The 10 Best Country Crossover Hits of the '70s and '80s
Believe it or not, there was a time when the phrase “pop country” didn’t invite scorn in the minds of country fans. In fact, country hits crossed over to the pop charts for years without watering themselves down.
Many of the original rock and roll artists had a background in country music, and a strain of sophisticated country nicknamed “countrypolitan” gave artists like Patsy Cline and Eddy Arnold big pop hits. Occasionally country stars crossed over in the late '60s as well.
The biggest era of country-pop crossover happened in the '70s and early '80s. That’s when a country star could have a pop hit without remixing it or having a rapper guest star on it. Those years constituted the golden age of country crossover, and here are the ten best country hits that made a big impact on the pop charts.
10. “I Love a Rainy Night” (Eddie Rabbitt, 1981)
We tend to think of country music as the domain of the South and West, but one of the genre’s biggest stars in the late '70s and early '80s originally hailed from Brooklyn. Eddie Rabbitt learned about country music from his scoutmaster, and he made a career out of it.
Rabbitt had made a name for himself as a songwriter when Elvis Presley recorded his “Kentucky Rain” in 1969, and that break led to his success on the country charts as a performer. He had crossed over to the Hot 100 a handful of times when he came across an old tape he had recorded with lyrical fragments for what would become his biggest hit.
A bouncy, upbeat tune about rain doesn’t exactly sound like the formula for a big hit, but radio took to the song, and “I Love a Rainy Night” wound up topping both the country and pop charts. It’s easy to see why: the tune is catchy, and once you hear it, you can’t get it out of your head. Rabbitt had a few more pop hits, but his country career stretched into the '90s.