The musical stylings of John Travolta


Since February 18 is the 70th birthday of John Travolta, I thought I’d link to some of his songs.

His first hits were the result of his breakthrough performance on the ABC-TV sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter. Gabe Kaplan played a a high-school teacher in charge of a  remedial education class called the “Sweathogs. Travolta played Vinnie Barbarino, the heartthrob of the group.

He had four singles on Midland International Records. The biggest hit was Let Her In, which went to #10 in 1976; I have no recollection of the song. Nor do I recall Whenever I’m Away From You (#34 in 1976), yet I have a vague recollection of All Strung Out On YouAll Strung Out On You (#38 pop in 1977).

He didn’t sing on Saturday Night Fever (1977), but his walking to Stayin’ Alive by the BeeGees opens the film. The movie is a lot better than people who wrote it off as a “disco thing” believed. About 15 months ago, Kelly posted that intro. He wrote: “Now we know that Tony’s world is just a few miles from Manhattan but might as well be worlds away, and that the outward appearance that Tony [Manero] obviously cultivates very specifically and very carefully is something of an act, a veneer he has put on a more tender inner life.” It’s an interesting read. John was nominated for an Academy Award for the role. 


Travolta had been in the Broadway production of Grease in the mid-1970s, playing a character named Doody. In the movie musical, as Danny Zuko, he not only sang, but had big hits in 1978, dueting with Olivia Newton-John. You’re The One That I Want went to #1 and Summer Nights to #5. (The latter song was used in a 2023 ad for T-Mobile Home Internet, featuring Travolta, Donald Faison and Zach Braff.)

The three hits from Grease, including Greased Lightning (#47 in 1978) were included in the 1996 Grease Megamix

After the success of the movie Urban Cowboy, Travolta had a some hits (Look Who’s Talking) and misses. His “comeback” was playing hitman Vincent Vega in 1994’s Pulp Fiction, for which I need to play Miserlou by Dick Dale. Travolta was nominated for another Academy Award. 

Finally, the Hairspray Soundtrack includes Welcome To The 60’s (Nikki Blonsky and John Travolta) and (You’re) Timeless To Me (John Travolta and Christopher Walken).  

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