ONE HIT TERROR: John Waite loses his cool

A recent interview with John Waite did not go well.

Maybe it was because he didn’t like the suggestion that he’s a one hit wonder. Why is this considered such a bad thing?

Playing Century Casino Saturday night, Waite, of course, is globally known for the massive 1984 hit single Missing You. Catching the 59-year-old British singer on the phone from his home in California as he was packing to come to Edmonton (not the best time), the aim was to explore the phenomenon of massive hit songs becoming so well known that they actually dwarf their creators – and one doesn’t often get a chance to talk to somebody in that position. The plan was to lead into his life, his other music, his other bands, the Babys and Bad English, and there were other hits, just not as big as Missing You, and by using the obvious question try to reveal some hidden personality, colour, character, really go “in depth,” as is the custom here.

It didn’t get that far. The interview went off the rails before it got going. Got some colour, though.

Q: First of all, does the term “one hit wonder” offend?

A: If I was a one hit wonder, it probably would. That would relegate me to a certain time period and that would just be hello and goodbye. But the Babys had some gigantic records, I’ve had a No. 1 with Bad English, No. 1 as a solo. I just had a No. 1 record on the radio last year with Rough and Tumble. You can look at it in relative terms – what’s bigger than what else I’ve done? There’s been quite a few No. 1s, really.

Q: But Missing You was EVERYWHERE. It was such big song all over the world. People who never listen to music would know the song and wouldn’t even know who you are. What do you think? Do you think these types of songs can become more famous their creators?

A: I have no idea how to reply to that.

Q: Well, there was Deep Purple and Smoke on the Water; the guy said the song seemed to take on a life of its own. And Don McLean …

A: Who’s he? Never heard of him …

Q: Ha, ha, well, he had a troubled relationship with American Pie, as if it became a Frankenstein monster or something …

A: I consider myself to be way ahead of that one, but this seems to be something you want to approach as a derogatory thing.

Q: Why is it considered derogatory?

A: It’s like, do you want to do an interview or you really don’t? Because, man, I’ve got better things to do than this shit.

Q: I understand, but …

A: I’m really serious.

Q: You are offended.

A: I’m not offended! If you read me like that, then what the fuck are we talking for?

Q: I’m not …

A: Tell you what. Nice talking to you. See you down the line. Bye, bye … (click)

Should’ve saved the loaded question for last.

(We now have actual real-time numbers to measure this sort of thing, in a strictly modern context. The official music video for Missing You, posted on YouTube March 2009, has racked up 2.25 million views and change. When I See You Smile, Bad English’s No. 1 power ballad in 1989, was posted on Sept. 2010 and is almost 900,000; Shadows and Love, the first single from last year’s Rough and Tumble album, sits at just over 73,000 views. And counting).