The Silhouettes were a doo-wop group out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They started in 1956, using the name The Thunderbirds, but soon changed that to The Silhouettes. The original group was four guys, Earl Beal (baritone), Raymond Edwards (bass), Richard Lewis (tenor) and William Horton(lead.) Richard Lewis had written the song before the group got together and when they did, they took the song to everybody they could think of, but no one was buying. Finally Kae Williams decided to give them a chance and so “Get a Job” was recorded on the Junior label.
Unemployment was high in Philly in the Fifties, especially for African-Americans and when Lewis got out of the military, he went back home and started looking for work. Every night, he would come home and his Mom would ask “Did you get a job?” That led to his writing the song.
When radio stations in Philadelphia got the record, they started playing it right away. Although, “Get a Job” was actually the b-side of the 45. The a-side was a song called “I Am Lonely,” but no one cared about that song, they just wanted to hear “Get a Job.”
In January of 1958, it got the attention of Dick Clark, whose show American Bandstand originated from Philadelphia. He had them on the show and the single took off, hitting number one. If you listen to the words, the background guys sing “sha-na-na” several times during the song. (That’s the doo-wop part of the song.) The group who later formed to sing oldies were called Sha-Na-Na and they took their name from the words in “Get a Job.”
The Silhouettes were together until about 1968 when they disbanded. The group got back together in 1980 and played the revival circuit until 1993. Unfortunately, all members of the group are now deceased, dying between 1995 and 2009. In a list of one-hit wonders, the Silhouettes would be right at the top. They had just the one hit, nothing else, and they hit number one with that hit. That is really rare in rock and roll history.
“Get a Job” entered the charts on February 24, 1958 and spent two weeks at number one.
Here from one of their many appearances on American Bandstand, The Silouettes:
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