Joe Dowell

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Joe Dowell (January 23, 1940 – February 4, 2016) was an American pop singer.


He was born in Bloomington, Indiana, but moved to Bloomington, Illinois, as a child. He first performed at a ninth-grade talent show and later attended the University of Illinois. At his first recording session (backed by organist Ray Stevens), he sang the tune "Wooden Heart", which had been a hit for Elvis Presley in Europe but which was never released as a single stateside. "Wooden Heart" became the first single released on Smash Records to shoot to #1 on the Hot 100 in 1961. It sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc.[1] In the wake of his success, Dowell wanted to become a songwriter in his own right, but, due to contractual obligations, he was required to sing music owned by Smash's parent company, Mercury Records.[2] He had two further hits, "The Bridge of Love" (US #50) and "Little Red Rented Rowboat" (US #23),[3] but, after struggles with his management, he was dropped from the label.

Dowell went on to record one single for Monument Records, a folk album in the 1960s, and a number of singles and a gospel album for his own Journey label in the 1970s and 1980s. He also recorded a bicentennial EP for the Boy Scouts of America and radio jingles.[4]

In 2004 Bear Family Records released a CD on Joe Dowell's music, including unreleased recordings. His publicist and friend Johnny Vallis confirmed to The Associated Press that Joe Dowell died on February 4, 2016 in Bloomington, Illinois, after suffering a heart attack in the prior weekend. He was 76.[5][6]



Year Title US
Hot 100
Easy Listening
1961 "Wooden Heart" / "Little Bo Peep" 1 1 Smash 1708
1961 "The Bridge Of Love" / "Just Love Me" 50 10 Smash 1717
1962 "Little Red Rented Rowboat" / "The One I Left For You" 23 -- Smash 1759
1962 "Poor Little Cupid" / "No Secrets" -- -- Smash 1786


  1. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 134. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  2. ^ Joe Dowell at
  3. ^ Billboard Singles,
  4. ^ "Joe Dowell: An insanely complete post-Smash/Mercury discography". 2014-01-26. Retrieved 2014-03-29. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Joe Dowell, had No. 1 hit with 'Wooden Heart," dies at 76". Archived from the original on 2016-02-09. Retrieved 2015-02-04. 

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