, though, and he was soon back in the States, trying just about anything to generate a successful comeback with a variety of different labels. This included recording a disco version of his biggest hit for no less mortifying an employer than Playboy Records. That track never really took off, presumably because label bosses were preoccupied with trying to turn pictorial favorite Barbi Benton into a country music star.
Things could still get worse for Lance. He was busted for cocaine possession in the late seventies and was incarcerated for four years. After his release, he continued hunting for appreciative audience to perform before, until a heart attack in 1987 effectively derailed his career for good. He died seven years later, at the age of fifty-five.
—“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
—“I’m in Love” by Evelyn King
—“Buy Me a Rose” by Kenny Rogers
—“Who’s Your Baby” by The Archies
—“Me and Bobby McGee” by Jerry Lee Lewis
—“Angel in Blue” by J. Geils Band
—“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman
—“I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Rhythm of Love” by Yes
—“Naturally Stoned” by the Avant-Garde