This week I got a message from a great listener named, Joy who asked if I remembered a country group named Restless Heart from many years ago. She loved them when she was 8, and wondered what happened to them. I do remember them of course, and played all their songs. But their music wasn't the best thing they brought to the table.
They will always be remembered for their gigantic hit, I'll Still Be Loving You. A song virtually everyone on the planet knows. They had a real nice run of good songs for a few years and were consistently on the charts. We will talk about the music in a minute, but to me, the gift they brought to Country Music was universal appeal. The way they dressed, and looked, presented themselves, their slick logo, and their sound.
They brought a lot of people into country, who found them on the crossover charts as ISBLY was a big pop hit too. They came along when there was still a huge stigma that Country was twangy, stiff, and old, Restless Heart helped make us mainstream as much as any act of the era. You have to remember how radically different they were, and radical is not too strong of a word. They were on the charts with Dolly, Conway Twitty, Barbara Mandrell, Glen Campbell, Willie and Waylon an aging George Jones, and many others that had a real appeal to an older generation. Older was our core then, Restless Heart was here to challenge that.
They were formed as a "demo band." Recording versions of songs written that would be pitched to "big stars" to see if they were interested in recording. Then in 1984 they hit the charts with their own first album, and it was on. It was different, unique, and it was destined to be mass appeal. The album was self-titled and was a big success. Let The Heartache Ride was their first hit. They had the feel of the rock group, The Little River Band, or Toto at times and other similar bands - BUT they were OURS! The song below, was a great song, as it was newer sounding, but in its written form was very country!. Great introduction.
Album One - I Want Everyone To Cry - An Underrated Gem Of A Song -
But then came the album, Wheels. It was a monster hit, with 4 number one songs on it. That Rock Won't Roll, I'll Still Be Loving You, Why Does It Have To Be Wrong Or Right, and Wheels. All big songs, all loved, and two of them major pop hits as well. They were on top, and they were having a big influence on what was coming next, it was the zenith of their run!
This Song Is A Classic
There was good success after that, but Wheels was the album that every act hopes for. The classic album that they will always be remembered for. Restless Heart had its core members, but there were many that came and went too. One of the original members, Van Stephenson formed Blackhawk a few years later, and lead singer Larry Stewart was a star in his own right with his fantastic and distinct voice that gave Restless Heart its haunting identity. They disbanded in the mid 1990's.
But we all owe them a debt. Restless Heart really helped make Country "cool" when it needed it. They dared to be the next big thing, as Country Bands were rare in those days. Alabama was the only one really having success, and Restless Heart came in and had a great run. They had a few great albums, a bunch of big hits, and left behind a legacy that was important, that helped pave the way for those who were up next by smoothing out the road ahead.
Clint Black, Garth, Alan Jackson, Joe Diffie, Tracy Lawrence, Randy Travis, Dwight Yoakum all kicked down the door that Restless Heart had unlocked and opened with a younger audience waiting on the other side. Well done.
Restless Heart. Very important in their time, thank you for bringing so many new fans to us.
Next week, we will take a look at Blackhawk!