When I started paying attention to radio in spring 1966, “Lightnin’ Strikes” by Lou Christie had begun to slip down the Top 40 Chart, but it was still getting tons of airplay. Christie was a former choirboy from Pittsburgh with no formal musical training. His star first lit up when, as a teenager, he recorded “The Gypsy Cried,” “Two Faces Have I” and “Outside the Gates of Heaven.”
However, “Lightnin’ Strikes” would become his monster. He wrote it with Twyla Herbert and the record first gained hitbound steam in Canada, making it to No. 1 in January 1966. In the USA it rose to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February ’66. His followup record, also released in 1966, was “Rhapsody in the Rain” which didn’t get as much airplay as perhaps it deserved due to the sexy and suggestive lyrics aimed at teens. After that, his career cooled as far as having more big hits, although he currently tours as a nostalgia act.
In all of Christie’s hits, there’s that distinctive falsetto voice. I have to no avail searched for a mid-sixties TV performance, or similar video, of Christie singing “Lightnin’ Strikes.” But eight years (May 1974) after it had been No. 1, Christie performed on “The Midnight Special.” At the time, he was still a young man, so it is not like we are watching an old guy sing his original hit from 50 years ago. In the video I put together here, the audio from the original hit single has been synced with the video of the live stage performance.
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