“I Don’t Think I Will“
Written by Doug Johnson
Radio & Records
#1 (1 week)
August 30, 1996
A young singer and future pastor earns his sole No. 1 hit.
The Road to No. 1
James Bonamy followed the typical pattern to a nineties country deal, starting off playing locally in his native Florida and eventually working at a radio show in Alabama and then singing at Opryland. A Star Search stint wasn’t fruitful, but he eventually got on the radar of Music Row, signing to Epic Records in 1995. His first single, “Dog On a Toolbox,” was a minor hit, followed by “She’s Got a Mind of Her Own,” which went top thirty. His third single went all the way to No. 1.
The No. 1
James Bonamy is the first artist featured in this series that could genuinely be called a one-hit wonder.
That’s not a reflection on his talent, but on the assembly line process on Music Row that had effectively supplanted meaningful A&R for so many new artists.
“I Don’t Think I Will” wasn’t a breakout hit for its singer. It was a carefully constructed ballad indistinguishable from the sea of such carefully constructed ballads on the radio at the time. At a time when female artists were starting to dominate the genre and you could tell which one of them was singing within four bars, James Bonamy’s record could’ve had John Michael Montgomery’s name on the label and nobody would’ve noticed the difference.
Treating him like a disposable commodity, he was dropped from the label after two albums and a few unsuccessful follow up singles, none of which gave him the chance to distinguish himself from the waves of interchangeable male acts who were clogging up the charts during this part of the decade.
The Road From No. 1
What I Live to Do, his debut album, produced an additional top thirty single with “All I Do is Love Her.” His second album, Roots and Wings, featured the top forty hit “The Swing.” Bonamy exited Epic shortly thereafter, leaving the music industry completely to work in communications and as a pastor in Texas.
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