Reba McEntire’s Debut Single That Flopped in 1976

On January 22, 1976, Reba McEntire released her debut single “I Don’t Want to Be a One-Night Stand,” but the song didn’t help ignite her career in country music. Written by veteran songwriter Layng Martine Jr., who wrote for Elvis Presley and also penned The Pointer Sisters’ 1981 hit “Should I Do It” and Trisha Yearwood‘s “I Wanna Go Too Far” from 1995, “I Don’t Want to Be a One-Night Stand” was released on McEntire’s eponymous debut in 1977 but wasn’t much of a hit peaking at No. 88 on the Country chart where it remained for five weeks.

“I didn’t do very well on my very first one,” said McEntire in 2019 of her earlier single. “If I had started my career today and it went like it did in ’76, I would be home washing dishes, singing in the shower.”

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At first, McEntire had high hopes for the single and remembered hearing it on the radio for the first time. “The first time we heard it, my very first single that was out, was called ‘I Don’t Want to Be a One-Night Stand,’ and it came on the radio,” said McEntire. “We were listening to KVOO out of Tulsa, and we had an old radio that you had to kind of touch it to make it come in … [get] the reception better. And it was static real bad. And we all, mama and Susie now were there at the house.”

She continued, “And it came on the radio, and Billy Parker said, ‘Here’s little Reba McEntire from southeastern Oklahoma. She’s got a good song on her hands right here called ‘I Don’t Want to Be a One-Night Stand,’ and we all just kind of went to the floor and just sat there and hugged each other and cried.”

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It didn’t take long before McEntire reached the top 10 when her music picked up momentum in the 1980s with “(You Lift Me) Up to Heaven” (No. 8) from 1980 and “I’m Not That Lonely Yet,” which went to No. 3 in 1982. McEntire eventually earned her first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in 1982 with “Can’t Even Get the Blues” from her fifth album Unlimited.

NASHVILLE – CIRCA 1976: Country singer Reba McEntire poses for a portrait session in Nashville, Tennessee circa 1976. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

“The Greatest Man I Never Knew” 

Along with Richard Leigh, in 1992 Martine Jr. co-wrote another song for McEntire—a hit. “The Greatest Man I Never Knew,” released on McEntire’s 17th album For My Broken Heart, went to No. 3 on the Country chart.

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McEntire’s rough patch in the beginning didn’t dictate her later success. With more than 40 years in the business, the “Queen of Country” has become one of the most successful female recording artists in history. She’s earned 25 No. 1 hits, won three Grammy awards, and has sold more than 56 million albums worldwide.

“I had a long period of time before my first, after my first single to my No. 1 record,” she remembered. “Took a long time, but boy it was worth it.”

Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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