Nope, Not A 1-Hit Wonder: The Rembrandts
It’s a song that at least a few of us have heard, a theme song to a TV show that at least a few of us have watched. It was kinda big, yet the group that recorded it had no other hits.
Well, not quite.
Yes, “I’ll Be There For You” was ubiquitous in the mid to late 90s. From 1995 until around the turn of the decade (possibly even longer) you couldn’t turn on your radio without hearing it.
The artists who recorded it were the duo of Phil Solem and Danny Wilde, known as The Rembrandts.
Solem and Wilde had been knocking around the business for many years before forming The Rembrandts in 1989. Wilde was a member of 70s band The Quick and had released several minor albums on his own. He met up with solem when they were members of the short lived power pop group Great Buildings.
In 1989, they teamed up as The Rembrandts and recorded an album that was released through Atco records in September 1990. The single “Just The Way It Is, Baby” was released and became pretty popular on the radio, making it all the way to 13 on the charts.
But the follow-up single “Someone” stalled at 78 on the charts.
In 1992, they released a follow-up album called “Untitled” (borrowing loosely a trick from Led Zeppelin). This album contained the minor hit “Johnny Have You Seen Her”.
It made it to 54 and I recall hearing it a couple times on the radio.
Also on the Untitled album was “Rollin Down The Hill” which was featured in Dumb And Dumber.
But the next major song by The Rembrandts would not be featured in a movie. But as the theme for a TV show.
In 1995, one could not turn on a radio without hearing those familiar jangling chords or that catchy chorus.
Now it’s a good thing that titles aren’t copyrighted because there’d been an earlier song called “I’ll Be There For You” by those 80s titans Bon Jovi.
But the Rembrandts totally unrelated song became a 90s staple.
According to Wikipedia:
The original theme, which is under one minute long, was later re-recorded as a three-minute pop song. After Nashville program director Charlie Quinn, along with radio announcer and music director Tom Peace looped the original short version into a full-length track and broadcast it on radio station WYHY, it became so popular that they had to re-record it. “Our record label said we had to finish the song and record it. There was no way to get out of it,”
The song was getting radio play before it got released as a single so many people had already bought the full album or the Friends soundtrack before the single was released. Hence the reason why it only made it to 17 on the charts.
However, it would also be the last Rembrandts song to make it to the charts. They’ve soldiered on and released a couple more albums as well as a greatest hits which includes the songs noted above.
So in addition to their immortal TV theme song, The Rembrandts also had another fairly large hit and a couple minor ones and they’ve continued to put out decent jangle pop over the years. But the fact that they had one song that tapped into the zeitgeist at that particular moment in time meant that following it up with something equally successful was going to be close to impossible. That and the fact that the musical climate of that era wasn’t as accommodating to the Rembrandts style. It was at a point when many people wanted edgier stuff and there were other groups that were doing the same style but getting more recognition (The Gin Blossoms for instance). Hence, the reason for their erroneous reputation as one-hit wonders.
But they’re still around, still making music when the rain starts to fall like they’ve been there before.