hen Olivia's early singing partner Pat Carroll returned to Australia, it wasn't just to reminisce to friends about her show business fling. She married the guitarist of Go Show band, John Farrar, and the couple hightailed it back to England, hooking up again with their old friend Olivia, whose career was on the rise. One reason for its continued ascendancy was John's steady hand in the producer's seat, and for Olivia's 1975 gold certified hit he even took up the composing pen.
Beating in time with the correct pop pulse was no problem for the Farrar/Newton-John team but placating Nashville was another kettle of musicians. "Appalachia? I've never heard of it. I sing easy listening, middle of the road music.... I sing new songs, old songs and country songs. I didn't think I would be considered a country singer. I was hoping for a hit record, no matter what it was," she would say to early interviewers. It was just this sort of old country, not honky tonk, dues-payin' country identity that angered certain members of the Country Music Association when their fellows voted Olivia the 1974 Female Vocalist of the Year over competitors Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton and Tanya Tucker. So incensed were some members that they left the CMA and formed the Association of Country Entertainers. Said Johnny Paycheck at the time, "We don't want somebody out of another field coming in and taking away what we've worked so hard for."
Hurt by the furor, Olivia persevered, opening shows for Charlie Rich, playing places like the Dixie National Livestock Rodeo and deliberating on the proper wardrobe for county fair appearances (she decided on trousers because of the mud). She even had the nerve to play Nashville, though the concert was at the Municipal Auditorium and not the Grand Ole Opry. Later she would conclude, "I was a scapegoat at the time. In fact, Dolly Parton told me that the press blew the whole thing out of proportion...."
The final hatchet-burying took place when she recorded om America for the first time and chose Nashville for the site. "We actually started recording in Los Angeles but it was an uncomfortable scene," she said in a local press conference. My producer and I were only going to do a single at first, but somewhere between L.A. and Nashville we found three great songs to go with the four we already had. So the session turned into an album." The disc, Don't Stop Believin', turned out a number 33 single in the title track and earned her a gold album, her sixth in a row (her honors also include three platinum LPs).
ABC-TV helped Olivia realize the dream of having her own television special on November 17, 1976. The broadcast guest starred Elliot Gould, Lee Majors, Rona Barrett, Ron Howard, Tom Bosley, Lynda Carter and "lots of singing and dancing." It would be a direction the star would pursue in future endeavors.
- Fred Bronson, The Billboard Book of Number One Hits, Billboard, 1988.
Main Page | Additional Singles Intro | Singles By Month | Seventies Almanac | Search The RockSite/The Web